Comedian Tawny Newsome and actor Jack Quaid (Star Trek: Lower Decks) try to guess the pest based on the description of a made-up superhero.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Our next two guests are the stars of a new "Star Trek" series. This one's an animated comedy about the starship crew members you don't usually get to see. It's called "Star Trek: Lower Decks," and it's now out on CBS All Access. Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER. Hello.
JACK QUAID: Hi.
TAWNY NEWSOME: Hello.
EISENBERG: Jack, where are you? It looks like there's a curtain behind you or something - a quilt?
QUAID: Yeah. I'm in a closet full of props from old sketch comedy shows. So it wasn't really being used for anything significant.
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Is there, like, a rubber chicken and...
QUAID: There is a - this is supposed to be - I know no one can see this...
NEWSOME: Describe it, baby. You just got to tell us what it is.
QUAID: ...Yeah. This is a coat filled with cats that was from a bit.
EISENBERG: You don't need any more than that. You don't need any more than that.
QUAID: No, you don't.
NEWSOME: There's literally a stuffed cat head coming out of a sleeve.
QUAID: Yes, that's...
NEWSOME: Like, it could not be more literal.
QUAID: ...But, you know, it's a great sound buffer, so we're making it work.
COULTON: Good enough.
EISENBERG: I'm just wondering in that closet if there is a big box of whisks. I feel like every time it's like, give me an object, it's either a spatula or a whisk.
QUAID: Oh, interesting. No.
NEWSOME: You've been in some very tame improv performances.
EISENBERG: Oh, OK.
NEWSOME: Because in my years and years of the Second City giving me a career but also stealing my youth...
NEWSOME: ...The No. 1 suggestion is gynecologist.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. Right.
COULTON: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
NEWSOME: As though it's 1994.
QUAID: Tawny, just because I know you've been doing - obviously you've been doing this for years...
QUAID: ...Like, when you get gynecologist, do you roll with it?
NEWSOME: I say, no, thanks. I've been this year. Another suggestion, please.
QUAID: Good. There we go. That's it.
NEWSOME: But my No. 1 favorite heckle that has ever happened to me, on stage at the Second City in Chicago - I step out onstage. My first line of the entire two-act sketch comedy revue is, hi, my name is. And I say this made-up name, and I'm supposed to launch into a character. And I walked out there and I said, hi, my name is Liz. And this drunk woman in the back just goes (imitating drunk person) liar.
NEWSOME: And I had to stop and be like, I mean, in a way, you're right (laughter). We're all just up here lying. But like, I don't know. Eat your chicken fingers, girl. Sit back. Enjoy.
QUAID: I want that woman to go to a play so bad. Just like...
EISENBERG: (Imitating drunk person) Liar.
QUAID: ...Be watching like - be watching, I don't know, just like a Shakespeare play or something like - it's like, 'tis I, Hamlet. Liar.
NEWSOME: Well, no, you're not wrong.
QUAID: Just has no suspension of disbelief at all.
EISENBERG: So yeah. So you get to be part of this great comedy of "Star Trek." It's about the support crew. But are you a "Star Trek" fan? Did you watch "Star Trek?"
NEWSOME: Well, I did grow up watching kind of the '90s trifecta, you know, "The Next Generation." "Deep Space Nine" is my No. 1 favorite. My mom is a huge Trekkie, so she got really into "Enterprise." And I went back and watched "Enterprise" - and, like, oh, that's a wild one.
NEWSOME: But, you know, I love it. Yeah. When I was a kid, it was one of the most inclusive things on television, you know, from a diversity standpoint, like women captains, just like - yeah. It included me before I even knew that that was important. So I think that that's what they're continuing now. And I'm so - I'm just so glad there's so much different types of Trek.
EISENBERG: Yeah. All right. Are you guys ready to play a game, a couple games?
EISENBERG: Many comic book characters get their personas from creatures like Batman, Spider-Man, so on. So Jonathan and I will describe the origin story for a new superhero or supervillain that we've invented with the scientifically accurate powers of a not-so-glamorous critter. And your job is to name the pest we're talking about.
EISENBERG: All right.
COULTON: All right, Jack, here's one for you. Elizabeth was a mild-mannered phlebotomist who tripped over a free sidewalk mattress that came with a horrible price. Now she prowls the night as Betty Bloodsucker (ph). When the sun goes down, she'll leave itchy bites all over your skin.
QUAID: Oh, she is the bedbug lady.
COULTON: Bedbug, that's what we were looking for. That's correct.
QUAID: Yeah. Bedbug lady is not a good superhero name.
COULTON: Bedbug lady is not - it's not the strongest I've ever heard. No.
EISENBERG: I do like bedbug lady because, let me tell you, bedbug man is sort of like, eh, but bedbug lady - you're like, I can see that bedbug with a cocktail. I don't know. There's something about it that's like...
NEWSOME: Yeah, she sounds sophisticated.
QUAID: It's definitely...
EISENBERG: That's more sophisticated.
QUAID: ...It could be like a Neil Diamond song. Like (singing) bedbug lady.
EISENBERG: Tawny, after a nuclear experiment gone wrong, Sam Gregor (ph) emerged from the lab with the power of invulnerability. He regenerates lost limbs, holds his breath up to 40 minutes, survives decapitation and attacks restaurant kitchens. Meet palmetto.
NEWSOME: This is a cockroach.
EISENBERG: Yeah, it's a cockroach.
EISENBERG: Well done.
QUAID: I just learned that cockroaches can regrow limbs. Is that true?
NEWSOME: Yeah, man.
QUAID: Oh, no.
NEWSOME: Yeah. Sorry to tell you. I'm so sorry.
COULTON: Your plan of slowly killing them by taking their legs is not going to work. You've got to come up with a new...
QUAID: Oh, no. I've taken so many legs.
NEWSOME: Yeah. You've got to get rid of them.
COULTON: What a waste of time.
NEWSOME: This is why I don't kill anything in my house. I put everything outside because I don't know if I'm actually going to kill it, or if it's going to kind of, like, come back to life or something.
NEWSOME: I put a glass over...
EISENBERG: What if you're just giving it a evolutionary challenge?
NEWSOME: Right. It's going to come back stronger...
COULTON: Deal with this.
NEWSOME: ...And learn how to regrow. Those things could learn from me trying to kill them.
NEWSOME: No, I put a glass over everything. I slide a piece of mail underneath it. And I take it outside, and I say, I'm so sorry; you've gone on a long trip...
NEWSOME: ...And you don't have a bus ticket back maybe, but this is where you live now.
EISENBERG: Yeah. That's right.
COULTON: You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah.
NEWSOME: Exactly. Exactly.
QUAID: I like that.
COULTON: All right, Jack, this one is for you.
By day, he's a bespectacled researcher working for the Metropolis Times. By night, he's freeloading in your kitchen, flying by your sink and drowning in your cup of red wine. Some call this bright-red-eyed hero the ex-boyfriend, but you know his real identity.
QUAID: I'm just going to say Superfly.
QUAID: Or super fruit fly? What does he...
COULTON: Fruit fly is exactly...
QUAID: Fruit fly.
COULTON: ...What we were looking for. That's right.
QUAID: The kitchen, yeah.
EISENBERG: I always go, ah, fruit flies, who cares? Because, supposedly, they only live 24 hours, right? That's what you're always told.
EISENBERG: Turns out they can live 40 days.
QUAID: Whoa. So you're telling me somewhere there's, like, an old fruit fly.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) There's a real - calling the fruit fly...
QUAID: There's, like, a fruit fly that's seen some stuff.
COULTON: He's seen some stuff. That's right.
QUAID: He's over it. He's just like...
NEWSOME: He's dragging on a little cigarette.
QUAID: He's like, I just want to settle down into a nice pear.
EISENBERG: All right, Tawny, this is for you.
NEWSOME: Woo (ph).
EISENBERG: After gaining superpowers in a juggling mishap, Monique Munroe (ph) fights crime with her dozens of legs. Some of these limbs allow her to move with incredible speed, while others generate their own venom. Look out for One Woman Army. Same bug time, same bug channel.
NEWSOME: Ooh. OK, I was going to...
NEWSOME: ...Go with, like, centipede. But...
EISENBERG: Go with that.
NEWSOME: Oh, whew.
EISENBERG: Go with that.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Yeah.
NEWSOME: I'm going with centipede. I didn't know they had venom. Now I'm scared of centipedes.
EISENBERG: Oh, my goodness. So...
COULTON: (Laughter) I used to love centipedes, and now I can't.
NEWSOME: I hate this so much.
QUAID: Bugs are awful.
NEWSOME: What's next? What's next? You're like, you know that beautiful butterfly? Each one of them carries a knife. Like what...
NEWSOME: You just terrified me about bugs that I previously was just neutral about.
EISENBERG: Hey, great game. I think you both won.
NEWSOME: All right.
EISENBERG: Great game.
NEWSOME: Oh, cool. Whew.
COULTON: We're all winners.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Coming up, Tawny and Jack will help us balance out all the junk food we just ate a few minutes ago by playing a game about vegetarian meat substitutes. Plus, I've just got to set an alarm because I don't want to be late for my chat with comedian John Early.
EISENBERG: I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.