Muppet Laughs

Aug 7, 2020

Comedians Sasheer Zamata (SNL) and Nicole Byer (Nailed It!), hosts of the Best Friends podcast, play an audio game where they guess the Muppet based on its laugh.

Heard on Nicole Byer, Sasheer Zamata And 'Star Trek: Lower Decks': Starships And Friendships.

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Hi, everybody. This is Jonathan Coulton from ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm going to pick up the computer phone here and call my friend, Ophira Eisenberg.


Hello. Host Ophira Eisenberg of NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER speaking.


COULTON: Hi, Ophira. How are you? I didn't know you were going with the full, official title now. That's nice.

EISENBERG: Well, it's just to weed out some callers. Some people hang up as soon as they hear that.


EISENBERG: So Jonathan, because I am spending so much time in my apartment, I am going through my drawers. I am going through all my stuff.


EISENBERG: And seeing what can be cleared out...

COULTON: Cleaning up.

EISENBERG: ...What I don't need anymore. And I found something that I don't think I need anymore (laughter).

COULTON: Oh, no.

EISENBERG: I bought a very pretty. Writing book that was all about goal-making for the year.

COULTON: Yeah. No, my wife has about 500 of those.

EISENBERG: I love them.

COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah.

EISENBERG: You see them in the store. And you're like, this is the missing piece.

COULTON: That's why I'm not getting anything done.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) That's right.

COULTON: I don't have one of these books.

EISENBERG: I don't have one of these books. And so I found mine. And I wrote down in January a bunch of goals for the year.

COULTON: (Laughter) Oh, man. Oh, man.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) And then....

COULTON: What - I'm curious what kind of goals did you have in January.

EISENBERG: OK. OK. Here you go. I'm not particularly proud of it. I was going to try the whole 30, which is a very restrictive diet where you basically remove sugar and caffeine and carbs and then...

COULTON: Everything good.

EISENBERG: So let's just say I'm not really withholding anything right now.

COULTON: Yes. No. I'm with you.

EISENBERG: Right. And as a control freak that currently has no control - I mean, did I ever have control, question mark? Again, another thing to shelf.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: At least when I go - am I going to eat a bag of bagels? - and then I go, yes. It's my choice.

COULTON: (Laughter) Good for you, taking charge.

EISENBERG: Thanks. But my other goal was to get an ab, one ab. I've just never had an ab.

COULTON: (Laughter) You got to get them in pairs. If you just get an ab on one side, that's like...

EISENBERG: (Laughter) That's true. That's true.

COULTON: You don't want that.

EISENBERG: You want a pair of abs. OK.

COULTON: You've got to - two is the minimum abs.

EISENBERG: Guess what - this next goal, I did it. I achieved it.

COULTON: What is it?

EISENBERG: Spend more time with my son.


EISENBERG: Worked out - I did it.

COULTON: Congratulations.

EISENBERG: Thank you.


EISENBERG: So yeah. I guess I don't need this book because, honestly, I don't know what my next goal is.

COULTON: Yeah. We're all kind of going sort of moment by moment. I mean...


COULTON: I have a short-term goal, which is that...

EISENBERG: Short-term goals, this is smart.

COULTON: My short-term goal is that over the next 30 seconds to one minute, I intend to play the theme song for NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Achievable.

COULTON: Here we go.

EISENBERG: Let's check something off.


COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from our respective homes in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and goal journalists, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now, here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


COULTON: Thank you, Jonathan. What a show we have for you. We are going to sing some songs about vegetarian meat substitutes with the stars of "Star Trek's" new animated comedy "Lower Decks," Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid. And we're going to quiz comedian John Early about his love of the Brady Bunch. But up first, here from "Saturday Night Live" and "Nailed It," the host of the podcast "Best Friends," Sasheer Zamata and Nicole Byer. So let's play some games.


EISENBERG: We have Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata. Hello.


NICOLE BYER: Hello, hello.

EISENBERG: So you know, I was looking a little bit at your social media presences and noticed that you've taken up roller skating.

ZAMATA: Hell, yeah.


BYER: Hell, yeah, dude. We're in a skate gang.


COULTON: Inline skating or traditional roller skates?

BYER: Roller skates.

EISENBERG: You guys were in a class? Or what was that?

ZAMATA: Nicole did hire an instructor...


BYER: Yeah. My friend, Danielle, came to teach us...

COULTON: (Laughter).

BYER: ...And very quickly was like, they're children. They will not listen.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ZAMATA: Yeah. It was really, like, we couldn't be corralled. We were just, like, skating in different directions like, now I'll do this over here. And she's like, OK. I'll help you with this...


ZAMATA: ...One thing you're working on. And I'll help you with this other thing you're working on.

EISENBERG: Right. Everybody wanted to do a trick immediately kind of thing.

ZAMATA: Yes. Yeah.

EISENBERG: Like, no one wanted to learn the basics.

ZAMATA: But...

COULTON: Well, so are you doing those tricks? Are you doing - spinning around and stuff like that, because I do think that looks pretty cool when people do that.


ZAMATA: I can do shoot the duck, which is where you..


ZAMATA: ...Crouch down. And one leg is extended. And you, like...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

ZAMATA: ...Hold your leg up with your arm.

EISENBERG: That's advanced.

BYER: I can go forward for about three seconds.

ZAMATA: Yes (laughter).

BYER: So you know, we're all at different levels.


COULTON: (Laughter).

BYER: We're - we just - we're, like, all at different levels of, like, standing still.


BYER: We're not, like, a true, blue skate gang. But we are having a performance in October.


BYER: And we are having jackets made.


EISENBERG: Of course you are.

COULTON: Well, you can't be a team if you don't have matching jackets.


ZAMATA: Exactly. Yeah.

EISENBERG: I mean, I would've ordered the jackets before the skates, honestly.

COULTON: Yeah. Do you have a team name that is going to be embroidered on the back of these jackets?

BYER: Skate gangs.

ZAMATA: Skate gang.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. That's right.


ZAMATA: Maybe we should add one more word to differentiate from other skate gangs.


EISENBERG: No. I'm pretty sure skate gang is not taken.

BYER: No. Yeah. Like, I don't think...

EISENBERG: So just go with it.

BYER: I don't think there's any, like, actual people running around screaming skate gang as a roller skate. I think this is it.


EISENBERG: Yeah, you know?

BYER: I think we're an anomaly.

ZAMATA: Probably.

COULTON: And you're not trying to state anything complicated.

EISENBERG: That's right.

COULTON: You're just saying skate gang.

ZAMATA: Yeah. It's true.

EISENBERG: So you both met at UCB New York, right? That is correct.

ZAMATA: We did. Yeah, in 1911...

BYER: In 1942. Oh, yes.


BYER: I always get it wrong. It was 1911.

EISENBERG: And then started your own group together with another woman.

BYER: Yes.

ZAMATA: Yeah, Doppelganger with Keisha Zollar.

BYER: With Keisha Zollar.


EISENBERG: And why the name Doppelganger?

ZAMATA: Well, because when we started, there weren't too many Black women at UCB. And people would legit confuse us for each other...

COULTON: (Laughter).

ZAMATA: ...Which seems wild because we don't look alike. We have different comedic sensibilities, personality sensibilities. But yeah. We would - and we wanted to make fun of that and laugh at it and kind of...


ZAMATA: ...I guess reclaim it. So we called ourselves Doppelganger.

EISENBERG: Yeah. And then, Sasheer, you have a movie about to come out. What a great time it is to have a movie about to come out.

EISENBERG: Yeah. I mean, it's coming out ASAP called "Spree."

ZAMATA: Yeah. Yeah, so excited about it.

EISENBERG: That's cool, very cool. And speaking of very cool, Nicole, congratulations on being nominated for an Emmy for your work on "Nailed It!"



BYER: Thank you.

EISENBERG: That's so great. Tell me about how you found out or how that works.

BYER: So I made a post of all the dumbest stuff I did on the show...


BYER: ...Like rolling off the table or whatever. I was like, give me an Emmy. And then...


BYER: That's literally all I wrote. And then the day of nominations, I was just in bed and had woken up to like a bunch of text messages that were like, you were nominated for best host. And I was like, what?


BYER: And then I woke up my roommate John (ph) and the nice man who lives with us. And I had to watch "Lord Of The Rings" for a podcast I was recording later that day. And I was like, would anyone like to watch "The Lord Of The Rings" with an Emmy nominee?


EISENBERG: All right. We have some great games. You want to play some games?


BYER: I'm ready to destroy you.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).


COULTON: There we go.


EISENBERG: There's the friendship. There's the friendship. This is an audio quiz called the Muppet Laughs. We're going to play you a clip of a Sesame Street or Muppet character...

BYER: Oh, I'm going to lose.

EISENBERG: ...Laughing. And you just have to tell us...

BYER: Which one it is.

EISENBERG: ...Who's the character. Yeah.


EISENBERG: Yeah. And so, Sasheer, we're going start with you. Here's your first one. OK?



JERRY NELSON: (As Count von Count, laughter).

ZAMATA: That's Count Dracula.

BYER: That was easy.

EISENBERG: Count Dracula? Do you want to...

ZAMATA: No. wait.

EISENBERG: ...Do a little...

ZAMATA: Count...

COULTON: Yeah. What is his last name?

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ZAMATA: Is it the Count?

EISENBERG: The Count will do. Yeah. The Count will do.


EISENBERG: He's Count von Count, as it turns out.


ZAMATA: I never knew that.

COULTON: Of the von Count family.

BYER: Did not know that.

EISENBERG: But as it turns out, there's lots of counting counts in folklore.

BYER: Oh, really?

EISENBERG: Yeah. Yeah. He's just the well-known one. But supposedly, you can distract a vampire by throwing grains or seeds. And the vampire will stop and count every single grain. They get transfixed on that.


COULTON: I would not...


COULTON: I would not recommend that if you were approached by a...



COULTON: Nicole, who is this diva?


FRANK OZ: (As Miss Piggy, laughter).

BYER: Miss Piggy.

COULTON: (Laughter). Yeah. It was easy. You had that right away.

EISENBERG: Yeah. By the way, there was strangely - this came across the NPR News desks today that there was an interview with Kermit. And he said that Miss Piggy and himself, Kermit, are no longer together.

ZAMATA: I remember hearing that. It's devastating.


BYER: Yeah. It's rude.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ZAMATA: I also remember when they had that reboot show, like, in the last few years. He was dating a younger, hotter pig. And everyone's like...


ZAMATA: ...We hate this.

COULTON: Yeah. Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yup. And then...

BYER: Honestly, what a funny sentence. He was dating a younger, hotter pig.


EISENBERG: All right, Sasheer. These guys are named after two hotels in New York City.


JIM HENSON AND JERRY NELSON: (As Statler and Waldorf, laughter).

ZAMATA: Statler and Waldorf? Is it...



EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's right, Statler and Waldorf.

BYER: Wow. I was like, Hilton and Radisson?


BYER: I had no idea.

EISENBERG: Econo Lodge and Red Roof?

COULTON: Nicole, this character's laugh has sold millions of toys.


KEVIN CLASH: (As Elmo, laughter).

BYER: Elmo.



COULTON: Correct.

BYER: My grandpa's name is Elmo. And he never liked it when I tried to tickle him.


ZAMATA: But how crazy would that be if that was his laugh. He was like, (imitating Elmo).

BYER: It would be amazing.

COULTON: Grandpa Elmo, don't laugh like that.

BYER: Honestly, it would make our relationship better if that's how he laughed.


BYER: I'd be like, so you are whimsical and fun.

EISENBERG: Sasheer, numerous celebrities have told this character to put down the ducky if he wants to play the saxophone.


JIM HENSON: (As Ernie, laughter).

ZAMATA: Is it Ernie?

EISENBERG: Yeah. That's Ernie's little laugh.

ZAMATA: Whoa. I only got it because of the ducky. I don't think I would have known that's how we laughed.

EISENBERG: Right, because he had that (imitating Ernie) - yeah - little laugh.

COULTON: Because he's sneaky.


COULTON: Because he's always doing something mean to somebody else and then laughing about it.


ZAMATA: Like Nicole.

COULTON: Like Nicole (laughter).

ZAMATA: I'm Bert. You're Ernie.


BYER: Yeah. That sounds right.

COULTON: All right, Nicole. This Muppet is the greatest standup comic of his generation.


OZ: (As Fozzie Bear, laughter).

BYER: Is that Kermit?

COULTON: It is not Kermit.

BYER: Gonzo.

COULTON: No, he's a mammal.

BYER: Big Bird.

COULTON: No, Big Bird's a bird.

BYER: Smokey the Bear.


EISENBERG: I love Smokey the Bear's tight five on forest fires.

COULTON: (Laughter).

ZAMATA: Can I steal her point? Is it Fonzie (ph) The Bear?

BYER: Fozzie.

COULTON: Fozzie. Fozzie. That's right.


BYER: Fozzie. Fonzie The Bear - ay.



EISENBERG: That was a great first game.


EISENBERG: Wonderful, wonderful.

BYER: Sasheer did so much better than me.

ZAMATA: In your face.

BYER: That just means you paid more attention to your childhood. And I was busy living my childhood.





EISENBERG: After the break, Jonathan and I are going to eat some junk food. That's right. Nicole and Sasheer will try to guess what we're eating. Is this a game, or is this a very thinly disguised excuse to eat candy? It's both. I'm Ophira Eisenberg. And this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.