Fact Bag

Oct 30, 2020

French beaches. Zoom's namesake. These are the mysteries contained within that stupefying sack, that confounding container, that tantalizing tote known as Fact Bag. Can Ophira Eisenberg, Jonathan Coulton, Mike Albo and Amanda Duarte guess the answers before time runs out?

Heard on: Chelsea Handler & Sharon Salzberg: Guided Meditation.

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Thanks, Jonathan. We're on the line with comedians and good friends Mike Albo and Amanda Duarte. Mike, Amanda, are you ready for your next challenge?

MIKE ALBO: Yes.

AMANDA DUARTE: Yeah.

EISENBERG: I'm excited to have you both do this because this is what we call an all-play.

DUARTE: All-play.

EISENBERG: Which is that you, Jonathan, and I are all going to play a game together called Fact Bag.

ALBO: Fun.

DUARTE: (Laughter) That was my nickname in junior high.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: OK. So here's what's going to happen. I'm going to read a trivia question. It could be about anything. None of us have the answer to this, but these are things that most people just don't know. But we are going to all talk it out and see if we can figure out what the answer is, you know, or our best guess. And then we'll reveal it and, you know, see how we feel.

DUARTE: Oh, so it's like teamwork.

EISENBERG: Yeah, it's teamwork.

ALBO: Oh, I like this communal feeling. I love it.

DUARTE: Oh, I like this. Yeah, this is fun.

EISENBERG: OK, so here's the first one. More than 35 years ago, a shipping container full of a very specific item was lost in a storm. Every so often, people will find some of its cargo washed up on a French beach. The objects are plastic and based on a character from a syndicated newspaper comic strip. What are they?

ALBO: I think I know.

EISENBERG: Are you serious?

DUARTE: I know this. I think it's...

ALBO: Yes.

DUARTE: What do you think, Mike?

ALBO: I think they're Garfields.

EISENBERG: Garfield's?

DUARTE: I think they're Garfield's, too. That sounds right to me.

COULTON: Well, so 35 years ago is...

EISENBERG: '85?

DUARTE: Yeah, '85.

COULTON: '85 - yeah. So that was pretty much the height of Garfield's powers.

DUARTE: Oh, yeah. That was peak Garfield.

EISENBERG: Why did you - but why - how do you know this? You just heard it?

ALBO: Because I think I read an obscure article about this. I just remember that detail, but I might be wrong.

EISENBERG: Yeah. OK. OK. But you both want to go with Garfield - strong statements.

DUARTE: It was my first impulse. And I did read the article, too.

COULTON: Wait. You both read an article about this shipping container and the plastic figurine...

DUARTE: Yes. Yes. We...

COULTON: ...On the French beach?

ALBO: I think so.

DUARTE: We are privy to a very curated news stream.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ALBO: Either I'm very clairvoyant, or I read this article.

COULTON: Or you could just be a big Garfield fan.

DUARTE: Who isn't? Who doesn't hate Mondays and love lasagna?

EISENBERG: Nobody.

COULTON: Right?

DUARTE: Right.

EISENBERG: All right. Just to be a counter, I'm going to say Ziggy.

ALBO: Nice.

COULTON: Ziggy.

EISENBERG: I like the idea of some Ziggys washing up on a French beach.

ALBO: I used to have Ziggy wallpaper.

COULTON: You had Ziggy wallpaper?

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ALBO: Yeah.

COULTON: Was that your choice?

ALBO: Yes, when I was in second grade.

EISENBERG: Was he saying anything?

ALBO: I just think he was probably the gayest representation I could find in second grade.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jonathan, do you want to put in a vote for...

COULTON: I do love the idea of French people sort of - every day, they go out there and they find another Garfield on their beach.

ALBO: Right. It's, like, so insulting.

DUARTE: This is why they hate us, guys.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Producer Travis, what is the answer? Garfield.

DUARTE: Yay.

COULTON: It is Garfield.

EISENBERG: Specifically Garfield phones.

DUARTE: Oh, that...

COULTON: Garfield phones.

DUARTE: I remember that now.

EISENBERG: More than 200 of them have been found washed up so far.

DUARTE: I wonder if that increases their value on eBay or decreases it?

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

DUARTE: Because, you know, there would probably be a fair amount of saltwater damage. But also they've got a story. They've got an origin story.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) People love a story.

DUARTE: They're famous.

EISENBERG: People love a story. Let's try another one.

DUARTE: Yeah.

ALBO: Oh, yeah. Bring it on.

EISENBERG: All right. So we're all pretty much living on Zoom these days. So the question is, where did the name Zoom come from?

DUARTE: I believe it was the 1985 song "Who's Zoomin' Who?" by Aretha Franklin.

(LAUGHTER)

ALBO: I would believe it's from the 1970s Boston-based show "Zoom."

EISENBERG: Ooh.

COULTON: Mike, you and I are on the same wavelength because I was thinking exactly the same thing.

(LAUGHTER)

DUARTE: For those of us who were not born yet, what was this show? What was it, like a variety show?

COULTON: "Zoom" - it was on public television. It was made by WGBH, which was a local station in Boston. And it was kids running around in striped shirts.

EISENBERG: I never saw it myself.

ALBO: Playing - you never saw it?

EISENBERG: But it sounds fun.

DUARTE: No. It sounds fun.

ALBO: All I know is that my friend who grew up in Jamaica Plains went to school with all the "Zoom" kids and said that they were all snotty.

(GASPING)

ALBO: Yes.

DUARTE: Oh, I hate them.

EISENBERG: Wow.

COULTON: Well, they thought they were so great. They were on public television.

ALBO: Totally.

COULTON: Do you remember the jingle for their address at the end of the show?

ALBO: Box 300 - Boston, Mass., - (singing) 02134.

COULTON: (Singing) 2134 - send it to Zoom. That's right.

DUARTE: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Travis, what is the option? OK. Oh, it's based on a children's picture book by Thatcher Hurd called "Zoom City."

ALBO: Well...

COULTON: Wow.

EISENBERG: What? In a Medium post...

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: ...An early Zoom investor named Jim Scheinman explains that he read this book to his kids over and over again. It's about dogs driving cars zooming around a city. Jim says this planted the idea in his head to use the name Zoom for a company. And he was waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

ALBO: OK, wait - so the children's book came first.

EISENBERG: Yes.

ALBO: But then the man created a what from it.

DUARTE: He just knew that he wanted to name some company Zoom. And he was waiting for...

ALBO: I see. I see.

DUARTE: ...One to come along.

ALBO: Oh.

DUARTE: I guess this is what rich people do with their time (laughter).

COULTON: Right. Let me just check my list of future company names.

ALBO: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: I'm just waiting for the right company to name after my favorite children's book "Everyone Poops." What is it going to be?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Amazing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: I can't imagine playing Fact Bag with two better people. Thank you so much, Amanda. Thanks, Mike.

ALBO: Thank you. It was fun.

DUARTE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: And Mike Albo and Amanda Duarte are writers and performers in New York City.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.