Remember when we told people to dance 6 inches apart instead of standing 6 feet apart? Comedian Baron Vaughn and musician Open Mike Eagle compete in a music parody game about slow prom songs changed to be about things you learned in high school.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
These two comedians are friends. And you may know them as co-hosts of Comedy Central's "The New Negroes" and Funny Or Die's "Call & Response." It is returning champion Baron Vaughn and first-time contestant Open Mike Eagle. Hello to you. Hello.
BARON VAUGHN: So happy to return - a champion at that.
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: (Laughter).
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Nice to be here. I'm going to be a champion, too.
EISENBERG: So Baron and Mike - so you two met now years ago at a comedy rap battle. Is that right?
EISENBERG: Yeah. So tell me about this meeting that ended up with you both collaborating on multiple projects. Why?
VAUGHN: Yeah. Mike?
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Well...
VAUGHN: I'm curious about your perspective. I know mine.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: See - OK, so I infiltrated this comedy rap battle.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Because I'm a rapper by trade, and the rest of the people in the battle were comedians by trade who happened to rap. So I thought, surely, I'll win this easily.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: And then I got in, and I lost real bad.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Because I don't know how to, like, play battle, you know. Like, I was being mean, and nobody wanted that.
COULTON: You were too good.
COULTON: Your weapons were too powerful.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Yeah. You know, I was taking it way too serious. But Baron really killed it that night. He was playing this old man character...
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: ...Who was just riffing and grooving and just making everybody laugh and disarming everybody with charm.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: And afterwards - I don't know - me and Baron started talking and really took a liking to each other. And I think that's kind of where our working relationship started.
EISENBERG: But like I was going to say - because you were like, I actually went in there to take this seriously - you know, you have - you, during this time, have been recording. You have a new album. I think it's very impressive to put out new work during this time. It's hard.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: In that it's slightly not smart, yes.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: I agree. I agree.
COULTON: It's hard to get hard to get attention these days.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: It's a little rough. It's a little rough. This...
COULTON: Because there's a lot of fires burning around.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Yeah, there's some things happening.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Yeah.
EISENBERG: Baron, I'm going to give you a hard time for a second.
EISENBERG: Why - why start another podcast?
VAUGHN: Thank you for saying the question...
EISENBERG: And by that, I mean...
COULTON: Good plug.
EISENBERG: ...Hey, you have a new podcast...
EISENBERG: ...Called "Self Quar With Baron Vaughn." Yeah.
VAUGHN: Yeah. "Self Quar" - a pun on self-care...
VAUGHN: ..Because I do ask myself that same question every single day, Ophira, as I think a lot of people are right now in this pandemy (ph).
VAUGHN: Or Panny-D (ph), as I like to call it. Panny-D and the 'Rona Boys (ph).
VAUGHN: You know it's got to end with a Z. Come on, guys. This is an early '90s two pop - hip-pop. You know, (singing) now that we're inside...
VAUGHN: So I feel like, you know, since so many people are active and being like, what are you doing? What are you doing? I'm trying to ask people, how are you doing? That's, like, part of my way of providing for my community, is just being able to check in with people and make sure that they're taking care of themselves because you have to be - you know, you have to be healthy, you know, to be stealthy.
VAUGHN: You have to be healthy...
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: I always say that every day.
VAUGHN: ...You know, to eat the wealthy.
VAUGHN: You have to be healthy...
EISENBERG: To eat the wealthy - I like that.
EISENBERG: That is sort of - I mean, in a weird way, honestly, that is kind of what we're doing. We're just checking in - just checking in. Play some games. You know, that's self-care right now (laughter).
VAUGHN: (Laughter) Yes, it is.
EISENBERG: So should we try one? Should we try a game, see how we do?
VAUGHN: Let's do it. Yeah.
EISENBERG: OK, you're going to work together in this first game. Jonathan Coulton will sing you the clues in this music parody called Prom Songs.
COULTON: So I'm going to perform slow-dance prom songs with the lyrics changed to be about things you probably learned in high school. All you have to do is tell me the thing that I'm singing about or the song or artist that I'm parodying. If you don't know either of those, just tell us an embarrassing story from high school, and we will accept that as a point.
COULTON: OK, here we go. (Singing) Three-sided shapes that have a right angle. This formula may be of some use. Square A and B and add them together, equals the square of a hypotenuse.
VAUGHN: I want the falsetto scat solo.
VAUGHN: Wasn't that - doo-doo-doo (ph) - I feel like there's a lot of doo-doo-dooing (ph) in that song.
COULTON: Yeah, sure.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: I don't know the name of the song, but I know the mathematical lesson.
COULTON: Lay it on me.
VAUGHN: Oh, yes. Tell us the mathematical lesson.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: It is the Pythagorean Theorem.
COULTON: That is correct.
EISENBERG: So correct.
COULTON: A-squared plus B-squared equals C-squared - classic.
VAUGHN: Can I name the song?
VAUGHN: Isn't it "Truly Madly Deeply"?
COULTON: That is correct - Savage Garden. You got it.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Wow, Savage Garden.
COULTON: See that?
EISENBERG: All points. All possible points rewarded.
COULTON: See what happens when we work together?
VAUGHN: That's the lesson, seriously.
COULTON: That's the real lesson that we learned today.
EISENBERG: That is the lesson that they were trying to teach you with the Pythagorean Theorem.
VAUGHN: Everyone's got an angle.
EISENBERG: That's right. And if you don't, you're obtuse. Hooray.
EISENBERG: No - bad, bad, bad.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Oh, boy.
COULTON: No, that was acute.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yay.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: I'm not going to participate.
COULTON: No, no, no.
COULTON: I don't blame you. OK, here's another one. (Singing) I don't want to stay at rest. That's what I'm gonna do. That's inertia. Also force equals M times A. Every single action has an opposite and equal one. It's mechanics, babe. Seems like stuff moves around this way.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: I only have bad guesses.
VAUGHN: OK, go ahead, Mike.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: OK, so I'm going to give you a bad guess. It's like Newton's law of motion.
COULTON: That's correct.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: That it? OK.
COULTON: Newton's three laws of motion.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: OK. OK, good. I thought I was just...
COULTON: That's not a bad guess at all.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: ...Putting stuff that didn't go together.
EISENBERG: No, that's it.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: That's what I thought was happening.
COULTON: You did it.
VAUGHN: And, of course, Aerosmith.
COULTON: Aerosmith, "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" - that's right. OK. Here's another one.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Oh, yeah.
COULTON: (Singing) My philosophy, life's absurdity - it's all meaningless till we make our own mess. So I'm free. That's true. But I'm angsty too, just like Kierkegaard, Sartre and Camus.
VAUGHN: (Singing) Simone de Beauvoir...
VAUGHN: (Singing) ...Articulated all the things that we're having to see - no exit from this madness.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: OK.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Thank you for naming my two fifth grade obsessions.
EISENBERG: So good.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Boyz II Men...
COULTON: Yeah. That's right - Boyz II Men.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: ...And existentialism.
COULTON: Yeah. That is correct - well done.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: The philosophical concept of existentialism.
COULTON: I feel like I would not have known this. I don't think I'd studied...
COULTON: ...Existentialism in high school.
EISENBERG: Nope. Me neither.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: No, no, no. I said fifth grade. You guys don't understand how lonely a brother was.
COULTON: All right. Here's another one. (Singing) Sometimes the snow's as soft as brie. Sometimes the snow's a blanket sea. It's the word as that is the clue. That is the difference between these two.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: OK - language arts now.
COULTON: Language arts, we're talking.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: So I'm feeling a little activated. I think I got the lesson here.
COULTON: All right.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: So that's the difference between a simile and a metaphor.
COULTON: That is correct.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: But what - the song, I don't remember the name of, although I do know it. Baron, do you remember the name of the song?
VAUGHN: "Save The Best For Last"...
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: There you go.
VAUGHN: ...By Vanessa Williams.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: There you go.
COULTON: Yeah. That is correct.
COULTON: Another fantastic team effort. I love it. I love to see it.
VAUGHN: My goodness.
EISENBERG: This was like a very upgraded "Schoolhouse Rock!"
COULTON: It's true.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: These could be children's cartoons for generations to come.
VAUGHN: I mean...
EISENBERG: That was amazing.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: It was very fun.
EISENBERG: Mike, you knew everything. Baron helped you out...
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: Well, only 'cause you had Baron...
EISENBERG: ...A little bit.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: ...Do everything first, and I was just following his lead as being a smart person.
VAUGHN: I don't know about that, Mike. We lift each other up.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE: That's right.
VAUGHN: Jonathan, let me just tell you this real quick.
VAUGHN: (Singing) Just drop a ball into a cup.
VAUGHN: (Singing) See the water rise like a displaced tide.
COULTON: Yeah. See? That's great. You're hired. You're hired.
COULTON: And you were doing that - you were thinking that up in the background while you were talking.
COULTON: That's the thing.
VAUGHN: A psychiatrist told me it was called OCD, but, like...
EISENBERG: We're going to play another game with Baron Vaughn and Open Mike Eagle after the break. Plus, I'll talk to a friend of the show, "Saturday Night Live" cast member Bowen Yang. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.