Sleep No More

Sep 11, 2020
Originally published on September 15, 2020 9:12 am

In this music parody game, Jonathan Coulton sings lyrics about adult sleeping aids, set to classic children's lullabies. Jo Firestone and Manolo Moreno (Dr. Gameshow) have to guess what he's singing about.

Heard on: Hilary Swank, Andy Richter & Yvette Nicole Brown: 'Away' We Go.

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So, Manolo, you are super-busy right now.

MANOLO MORENO: Yeah, I guess so. Yeah.

EISENBERG: Are you continuing to do animated shorts for yourself?

MORENO: I thought you were going to ask me if I'm still taking showers.

EISENBERG: How's the showering going?

MORENO: It comes and goes. Yeah. My reminders if something sticks to me.

JO FIRESTONE: You know, I found a Starburst wrapper on me the last time I showered.


JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: How long do you think it had been there?

FIRESTONE: Well, I eat Starburst almost every day, so there's no telling. But it really didn't feel good. Yeah.

EISENBERG: Have you ever - I've found, like, chips - chip pieces in my hair. Have you ever found chip pieces?

MORENO: Like potato chips?

EISENBERG: Yeah, potato chips.

COULTON: You falling asleep with a chip bag?

EISENBERG: Yeah, pretty much, like eating in front of the television.

COULTON: When you get to the end, sometimes you have to tip it up and get the small pieces.

FIRESTONE: Yeah. Yeah, drink style. Yeah.

MORENO: That's why, when you get to the bottom of the bag, you use a straw.

FIRESTONE: Oh, wow. Advocating straws in this day and age - wow.

MORENO: Paper straw.


COULTON: Paper straw.

MORENO: Metal straw.

COULTON: Paper straw.

MORENO: Yeah, yeah, metal straw.

FIRESTONE: Please. I got a clog in my metal straw. It's a Dorito.


EISENBERG: All right. Would you guys be up for another game?


EISENBERG: All right. So in this game, Jonathan Coulton will be singing you the clues.

FIRESTONE: I love this.

EISENBERG: And it's about something many of us are not getting much of, or any of these days, sleep.

COULTON: Yes. We rewrote classic children's lullabies to be about sleep aids for adults. I usually do this on guitar, but I'm going to play it on ukulele this time.

Manolo, this is for you. (Singing) I can't get the sleep I need. It would really help if I smoked some weed. But weed makes me too paranoid. Maybe I should try a different cannabinoid - very proud of that one. (Singing) Without any THC, will it have any effect on me? I hope this oil calms my brain, or there goes a hundred bucks down the drain.

MORENO: (Laughter) I do know the answer. But before I tell you, I thought that when you said, Manolo, this is for you, I thought you were dedicating a song to me. And I said, aww...

COULTON: Oh, that's sweet.

MORENO: ...'Cause I thought we just had a moment, but then nope.

COULTON: This is for you. This is especially for you.

MORENO: It's just my turn to answer.

COULTON: (Laughter).


COULTON: It is CBD. That's right. Do you happen to know the name of the lullaby?

MORENO: Yeah, "Hush Little Baby."

COULTON: "Hush Little Baby," yeah.


COULTON: All right. Here's one for you, Jo. Jo, this is dedicated to you.

FIRESTONE: Thank you. Aww.

COULTON: Here we go. (Singing) Fifteen-pound duvet lays right atop my sleeping body, snoring non-stop. Last week was filled with anxiety, but now I'm out cold thanks to gravity.

FIRESTONE: That - I think you're talking about weighted blankets.

COULTON: I sure am talking about a weighted blanket. That's right. Do you happen to know the name of the lullaby?

FIRESTONE: I think it's "Rock-A-Bye Baby."

COULTON: That's exactly what it is. Does anybody have a weighted blanket?

EISENBERG: No. I tried one once, and it was too heavy for my body weight. And it...

COULTON: (Laughter) You have to get one that's, like, rated for your body weight?

EISENBERG: Yeah. Oh, yeah. There's a calculation.


COULTON: Oh, jeez.


MORENO: I made a DIY weighted blanket where I just put a barbell on my chest.


COULTON: All right, Monolo, here's one for you. (Singing) It plays me whale calls when there are fireworks. It plays me fan sounds through my wife's snore. It always soothes me with gentle birdies. When my baby cries, I ignore.

MORENO: That is a white noise machine.

COULTON: White noise machine - that is correct.

EISENBERG: I do find it weird when people like the insect or frog settings on those (laughter).

COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah. Some of the nature-related ones are a little aggressive.

MORENO: I like to keep mine on the mosquito setting.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: All right, Jo, here is one for you.


COULTON: (Singing) I wake up exhausted - no idea why. I downloaded something that will measure my shut-eye. It logs all my patterns. The data goes real deep. But now I'm worried maybe Facebook's listening to me sleep.

FIRESTONE: Honestly, it made me so - that filled me with this bittersweet feeling. It was...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

FIRESTONE: Doesn't Puff - does something happen to Puff?

COULTON: Puff is forgotten by his...


COULTON: ...Friend Jackie Paper because Jackie Paper grows up.



MORENO: Oh, the original "Toy Story."

FIRESTONE: You know what? I know it's an app. And I'm going to go ahead and take a stab that it's Twitter.

COULTON: It's not...


COULTON: It's a great sleep aide. Nothing calms me down more than reading Twitter at the end of the day.

FIRESTONE: You know, I tried the Calm app, and they have celebrities that, like, will tell you a story. This was...

COULTON: This is the meditation...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

COULTON: ...Calming app? Yeah.

FIRESTONE: Yeah. And then it's like Harry Styles being like (imitating British accent) I saw you the other day, and you were walking down the street, and you were picking the grass, and - is that Harry Styles'...


COULTON: It sounds - that sounds a lot like Harry Styles.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: What if you were - if you really had a passion about being a meditation guru, but you had a really - you were just born with a really grating voice that nobody could stand?

MORENO: Oh, man.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: You're feeling very comfortable.

FIRESTONE: It's "Singin' in the Rain" for the modern age.


COULTON: Yeah, that's right.


EISENBERG: Another great game. And after two games, you both won.



EISENBERG: You both won.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Triumph - triumph.



MORENO: Do we win, like, a Rubik's Cube again or...



MORENO: Well, you know, just in case, my Venmo is @...


EISENBERG: Yeah. Request me. Request me.


EISENBERG: Thank you so much, Manolo Moreno. Thank you so much, Jo Firestone - a pleasure.

FIRESTONE: Thank you so much for having us. We loved it, didn't we?

MORENO: Yeah. I loved it.

COULTON: Yeah, sure.


EISENBERG: After the break, Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank joins us from her home in Colorado, where she can see snow out the window. Her new show "Away" is about a mission to Mars, which is also a very cold place. Meanwhile, I'm here in New York City with my feet in a bucket of ice water. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

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