New Surname, Who Dis?

Jun 1, 2018
Originally published on June 1, 2018 1:32 pm

This final round pits contestants against each other in a game of celebrity-name palindromes — words that are spelled the same backwards and forwards. Wow!

Heard on Ethan Slater & Kyle Jarrow: Squarely SpongeBob.

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It's time to crown our big winner. Let's bring back our finalists - Rosanne, a self-described second-rate trumpet player, but Ed Koch patted her on her back, and Nathan, who made friends with the monsters in his dreams.


EISENBERG: Puzzle guru Greg Pliska, take it away.

GREG PLISKA: Rosanne and Nathan, your final round is called, Madam, I'm Adam. Every answer is a well-known person or fictional character who's first or last name is a palindrome. And a palindrome, as you know, is a word that reads the same forwards and backwards. For example, if I said, at age 11, she won an Oscar for her first movie role in "The Piano," you'd answer Anna Paquin because her first name Anna is a palindrome - spells the same forwards and backwards. Now our big winner will receive an ASK ME ANOTHER Rubik's Cube signed by the "SpongeBob" people - Ethan and Kyle and maybe Jonathan.

JONATHAN COULTON: I would be happy to sign it.

PLISKA: OK, good. Thank you.


PLISKA: Now, we rolled a 20-sided die back stage. And Rosanne is going to go first. According to the Bible, she is Adam's wife.


PLISKA: That is correct.


PLISKA: Nathan, Miley Cyrus's alter ego on a long-running Disney Channel program.

NATHAN LESLIE: "Hannah Montana."

PLISKA: That is correct.


PLISKA: Rosanne, billionaire Hungarian hedge fund manager and investor who often gives money to liberal causes.


PLISKA: That is correct.


PLISKA: Nathan, Lord Byron's daughter often credited as the first computer programmer.

LESLIE: Don't know it.

PLISKA: Don't know - I'm sorry. The answer we were looking for is Ada Lovelace. All right. Rosanne, young actor who starred as Hugo in "Hugo" and Ender in "Ender's Game."

GANGI-GAERTNER: I'm afraid I don't know.

PLISKA: I'm sorry. The answer is Asa Butterfield. All right. Nathan, French-born author known for the multiple volumes of her diaries as well as the posthumous erotic novel "Delta Of Venus."

LESLIE: Gosh, I should really read more.

PLISKA: Erotic novels at least.

LESLIE: At least.

PLISKA: Do you have an answer, Nathan?

LESLIE: I don't know.

PLISKA: OK, the answer we were looking for is Anais Nin. OK. Rosanne, multimedia artist, singer-songwriter and wife of John Lennon.


PLISKA: That is correct.


PLISKA: Nathan, Jamaican singer-songwriter known for "No Woman No Cry" and "One Love" and college dorm room posters.

LESLIE: That'd be Sir Bob Marley.

PLISKA: That is correct.


PLISKA: We're at the halfway point. And Rosanne is in the lead, 3 to 2. All right. Roseanne, he was the founder and first chancellor of the German Empire.

GANGI-GAERTNER: Otto something.

PLISKA: We're going to need more of his name, I'm afraid.



PLISKA: No, I'm sorry what we were looking for was Otto von Bismarck. All right. Nathan, the director of "Selma" and "A Wrinkle In Time."

LESLIE: Um, um.

PLISKA: Three seconds.

LESLIE: It's not coming to me.

PLISKA: Not coming to you - the correct answer is Ava DuVernay. Rosanne, she is a Yugoslavian-born, former number-one tennis player and the youngest French Open champion at the age of 16.

GANGI-GAERTNER: Oh, I'm at a loss.

PLISKA: The answer is Monica Seles. All right. Nathan, he plays Hawkeye in "The Avengers" but not in "Infinity War."

LESLIE: I don't watch the comic book movies.


LESLIE: I don't have it.

PLISKA: No. The correct answer is Jeremy Renner. All right. Rosanne, longtime Vogue editor-in-chief who hosts the Met Gala.


PLISKA: That is correct.


PLISKA: Nathan, if you get this question wrong, Rosanne wins the game. All right. Nathan, he's the narrator of Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations."

LESLIE: Rosanne, I think you're going to want to start practicing your Rubik's cube.


PLISKA: You want to just guess any palindrome?



LESLIE: Is it Bob again?

PLISKA: No, I'm sorry. It is not Bob. The correct answer is Pip from Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations." So Rosanne, you have won our game by a score of 4 to 2.


EISENBERG: Nathan, thank you so much. Such a fun contestant, you were awesome - well done. And congratulations, Rosanne. You are the big winner. And that's our show. ASK ME ANOTHER'S puzzle guru is Greg Pliska.

PLISKA: Hey, my name anagrams to sparkle gig.

EISENBERG: Our house musician is Jonathan Coulton.

PLISKA: Thou jolt a cannon.

EISENBERG: Our puzzles were written by Carol Lee and senior writers Eric Feinstein and Karen Lurie (ph), with additional material by Will Hines. Our acting senior supervising producer is Rachel Neil (ph). ASK ME ANOTHER is produced by Sylvie Douglas (ph), Mike Katzif, Travis Larchuk, Kiara Powell (ph), Denny Shin, Rommel Wood and our intern Georgia Wright, along with Steve Nelson and Anya Grundmann. We were recorded by Damon Whittemore, Noriko Okabe and David Hurtgen. We'd like to think our home in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Bell House...

PLISKA: Hot old blues.

EISENBERG: ...And our production partner WNYC. I'm her ripe begonias.

PLISKA: Ophira Eisenberg.


(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.