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Science & Medicine

Ask Me Another Team Says Goodbye

Contestants who have been on the show
Contestants who have been on the show

After nine years, 260 episodes and more than 1,700 games, this week marks the series finale of NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia, Ask Me Another. In the final episode, host Ophira Eisenberg and house musician Jonathan Coulton play the last few games and answer listener questions.

Here, the current Ask Me Another team reflects on what they'll miss about making the show.

Jonathan and Ophira doing a table read at The Bell House before a taping
Travis Larchuk / NPR
Jonathan and Ophira doing a table read at The Bell House before a taping

Ophira Eisenberg, host: I'm going to miss the live shows because they were so fun. I was able to forget about everything else while we played silly and clever games with silly and clever people. They would riff on a trivia question in a way that exposed the workings of their brain, that was so hilarious and insightful, or they would give an answer that was totally correct, that no one had thought of. Within all of this planning, there were just constant surprises. I'm going to miss my weekly talk with Jonathan Coulton about everything in the world, that made me feel better and heard. And I'm going to miss accidentally learning things about America, the animal kingdom, pop culture, songs, song writers. And I was just getting better at mash-ups. I was just starting to get it. I was about to get an answer right, everybody.

Jonathan Coulton, house musician: By far, the thing that I'm going to miss the most is having a weekly requirement to laugh and talk with Ophira and whatever guests we had. To essentially be forced to have a good time. No matter what else was going on in the world, I knew that I had a regular, recurring, forced good time that always cheered me up and brought a real lift into some pretty dark times. My favorite things that ever happened in the show were moments where it went off the rails in one way or another, and we all had to acknowledge that it wasn't going the way we expected. That's always my favorite, especially in a live show when something would go horribly wrong in a game. It was always my favorite.

Actress Uzo Aduba
Mike Katzif / NPR
Actress Uzo Aduba

James Sparber, producer: What I'll miss the most is that wacky confluence of a good team behind the scenes and some genuinely unpredictable guest moments – whether a guest was just so delightful, or such a handful.

Rommel Wood, producer: It's funny because of course I will miss working on the show, but I think the thing I will miss the most is what could have been if the show had gotten the opportunity to keep going. I'm nostalgic for a future that will never be. The return to our hometown crowd at The Bell House, the return to going on the road, or an end of the day PuzzGrid challenge. It's silly! But I'll miss hearing about what everyone did over the weekend at our Monday morning production meeting. I cannot overstate how much this show has meant to me in the five years I got to work on it but also how honored I am that I got to be a listener and a fan through the entirety of the show's run.

Matthew McConaughey in Austin, TX.
Jessica Mims / NPR
Matthew McConaughey in Austin, TX.

Travis Larchuk, senior producer: I love public radio, I love game shows, I love talk shows, and this was all three of those things combined. NPR gave us so much freedom to mess around. Like, Ophira pretended to be a talking tree. Where else on public radio are you going to hear that? Definitely not on The Splendid Table. It's also been so cool to hear from young people who grew up listening to the show with their families. I love that this could be burned into some kids' brains the same way Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? was for me. But with Jonathan Coulton instead of Rockapella.

Rachel Neel, senior supervising producer: It has incredibly been hard for me to find the motivation to sit down and organize my thoughts surrounding the end of Ask Me Another. This show is special and over the years has become very dear to me. The team delighted in making this show, and I am so proud of the fun we were able to have. People often say that 'you know you're doing it right when you're having fun', and if that's true then I know we did it right a whole lot of the time.

Nancy Saechao, booker: I'm going to miss all the ingredients it takes to make this big tasty stew. It's really unique, to make something that's sweet and spicy, and I will savor all the hands that have gone into making this meal we got to share every week with new and seasoned listeners across the nation. I will miss member stations, venue partners, the marketing brains and graphic design gurus. So many stagehands and my favorite porter at the Bell House. The unpredictable publicists and thoughtful guests. Even guests who forgot what show they had arrived to do. The drivers that either drove me wild or calmed me down. An unforgettable general manager and talent buyer that I will be indebted to forever. All the security guards, they are the funniest people. These bartenders, house managers and technical directors are the neckbones that give our stew the base to do what we do. There's a lot I'm forgetting, but right now the roux of people I gather with will be missed the most. They say a dish is only as good as their ingredients, and the team on Ask Me Another are the finest. No expiration date.

***

What's next for Ophira and Jonathan? Ophira continues to do standup and storytelling, and recently recorded a new comedy album. And after a year off, Jonathan says his annual JoCo Cruise is back on for Spring 2022.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

2019 taping of <em data-stringify-type="italic">Ask Me Another </em>at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York
Mike Katzif / NPR
2019 taping of <em data-stringify-type="italic">Ask Me Another </em>at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York