How To Succeed At Trivia

Jul 24, 2014
Originally published on January 15, 2015 10:56 am

Is listening to our show the secret to succeeding at trivia games? And how! In this quiz, the answers are common phrases and titles that begin with "how," such as How I Met Your Mother.

Heard in Episode 322: A Primate Example

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Live from the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York this is ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's and WNYC's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia. I'm your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


EISENBERG: Now if you were to ask me what is going to rise up and take over the planet, I think the answer is simple - smart phones. When's the last time you remember looking down and just seeing the ground?


EISENBERG: Years, years - the machines are taking over, people. But you know who I'd like to see rise up and take over the planet? Apes - which brings me to our VIP this week, who just happens to play Casesar in the "Planet Of The Apes" movies. And you may also know him as Gollum from "Lord Of The Rings. Our very important puzzler is Andy Serkis.


EISENBERG: And let's say hello to a man who puts the prime in primate - our one-man house-band, Jonathan Coulton.



EISENBERG: Our first game is called How To Succeed At Trivia. So let's welcome our contestants, Allison Jones and Miriam Manber.


EISENBERG: Miriam, how do you think you will succeed in this trivia game?

MIRIAM MANBER: A Wikipedia k-hole.

EISENBERG: You're going to go into a Wikipedia k-hole?

MANBER: It's just - I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia.


EISENBERG: That is a - that's a fascinating hobby.


MANBER: Thank you.

EISENBERG: Yeah. So are you aware of, like, what's accurate and inaccurate? Like, do you care about that or do you just like reading it?

MANBER: Absolutely not.

EISENBERG: You don't care.


EISENBERG: You just gobble it up?


EISENBERG: All right, very good. Allison, how do you think you succeed at a trivia?

ALLISON JONES: Oh, well, I brought my friend, Lindsay, with me. So we just created, like, an elaborate series of hand signals for her to, like, feed me the answers.


JONES: I mean, I studied really hard. I got this.

EISENBERG: You studied hard for a game that you have no idea what it's about.

JONES: Yeah. I just studied all of the things. It's fine.

EISENBERG: I like it. You guys are both just, like, I know everything. And that's how I'll succeed. That is - really, the confidence is fantastic. In this game, we're going to give you the clues to titles of books, films and songs that start with the word how. So with an example, here's our puzzle guru, Art Chung.

ART CHUNG: So if we said Ted Mosby finally noticed her during the weekend of Barney and Robin's wedding, that's "How I Met Your Mother."

COULTON: Makes sense, right?

JONES: I was really hoping that would be, like, an actual question. So now you, like, totally took away the answer that I was, like, ready for.

CHUNG: All right, you know what? You both get one point just for that.


CHUNG: To earn the point, ring in and give us the title. The winner of this round will move on to the Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show.

EISENBERG: He and his dog, Max, snuck into town in the middle of the night, taking their presents, their trees and cleaning out the ice box as quick as a flash. He even took their last can of who hash.



JONES: "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."

EISENBERG: Yes, exactly.


CHUNG: Although you'd be tempted to slay that large, scary lizard - don't do it. Instead, make him a tail, and teach him how to fly again so that he can someday save your Viking village.


CHUNG: Allison.

JONES: "How To Train Your Dragon."

CHUNG: That's right.



EISENBERG: And there's a sequel, right? It's called, like, Dragon Get Me A Drink or something like that?

JONES: Yeah.


EISENBERG: You should smile, be a good listener and take a genuine interest in others, according to Dale Carnegie.



MANBER: How to get ahead - make friends and influence people - something.


CHUNG: There's one keyword - sorry I can't give it to you.


MANBER: Oh, I'm so sad.



CHUNG: I know it's harsh. It's an important word.

COULTON: Puzzle guru is cruel.

EISENBERG: It's an important word, huh?

CHUNG: It's an important word.

EISENBERG: All right. Are you going to let Allison steal?

CHUNG: Oh, yes, Allison, do you - can you...

JONES: Is it "How To Win Friends And Influence People?"

CHUNG: Yep, it's how to win friends. I'm sorry - oh, rough crowd.

COULTON: Oh, boy. Nobody likes that call.

CHUNG: I'm not making friends here.

COULTON: Nor are you winning them.


EISENBERG: Do we have a book for you.

COULTON: The Prescott and Rawlings families migrated to California, and after fighting the Civil War, defeating outlaws and building railroads, the Pacific Coast was finally settled.


COULTON: Allison.

JONES: "How The West Was Won."

COULTON: Indeed. You got.


EISENBERG: For a magazine article, hook up with a desperate advertising executive, then throw tantrums, complain about his cooking, interrupt his guys' night, and in just a week and a half, he'll be gone, or so you think.



JONES: "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days."



COULTON: According to this hit song by The Fray, step one, you say we need to talk, he walks, you say sit down, it's just a talk.


COULTON: Miriam.

MANBER: "How To Save A Life."

COULTON: That's right.


EISENBERG: Wikipedia paid off right there.


MANBER: No, no. "Grey's Anatomy."


EISENBERG: "Grey's Anatomy." It's always one thing or the other.


EISENBERG: She took a vacation to the Cayman Islands where she met the young and handsome Winston Shakespeare, freeing her from her stressful professional life.




MANBER: How to marry a millionaire.

EISENBERG: No, but that's an interesting idea.



MANBER: How to "Eat, Pray, Love."


EISENBERG: Yes. How to "Eat, Pray, Love." Go to the Cayman Islands and meet Winston Shakespeare. Anyone out there?

AUDIENCE: "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."

EISENBERG: "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."

JONES: My groove is still very gone. So I don't know.

COULTON: Amen, sister. All right, this is your last clue. Put the liquid form of H2O in a pot and bring it to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just one of the simple cooking tips from a long-running food network show.


COULTON: Miriam.

MANBER: "How To Boil Water.'

COULTON: You got it.



EISENBERG: Puzzle Guru Art Chung.


EISENBERG: How did our contestants do?

CHUNG: Well, answering more questions correctly is how Allison did it 'cause she is our winner.

EISENBERG: Congratulations, Allison.


EISENBERG: We will see you at the end of the show for our Ask Me One More final-round. Thank you so much, Miriam, as well.


COULTON: (Singing) We've been together since way back when. Sometimes I never want to see you again. But I want you to know after all these years, you're still one I want whispering in my ear 'cause you're still the one I want to talk to in bed, still the one that turns my head. We're still having fun, and you're still the one. You are still the one that makes me laugh, still the one that's my better half. We're still having fun, and you're still the one.


EISENBERG: Jonathan Coulton. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.