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Misquoting Mark Twain

Feb 20, 2013
Originally published on October 17, 2013 10:03 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

From NPR and WNYC, this is ASK ME ANOTHER, live from the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I'm your host, Ophira Eisenberg, and joining me later in the hour are our special musical guests Paul and Storm, and our puzzle guru Art Chung. Let's bring up our first two players. Please welcome Ursula Lawrence and Gregory Guity.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Welcome to you both.

URSULA LAWRENCE: Thank you.

GREGORY GUITY: Thank you.

EISENBERG: You're welcome. Now, Ursula, you are in to animal taxonomy. You love learning animals' names in Latin.

LAWRENCE: Yes, I do. You can learn a lot about an animal from the Latin name.

EISENBERG: Really?

LAWRENCE: Yes.

EISENBERG: Do you have an example?

LAWRENCE: A very good example is the order Monotremes, which encompasses a real species of platypuses and echidnas. And monotremes means one hole, because all of those animals only have one hole for important things.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I don't know how you did it with Latin, taxonomy and animals but you made it dirty, and I appreciate that.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Gregory, you're a comic book writer.

GUITY: Yes.

EISENBERG: I love that. And you love creating anthropomorphic superheroes.

GUITY: Yeah, yeah, ever since I was a kid. I used to take little, you know, notepads and make flip books. I drew a lot of cats in capes.

EISENBERG: Cats in capes.

GUITY: Yeah.

EISENBERG: What would that be in Latin, Ursula?

LAWRENCE: Oh, Felidae Capes. I don't know.

EISENBERG: There you go.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: There you go. All right, this game is called Misquoting Mark Twain. Mark Twain, of course, was the master of the quotable quote. Like "I would have written a shorter letter but I did not have the time," except he didn't actually say that. That was a French thinker by the name of Blaise Pascal.

So, in this round, we're going to give you quotes that we have intentionally misattributed to Mark Twain, and we want you to name the notable person who actually said it. The winner of this round will go to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Are you ready?

GUITY: Yeah.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

EISENBERG: Excellent. In the short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," Twain said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Ursula?

LAWRENCE: Oh, Neil Armstrong.

EISENBERG: Correct, exactly. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It was Twain's Yankee in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" who said, "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Gregory?

GUITY: Humphrey Bogart.

EISENBERG: Humphrey Bogart. Who would he be talking to in that moment?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You're in the right place, but that is not correct. Ursula, do you know the answer?

LAWRENCE: I want to say Jessica Rabbit, but I don't think that's correct.

EISENBERG: Jessica Rabbit.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jessica Rabbit may have said that.

LAWRENCE: She said it in the movie.

EISENBERG: She said it in the movie. I'm sure she did.

LAWRENCE: It may have been adapted.

EISENBERG: Anyone out there know the answer?

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIENCE YELLING)

EISENBERG: Mae West. In 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Twain wrote, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Ursula?

LAWRENCE: George Bush the first, oh.

EISENBERG: Gregory?

GUITY: Ronald Reagan.

EISENBERG: Ronald Reagan.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It was in his 1882 essay, "Advice to Youth," that Mark Twain said, "Yo, Taylor. I'm really happy for you. I'm going to let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time."

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Gregory?

GUITY: Kanye West.

EISENBERG: Kanye West.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I like the idea, though, that Taylor Swift would be Jonathan Swift's daughter and we put her in a Mark Twain time.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: On his 1895 around the world lecture tour, Twain killed with the line, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying." He killed.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Gregory?

GUITY: Dr. Kevorkian.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Close. Ursula?

LAWRENCE: I don't know.

EISENBERG: Anyone out there?

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIENCE YELLING)

EISENBERG: Woody Allen. But I like that you went for the true meaning of kill.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Making use of his signature A-B-C-B rhyme scheme, Twain once said, "I'm going to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. You can't hit what your hands can't see."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Ursula?

LAWRENCE: Muhammad Ali.

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And who could forget that famous line in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," where Aunt Polly says, "I'm different. I just have a different constitution. I have a different brain. I have a different heart. I have tiger blood, man."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Gregory?

GUITY: Charlie Sheen.

EISENBERG: Charlie Sheen.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And you won this round. Congratulations, Gregory, you will be moving on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Huge hand for Ursula, an excellent competitor.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Thank you to you both. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.