Ask Me Another
12:12 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Long Before They Were Famous

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 9:42 am

A long time ago, many people's surnames indicated their occupations. If your name was "Mason," you worked with stone, if your name was "Coleman," you worked with coal, and if your name was "Sanders," you ran a medieval chicken empire. Guest musicians Paul & Storm hint contestants to an occupational surname and a celebrity who bears it.

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Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Our next two contestants are standing right here, looking very excited. We have John Wilkening and Megan Schade in front of me right now, chomping on the trivia bit.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: John, welcome.

JOHN WILKENING: Thanks. Nice to be here.

EISENBERG: I'm glad that you're here. You are a theater actor. What kind of theater? Are you...

WILKENING: The musical theater, as long as there's no dancing involved.

EISENBERG: Musical theater.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You don't dance?

WILKENING: I'm a mover.

EISENBERG: You're a mover. Oh. That sounds very expressive. And you were a Knowledge Bowl team. What's a knowledge bowl team?

WILKENING: It's when a bunch of kids in high school get together and sit around this little electronic strip and you just buzz in, answering questions about stuff you should know.

EISENBERG: Okay.

WILKENING: And that knowledge is gone now.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

WILKENING: It's useless knowledge now.

EISENBERG: Are you into trivia? Are you a trivia person?

WILKENING: I am.

EISENBERG: Good, you're going to need those skills. So you still have those?

WILKENING: It'll come in handy.

EISENBERG: Okay, good, John. And welcome to Megan.

MEGAN SCHADE: Thank you.

EISENBERG: This is interesting, you still - you used to research and write for encyclopedias.

SCHADE: I used to.

EISENBERG: Really?

SCHADE: That, too, is gone, very much like most of my high school and college.

EISENBERG: And you worked in dictionaries. Did you write the dictionary definitions?

SCHADE: I did a few very minor monosyllabic words for the dictionary.

EISENBERG: Okay.

(LAUGHTER)

ART CHUNG: Have you ever heard of "the"?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Is that one of yours? Is that your work?

SCHADE: No, I mostly did etymologies and sample sentences, where I sort of wove in all of my family members' names throughout various dictionaries.

EISENBERG: So if people put all the sample sentences in dictionaries together, it would be like your memoir?

SCHADE: It would be, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's very crafty.

All right, Paul and Storm, what is our next game.

PAUL: This round is called Long Before They Were Famous. A long time ago, many people's surnames indicated their occupations. If your name was Mason, you worked with stone. If your name was Coalman, you worked with coal. And if your name was Sanders, you ran a medieval chicken empire.

(LAUGHTER)

STORM: We're going to give you a hint about an occupational surname and a clue about a famous person who has that name. You have to identify the person. So if I said his ancestors ground grain long before this person cracked wise on "SNL's" Weekend Update, you would say Dennis Miller. The winner moves on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Are you ready?

WILKENING: Yes.

PAUL: Her family once built roofs, but she broke the glass ceiling of Britain's parliament in 1979.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: John?

WILKENING: Margaret Thatcher.

EISENBERG: Yes, that is right, John. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

STORM: His great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather may have trained falcons, but he wrote books like "Light in August."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Megan?

SCHADE: William Faulkner.

EISENBERG: There you go, correct.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: While her ancestors worked with metal, she worked herself into a tizzy as the dowager countess on "Downton Abbey."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Megan?

SCHADE: Maggie Smith.

EISENBERG: Maggie Smith is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: His ancestors once made barrels, but he's a barrel of laughs in films such as "Wedding Crashers" and "Silver Linings Playbook."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Megan?

SCHADE: Bradley Cooper.

EISENBERG: Bradley Cooper is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

STORM: His forbearers kept records in an office or maybe a court, and he presided over his annual "New Year's Rockin' Eve" broadcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: John?

WILKENING: Dick Clark.

EISENBERG: Correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: You guys are doing amazing at this game. You looked so scared at the beginning and now you're just whipping through them.

WILKENING: Still are.

EISENBERG: Still are.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Well it works for you.

PAUL: This person's ancestors made and fixed wagons, while he is a folk singer and father to musicians named Martha and Rufus.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: John?

WILKENING: Wainwright.

PAUL: Which one? There's about 20 of them.

WILKENING: That's the problem. John?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I like that you went with your own name.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We're going to need it more specific than that. Megan is holding up her hand, which is an interesting alternative to the buzzer.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHADE: Loudon.

EISENBERG: Loudon is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Close match, but Megan, you are the winner of this round, and you'll be moving on to the final showdown at the end of the show.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Thank you so much, John. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.