He's known for his stand-up comedy, as well as a particular sleepwalking episode, but asked to play a game on...Catholicism? Holy moly! We quiz him on the Bible and more in this VIP challenge.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Please welcome back are very important puzzler, Mike Birbiglia.
EISENBERG: Is it true that your mother thought you were going to be a priest when you were a kid?
MIKE BIRBIGLIA: Yeah. Yeah. I thought so too. I mean I was an altar boy as a kid. And the answer's no. I wasn't. And...
BIRBIGLIA: I really - I was all in on Catholicism growing up. I went to Catholic school and I thought I was going to be a priest. In retrospect, it's so - it makes a lot of sense at the time, it's so silly. I liked how the priests get so many laughs.
EISENBERG: Did you have a funny priest?
BIRBIGLIA: Yeah. Yeah. Well, no. It's not even that the priests are funny. Their audiences - they're not called that. But...
BIRBIGLIA: The parishioners, they don't have that high of standards for priest jokes. So priests would be like, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Boy. And people would be like, Father Patterson's hilarious. And I'm like, he's not funny, I'm funny. I should be the priest.
EISENBERG: This is amazing because we asked our VIPs, you know, what would you like to be quizzed about? What is - and it could be anything. You can choose anything.
EISENBERG: And we did not expect for you to go, how about Catholicism? We were like, all right. I mean it was excellent.
BIRBIGLIA: And I did not study up. But I mean, I could've been like, Catholicism, I don't know anything, and then did like Catholicism for dummies.
BIRBIGLIA: But, no, I did not brush up. So we're going to reveal how dumb I am in moments.
EISENBERG: And your wife, Jenny?
EISENBERG: She is...
BIRBIGLIA: She's Jewish.
EISENBERG: She's Jewish.
BIRBIGLIA: So I'm Catholic. Together we're nothing.
BIRBIGLIA: And I think we disappointed everyone involved in our lives because we got married at City Hall, which is its own type of religion.
BIRBIGLIA: That religion being socialism.
EISENBERG: Well, it's like getting married at the DMV.
BIRBIGLIA: It is like being married at the DMV. Did you do it too?
EISENBERG: I did. Yeah.
BIRBIGLIA: It's exactly what it's like.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BIRBIGLIA: Because you go in, there's metal detectors. There's like long lines.
EISENBERG: And then afterwards, did you go for a drink?
BIRBIGLIA: We went for pizza.
BIRBIGLIA: And so Jenny and Kathy and I went for thin crust pizza.
BIRBIGLIA: Then we went to Kathy's sleep lab.
EISENBERG: We have another Kathy that you're playing for. So if you get enough questions right, Kathy Yi of Boise, Idaho is going to win a prize.
BIRBIGLIA: There's an army of Kathy's listening to this.
EISENBERG: During the holy period of Lent...
EISENBERG: Adult Catholics are supposed to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from eating certain foods on Friday. Which of these dishes would you be allowed to eat on a Friday during Lent? A, Bacon and eggs. B, Lobster roll. C, Turkey Burger?
BIRBIGLIA: Turkey Burger. No.
BIRBIGLIA: No. No. That's just the thing I like to eat.
BIRBIGLIA: That's not a religion. That's just taste.
BIRBIGLIA: Allowed to eat, fish. You can eat fish.
BIRBIGLIA: So lobster, right?
EISENBERG: Yes. Exactly. Lobster roll.
BIRBIGLIA: I was, in fairness, it was a little cheating. Because the reaction, I changed my answer.
EISENBERG: An important tenant of Roman Catholicism is that the bread and wine offered during Holy Communion literally becomes the flesh and blood of Christ. What's the 18 letter word that is commonly used to describe this Roman Catholic doctrine?
BIRBIGLIA: Oh, Transubstantiation.
BIRBIGLIA: That's an important one. Very important to know that.
EISENBERG: It is?
BIRBIGLIA: It's like the key to the whole thing.
BIRBIGLIA: If you don't understand the Transubstantiation's happening in Catholicism, then you might as well be an Episcopalian.
EISENBERG: Which of these phrases does not come from the Bible: A, a drop in the bucket, B, all that glitters is not gold or C, the blind leading the blind?
BIRBIGLIA: Blind leading the blind is not from the Bible.
EISENBERG: Is that your answer?
BIRBIGLIA: Can I get another guess?
BIRBIGLIA: All that glitters?
BIRBIGLIA: Yeah. I'm so dumb. That should've obviously...
EISENBERG: Yeah. That's what I love. Congratulations. Yeah.
BIRBIGLIA: That's obviously the answer.
EISENBERG: No, not obviously.
BIRBIGLIA: But then, I went to the Shakespeare Theatre in London and you learned that basically Shakespeare invented every phrase and that sounded like one of his.
EISENBERG: Yup. It was one of his.
BIRBIGLIA: Oh, it was.
EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Glitters gold. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BIRBIGLIA: No, but the whole thing was what want from the...
WILL HEINZ: Yeah. Shakespeare didn't write the Bible.
EISENBERG: All right. How about this? In a legendary 1975 NFL playoff game, Roger Staubach...
BIRBIGLIA: Oh, yeah.
EISENBERG: ...threw a desperation 50 yard touchdown pass to give the Dallas Cowboys a dramatic victory over the Minnesota Vikings. And when reporters asked him what was going through his mind during the play, he closed his eyes and said what?
BIRBIGLIA: There better be choices for this.
EISENBERG: All right.
BIRBIGLIA: There's no way I know that.
EISENBERG: Puzzle guru Will Heinz, do you have a hint?
BIRBIGLIA: I know less about football than I do about religion.
HEINZ: OK. I don't know much either. But how about, it's a description of like a desperation play, like a...
BIRBIGLIA: Oh, Hail Mary.
EISENBERG: Yeah. There you go.
BIRBIGLIA: Wait. That - so the derivation of that was from a game where he claimed to have said Hail Mary?
JULIAN VELARD: He throw a Hail Mary pass.
BIRBIGLIA: And no, but he claimed to have been saying one in his head?
EISENBERG: That's right. Yes.
BIRBIGLIA: That's insane. I didn't know that.
BIRBIGLIA: The thing about ASK ME ANOTHER is that...
BIRBIGLIA: ...it's not just a game, it's a place where we learn.
BIRBIGLIA: And we do it together. Yeah.
EISENBERG: All right. Finally, music plays a big role in Catholicism - from hymns and masses to Gregorian Chants. Please give us the title of this sort of Catholic song.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG")
VELARD: (Singing) Come out Birbiglia, don't make me wait, you Catholic boys start much too late. Aw, but sooner or later it comes down to fate. I might as well be the one...
BIRBIGLIA: (Singing) Only the good die young.
VELARD: Well done.
BIRBIGLIA: Is that a religious-based question? I don't know.
EISENBERG: Yeah. We decided, yes.
BIRBIGLIA: OK. Great.
EISENBERG: You did it.
BIRBIGLIA: Thank you very much.
EISENBERG: You got enough right.
EISENBERG: Kathy Yi of Boise, Idaho will receive a ASK ME ANOTHER anagram T-shirt. And let's hear it for our VIP, Mike Birbiglia.
BIRBIGLIA: Thank you very much.
BIRBIGLIA: Thanks, Ophira, Will, Julian, thank you guys.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK YOUR BODY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.