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Which Witch Is Witch?

Aug 25, 2017

Jonathan Coulton takes songs with the word "magic" in the title and parodies them to be about famous fictional witches. It's like a witch hunt, but fun!

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER coming to you from the Virginia Arts Festival. I'm Jonathan Coulton here with puzzle guru Art Chung. And now, here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(APPLAUSE)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Thank you, Jonathan. Before the break, we met our contestants, Kristen and Tadd. Soon, Jonathan Coulton, still under the curse we placed on him five years ago, will play another music parody game. But first, let's check in with our contestants. Kristen, if you could put a spell on anyone, what kind of spell would you cast?

KRISTEN CHESTER: I would cast it myself to give myself the power of telekinesis. It'd be laying on the couch and just like will that bottle of wine to come to me.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You can work on that in real life. That's what I love about that kind of spell.

CHESTER: Yeah. It's practical magic.

EISENBERG: It's very practical magic - practical household magic. Tadd, if you could cast a spell, what kind of spell would you cast?

TADD SHOLTIS: I would love to be able to generate a cone of silence. Between my wife and my daughter, I am probably saying more words to you than I will say at my house in an entire year.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: What I love about the two of you, you didn't know that you'd be paired together. We didn't know that we were getting you. But I feel like what we are giving you tonight is not only a fun night of trivia but just an escape from your lives.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So we've got a music parody called Which Witch Is Which? Well, Jonathan Coulton, which witch is which?

COULTON: All of them. We took songs with the word magic in the title, and we rewrote them to be about famous, fictional witches. So buzz in to name the witch I'm talking about. And if you're correct, you can earn a bonus point by naming the song that I am parodying.

(Singing) Whoops. I just killed her sister. My house just dropped from a twister. Though I wish it had missed her, she wants those ruby slippers from me. We're flying monkeys. Assist her. I hope this pail of water sets me free.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL RINGING)

COULTON: Kristen.

CHESTER: The song is "Black Magic Woman," and it's the Wicked Witch of the West.

COULTON: Yeah, that's correct.

(APPLAUSE)

CHESTER: So I did those in the wrong order.

COULTON: You did, but you got them both right, so it didn't matter.

CHESTER: (Laughter).

COULTON: Here we go.

(Singing) From the mind of Miyazaki, it's the story of a girl who's just 13. To complete her witches training, needs to leave her hometown for a brand new scene.

(LAUGHTER).

CHESTER: Oh.

COULTON: Oh.

EISENBERG: Kristen.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

CHESTER: It's somebody's delivery service.

EISENBERG: Oh, yes, it is.

COULTON: Yeah. It's the somebody part that we need.

CHESTER: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

CHESTER: Kiki's. Kiki's or...

ART CHUNG: "Kiki's Delivery Service" is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Yeah, that's correct.

CHESTER: Oh, my gosh.

COULTON: Wow.

CHESTER: That felt like a miracle. OK.

COULTON: You're really working hard.

CHESTER: I am.

COULTON: And do you know the name of the song?

CHESTER: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."

COULTON: That's right, by The Police.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: (Singing) Oh, King Arthur, I hate you so much. It makes me cuss and steal your sword and your throne, too. Just me - there is no us. Learned from Merlin how to make me strong. You'll be superfluous. Mordred says that I can't be wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Tadd.

SHOLTIS: Morgan le Fay.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

SHOLTIS: Don't know the song.

COULTON: Do you know the song?

SHOLTIS: No.

COULTON: That was "The Magic Bus" by The Who.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It was very impressive that you got the answer. Let's just...

CHESTER: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Let's not diminish that.

COULTON: Yeah. No. I don't mean to take away...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Let's not diminish that.

COULTON: It's kind of a letdown to not get the bonus point.

SHOLTIS: I'm feeling OK.

COULTON: Yeah. No. You're doing great.

(Singing) She likes a feast - turns her guests into wild beasts. In "The Odyssey," she turned men to swine, had them drink enchanted wine. Hermes helped out, kept Odysseus from growing a snout.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Tadd.

SHOLTIS: Circe.

COULTON: Circe is right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: And do you know the song?

SHOLTIS: No. Sorry. No.

COULTON: You don't have to apologize. That's OK.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It was "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf. Maybe it's my fault, Tadd.

(LAUGHTER)

SHOLTIS: I wasn't going to say anything.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Wow.

COULTON: Thanks for not saying anything.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Here's your next one.

COULTON: My husband Darrin, his love is, oh, so true. I pledged to act mortal. His boss has no clue. But then Endora, my mother - that's her name - she stirs up some trouble too and leaves me with the blame.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Kristen.

CHESTER: It's Samantha from "Bewitched."

COULTON: Yeah, that's right. Samantha, you got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: And can you name the song?

CHESTER: You betcha (ph).

COULTON: Yeah.

CHESTER: "This Magic Moment."

COULTON: Yeah, you got it. That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: See, Tadd?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Tadd, you just gave, like, the sitcom ending that Darren did every single episode of "Bewitched," just shrug shoulders like, I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: What? What do you want from me? (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Just shrug shoulders like, I don't know.

SHOLTIS: Beleaguered husband shrug - I've mastered it.

COULTON: That's right (laughter).

EISENBERG: That's right.

COULTON: This is your last clue.

(Singing) You may have seen me on the page in Archie Comics' golden age, a long-running series, a part of TGIF. I live at home with my two aunts, a talking cat who jokes and rants. It went seven seasons starring Melissa Joan Hart.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Kristen.

CHESTER: Sabrina. Oh.

COULTON: Oh, I'm sorry. It was Tadd.

SHOLTIS: Sabrina.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SHOLTIS: The Teenage Witch.

COULTON: Yeah. That's right. He knew it. He knew it.

SHOLTIS: And Heart's "Magic Man."

COULTON: Yeah. That's correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: Well done, Kristen. You've tied it up one game apiece.

(APPLAUSE)

CHUNG: So it's time for a quick game three. I'll give you a category. You'll go back and forth, naming things that fall in that category. The first contestant to mess up will be eliminated. Buzz in to answer first. Your category - name the first 10 letters in the Greek alphabet. We'll take the ancient or modern pronunciations.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

CHUNG: Tadd, you're first.

SHOLTIS: Alpha.

CHUNG: Correct. Kristen.

CHESTER: Beta.

CHUNG: Good guess. Correct.

SHOLTIS: Gamma.

CHUNG: Correct.

CHESTER: Delta.

CHUNG: Correct. You guys are in fraternities?

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Tadd.

SHOLTIS: Epsilon.

CHUNG: Correct. Wow. Kristen.

CHESTER: Phi.

CHUNG: Sorry, Kristen. That isn't one of the first 10 letters of the Greek alphabet. The remaining letters were zeta, eta, theta, iota and kappa. So, Kristen, I'm sorry to say you have to go. Tadd, congratulations. You're headed to the final round.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.