Actor Micah Stock (Netflix's Bonding) and comic Beth Stelling (Girl Daddy on HBO Max) play an audio game where great quotes from theatre are read poorly by an emotionless robot. "Oh, yeah? See if you could do any better." Said the robot.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Our next two guests are friends from Ohio. Micah Stock is a Tony-nominated actor who stars in the Netflix series "Bonding" and the Disney+ show "The Right Stuff." And he's here with return contestant comedian Beth Stelling. Her special "Girl Daddy" is on HBO Max. Micah, Beth, hello. Welcome.
BETH STELLING: Hey. Thanks for having us.
MICAH STOCK: Hello. Thank you so much for having us.
EISENBERG: So you two have known each other - you're both from Ohio. And you've known each other forever?
STELLING: Since we were kids.
EISENBERG: Kids? Oh, my - what?
STOCK: Yeah. I hope it's OK to say that Beth has just a couple of years on me.
STELLING: It's true.
STOCK: So there were many years where our - where I knew her, but she probably didn't know me.
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Oh, yeah.
STOCK: I knew her because I idolized her and wanted to take her to prom.
STELLING: Had I only known. I've actually missed now a few opportunities. So our timing has been off.
STOCK: You would have - when I was in eighth grade and you were a junior, you would have taken me to prom?
STELLING: If it weren't illegal, yes.
EISENBERG: And were you both in, you know, whatever theater or, you know, arts programs that were offered?
STELLING: Yeah. So we had our own musicals at the school and plays. And we had speech and debate, which is really how we connected, with speech and debate...
STELLING: ...Because I was an older student in that. And I just, you know - maybe I was the state champion.
STOCK: Speech and debate...
EISENBERG: Dominated. You dominated.
STELLING: I don't know. I was the state champion.
STOCK: She did. She was. And I'll say, speech and debate was like competitive acting. It was like - you know, acting is very subjective when you go out and do it later. But this was acting that you could win.
STOCK: So it was extremely, extremely alluring. And Beth was like - you know, she was the hero of competitive acting.
STOCK: I, too, was state champion years later, inspired by Beth.
STELLING: I still have my plaque. It's in the shape of Ohio.
STOCK: I'm in my parents' house.
STOCK: And I actually think the plaque is right there on that shelf.
COULTON: It's right there (laughter).
EISENBERG: All right. So we have a couple games for you that are perfect.
STELLING: I'm excited.
EISENBERG: OK. So this first one, you are going to work together. It's a very classy game about theater.
EISENBERG: So here's what we did. We picked quotes from great theatrical roles. And then we had an emotionless robot read them.
EISENBERG: And all you have to do is give us the name of the play that the quote comes from. Also, just to point out, none of these are musicals traditionally.
STOCK: That's helpful...
STOCK: ...For me.
EISENBERG: Here's your first clip.
EMOTIONLESS ROBOT: Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
STELLING: I mean, do you have a clue, Micah?
EISENBERG: OK. Micah is nodding his head.
STOCK: I believe that it is Tennessee Williams.
STOCK: OK. And I believe the character is Blanche DuBois.
STOCK: From "A Streetcar Named Desire."
STELLING: Oh, my God.
EISENBERG: That is right. That is right.
STOCK: Also, who did you get to read that? Because they are riveting.
COULTON: It's great. It's a great reading. All right. Here's your next one.
EMOTIONLESS ROBOT: Some people build fences to keep people out. And other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold onto you all. She loves you.
STELLING: I mean...
COULTON: Very unsettling. (Laughter).
EISENBERG: It does sound like my family trying to express affection.
STELLING: I guess part of me - like, I don't - I'm getting thrown off because the only thing that's coming to mind for me is "Glass Menagerie." But it's very clear that I did none of my work in college.
EISENBERG: It's OK. I will say that the name of this play is in that little bit of dialogue.
STELLING: Oh, Micah, you have to know, then.
STOCK: The play is "Fences."
STELLING: Oh, my God. Thank goodness.
STOCK: The playwright is the illustrious August Wilson.
STELLING: It's a good thing they didn't make us compete because it's two - you got two.
STOCK: I know. Honestly, I was scared when they told us what the game was going to be at first because, like, oh, this is really embarrassing. You have two theater majors...
STOCK: ...Who may not be able to identify these plays.
STELLING: OK, one that went to...
STELLING: ...A real conservatory...
STELLING: ...And one who went to an Ohio school for theater.
EISENBERG: That's the difference?
STELLING: And after I - (laughter) after my first play there, which was "Birds" by Aristophanes, my mom goes, are you sure this is what you want to be doing?
COULTON: Oh, wow. That's nice. That's nice, mom.
STELLING: When, really, she is, like, truly the most supportive woman of all time.
EISENBERG: All right. You don't know. There's more questions, Beth.
STELLING: Oh, I want to hear more.
EISENBERG: You could nab them. You could nab them.
STELLING: OK. Maybe.
EISENBERG: OK. Here's your next one.
EMOTIONLESS ROBOT: Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll wife, just as at home I was father's doll child. And here, the children have been my dolls.
EISENBERG: Beth, you nodded. You nodded at the first...
EISENBERG: ...Cyber moment of that.
STELLING: But that's only because I was like, oh, "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen.
COULTON: Yeah. That's the answer. All right. This is the last clue.
EMOTIONLESS ROBOT: Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads.
STOCK: Is it "Titus Andronicus"?
COULTON: No. I'm sorry, it's not.
EISENBERG: How about if we said, it's not "Hamlet." But it's a - it follows a couple other characters from "Hamlet."
STOCK: Oh, is it "Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead" by Tom Stoppard?
EISENBERG: Yes, yes.
STELLING: Wow. OK.
EISENBERG: And they're flipping a coin. And it only seems to land one way.
STOCK: Oh, yeah.
STELLING: You know what's interesting, by the way?
STELLING: That wasn't...
STELLING: If I'm not mistaken, was that not done by duos in speech and debate? "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."
STOCK: Oh, for sure.
STOCK: It was one of the ones that - it was one of the ones that when someone chose it, you're like, you're not going to win.
STELLING: Yeah, exactly.
COULTON: Too obvious.
STELLING: We'll hear you out for these next 10 minutes.
STELLING: But we're not going to like it.
EISENBERG: You both did fantastic. Well done.
STELLING: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.