Ophira Eisenberg enjoys her trivial pursuit

Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe


Ophira Eisenberg


New York magazine named her one of 10 new comedians that funny people find funny; she’s appeared on Comedy Central and VH-1; she’s the host of a rambunctious new National Public Radio trivia and game show, which WBUR will air Saturdays at 6 p.m. starting May 5; and earlier this month, she touched down at the Somerville Theatre as the charming emcee of a night of storytelling.

Q. You’re the host of NPR’s new “Ask Me Another” show — are you a trivia person?


A. I’m not, but I admire those people. I’m the youngest of six, and I was never allowed to win any games. I have a fear of games.

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Q. What’s the most trivial piece of information you possess?

A. I’m from Canada, and I feel like the basic information I know from Canada — like who’s president — counts as trivia. I know which comedy show [Canada native] John Candy started on. That’s common knowledge in Canada.

Q. Sometimes it seems like there’s an outbreak of quiz and trivia shows on NPR. And now yours. Why do people like trivia?

A. There is this idea of collecting facts and being able to relay them, which is satisfying. You can feel like a genius when you can’t even solve your day-to-day problems.


Q. As a host of the popular Moth storytelling series you hear a lot of stories. What’s your favorite?

A. One that stands out — and has a billion hits both on the Moth podcast and Moth YouTube channel — is Ed Gavagan’s story about living in New York in the ’80s. While running a bar in the West Village, he gets caught in the middle of a gang initiation and is stabbed. Even after he recovered he was haunted, and people ask him, “Why don’t you leave New York? It’s trying to kill you,” and he reflects on it, and says if it weren’t for New York — and all the people who came to his rescue after he was injured — he wouldn’t be alive.

Q. What’s the difference between an anecdote and a story?

A. The difference between a story and an anecdote is that, in a story, the person changes in some way. If you start off, “I’m so amazing,” and you end, “I’m so amazing,” that’s not a story, and by the way no one wants to hear how amazing you are. But if at the end you’re not amazing, that’s a story everyone wants to hear.

Q. Tell me about the memoir you’re writing, “Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy.”


A. It’s a comedic memoir about dating, sex, and relationships in my teens, 20s, and 30s. Like a lot of women with a mix of low self-esteem and thrill seeking, I moved through life sleeping and being with a lot of guys. The best entry into someone’s life is sleeping with them — that’s the only way they let you stick around. I did believe in love, but I thought I’d never get married.

‘There is this idea of collecting facts and being able to relay them, which is satis-fying. You can feel like a genius when you can’t even solve your . . . problems.’

Q. But then a friend fixed you up with a guy she worked with . . .

A. At first he said, “Absolutely not. I will not date a performer. They are high maintenance and erratic.” But my friend said give it a shot. We went out, and I think we both felt we were the last two sane people left on the shelf.

Q. Are you high maintenance?

A. I think I’m the absolute opposite actually. Part of that I think is being raised in Canada (sorry!). I can’t say that I don’t like encouragement but I think it’s impolite to ask for it.

Beth Teitell can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.