Animal Songs

Jun 11, 2021

In this music parody game, Rugrats stars Cheryl Chase and Nancy Cartwright hear songs about animals that were rewritten to be about fictional examples of those animals. If that sounds too complicated, let minnow.

Heard on Sara Bareilles, American Ninja Warrior & Rugrats

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Our next guests voice characters on the Paramount+ reboot of "Rugrats." Cheryl Chase plays the mean 3-year-old Angelica Pickles. And Nancy Cartwright plays the nervous 2-year-old Chuckie Finster. You also know Nancy as the voice of Bart Simpson. Cheryl, Nancy, welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.

NANCY CARTWRIGHT: Thank you...

CHERYL CHASE: Hey.

CARTWRIGHT: ...Ophira. Thank you, Jonathan.

CHASE: Pleasure to be here.

EISENBERG: Cheryl, I know that one of your early voice gigs was the voice of the baby in the 1987 Diane Keaton movie, "Baby Boom."

CHASE: Yeah. I mean, when my agent set me up for that, I tried - I was doing the baby voice. (Imitating baby noises).

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

CHASE: And there were 600 women also doing the same thing.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: (Laughter).

CHASE: (Imitating baby noises). And it's like, how am I ever gonna get a part like that. But I did. They...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

CHASE: ...Picked me out of 600 baby women.

COULTON: I just have to say, what a weird day that must have been for the casting people.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You know?

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Right.

CHASE: I know.

EISENBERG: Right. They're like, that baby sounds a little constipated.

COULTON: Yeah. I did...

EISENBERG: Or that baby sounds sad.

COULTON: ...Not like that baby at all.

CARTWRIGHT: You know, I had the luxury of being cast in a loop group. And this is like the creme de la creme. Cheryl, I don't know if you ever did any...

CHASE: Yes.

CARTWRIGHT: ...Looping.

CHASE: I was in a loop group.

CARTWRIGHT: It was amazing.

COULTON: What is a loop group?

CARTWRIGHT: Say, in - I'm dating myself, but "When Harry Met Sally," say, the two lead actors are in a restaurant together, and they're surrounded by extras around them that don't actually - they're getting paid to be extras. So actors at - in post-production are called in to do this atmosphere. And so there's a microphone that's in the center of the room. Or sometimes, they have it hanging. Or else they have two mikes on stands. And if they're just doing a general sound, they'll have the actors either walk very quietly or stand in a circle, and they're just mumbling amongst themselves. Or else they'll hire a couple of actors and say, I'll take - we're the couple in the back there. I'll be the gal with the red hair and the checkered top. And so you do these. You create, improvisationally, these scenes. And you're just having a conversation with another actor. And then the editor takes that and brings the sound way, way down. So you never hear what they're actually saying. It's not to draw any attention, but it's to fill in to make that whole scene work.

CHASE: I had fun in one of my loop groups where - I'm dating myself here - in "Total Recall" with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

EISENBERG: Oh, yes.

COULTON: Sure, yeah.

EISENBERG: Yes.

CHASE: Yeah, I was the little Martian girl that ran up to him and said, what's your sign? I'm a Taurus.

(LAUGHTER)

CHASE: And so he - and then he gave his line. So I actually spoke back and forth with Arnold Schwarzenegger. So...

CARTWRIGHT: Nice.

COULTON: That's a good one.

EISENBERG: So, I mean, and now here we are with the the reboot of a beloved animation show, "Rugrats." So, Cheryl, what was it like to step back into the character of Angelica. Did you just find her - did she always kind of stay with you to a certain extent? I don't know how you feel about your characters.

CHASE: Oh, yes, she - yes. I can just pull her out any time. (As Angelica) And she can say anything she wants to say. Angelica always gets the last word, you dumb baby.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Nancy, I know that, you know, you said that Chucky was one of the most difficult voices to do. And I know that you also said that you didn't originate this voice. There was a actress by the name of Christine Cavanaugh who did the voice in the original for 8 1/2 years...

CARTWRIGHT: Right.

EISENBERG: ...Retired. You stepped in...

CARTWRIGHT: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...And said, this one was particularly difficult. Why is that?

CARTWRIGHT: Yeah. Well, when they created this character, he's complicated. Chucky is a little complicated. He's constantly in fear and in terror. He's afraid to do anything. He's got a bunch of allergies. And the way Chris created that voice. She used everything - you know, it's, like, the placement of the voice.

COULTON: Yeah.

CHASE: Yeah, Nancy, you do an amazing Chucky.

CARTWRIGHT: Aww, thanks. I love him. Having Angelica there - if I were another character, I would want to be her because she is...

CHASE: Fun.

CARTWRIGHT: She's delicious. And you're so kind about her. She is just the troublemaker of the group. And yet I just want to hug her. I just want to...

(LAUGHTER)

CHASE: Funny you said that because I want to make sure that Angelica - even though she's mean and she's bad - that she is likeable, that people still like her. So thanks, Nancy.

CARTWRIGHT: Yeah.

EISENBERG: So yeah, we have a couple great games for you. So in this one, you're going to team up. You're going to work together as a team. OK. Jonathan Coulton is going to sing you the clues in this game called Animal Songs.

COULTON: That's right. We rewrote songs about animals to make them about fictional examples of these animals. And you will receive credit for doing any one of the following things - you can name the character I'm singing about, the song that I'm parodying or the artist who made it famous.

CARTWRIGHT: OK.

CHASE: OK.

COULTON: Here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

COULTON: (Singing) They're the flakes that are frosted. Selling them is my goal. Standing up on my hind legs like a human. All my stripes looking snazzy on the box near your bowl, paid by Kellogg's to tell you they're great. It's a living.

CARTWRIGHT: "Eye Of The Tiger."

COULTON: "Eye Of The Tiger" is the song. That's right, Survivor. And you - who was I singing about?

CHASE: Tony the Tiger.

COULTON: Tony the Tiger. That's right. The...

CHASE: Yeah. Yes.

COULTON: The Frosted Flakes spokes-cat.

CARTWRIGHT: (Laughter).

CHASE: Spokesperson - spokes-cat.

EISENBERG: All points that were possible were awarded.

COULTON: Solid. Solid work. OK. Here's another one.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

COULTON: (Singing) Listen up, pigs, because I'll wreck your digs. I'll huff and I'll puff, blow your house down. Here's my two cents - that Red sure is dense. She thinks I'm grandma in her gown.

CHASE: It's the Three Little Pigs.

CARTWRIGHT: Three Little Pigs, for sure.

COULTON: Three Little Pigs or - yep - Big Bad Wolf also...

CHASE: Yes.

COULTON: ...We would've accepted. Yes. Do you recognize this song?

CARTWRIGHT: "Hungry Like A Wolf" (laughter).

COULTON: Yeah. That's right.

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: Big Bad Wolf we were looking for...

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: ...And "Hungry Like The Wolf" is the song. That is correct. Duran Duran.

EISENBERG: A Duran Duran classic...

COULTON: Well done.

CARTWRIGHT: Yes. Yes.

EISENBERG: ...And Big Bad Wolf.

COULTON: All right, couple more of these.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

COULTON: (Singing) I am hot pink. I've got shades on. You might think that I'm a pest. It's a battery I am selling with a bass drum on my chest. I keep going. They won't let me rest.

CHASE: Isn't that go ask Alice?

COULTON: That's exactly right, "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane.

EISENBERG: Yes.

CHASE: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Winner, winner, winner. Chicken dinner.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Can you tell me the fictional animal that I was singing about? It's a bunny that sells batteries. Do you remember those commercials?

CHASE: Yeah.

CARTWRIGHT: Oh, yeah.

CHASE: Energizer Bunny.

COULTON: That's right.

CHASE: (Laughter).

COULTON: All right. This is the last one.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

COULTON: (Singing) Though I stand 8'2, girl, I'm not scary, no. I'm sweet. I can give you directions for how to get to Sesame Street.

CARTWRIGHT: (Laughter) You're talking about Big Bird.

COULTON: I am talking about Big Bird.

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: That is correct.

CARTWRIGHT: I'm as free as a bird.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: (Laughter) That's right.

CARTWRIGHT: Is it - "Free Bird." "Free Bird," I think.

EISENBERG: "Free Bird."

COULTON: "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. That's right. You got them all.

EISENBERG: About Big Bird - could there be a better match?

CARTWRIGHT: That's clever.

EISENBERG: Could there be a better match?

COULTON: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: After the break, we'll play another game with Cheryl Chase and Nancy Cartwright from "Rugrats." And musicians Sara Bareilles will tackle some trivia about her favorite show, "The Golden Girls." So grab a slice of cheesecake or, in my case, a slice of cake with a slice of cheese on top and stay tuned. I'm Ophira Eisenberg. And this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.