Who Would Win FTW

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Last week, the guys debated who would win against who, and this week they continue the debate in print for your reading enjoyment.


Chris: If there’s one thing that people on the Internet always love, it’s the classic “who would win” debate. There’s just such a basic and loving feeling associated with someone sitting down and screaming, “Wolverine or George Washington: WHO WOULD WIN?!”

For the longest time, Dan, Kyle, and myself would sit down to come up with No Right Answer episodes and have to pull ourselves back as one of us (usually me) would suggest an episode that was based entirely on who would win in an arbitrary thing, specifically a fight. We came fairly close to doing an episode where Batman was going to fight Captain America, but I couldn’t convince Dan that it wasn’t just a simple death battle style argument.

It warms my heart to no end that last week’s NRA struck a cord with fans asking, nay, demanding that we do another episode with “Who Would Win” very soon. Rest assured, that’ll happen in a few months, and I’ll certainly bring it to PAX Prime this year, but for now, we’ve learned a lot about this magical little topic that everyone loves so much.

Perhaps the appeal of the “Who Would Win” question is that it’s so simple insomuch as it’s a two-party system. You make a “this vs. that” debate and it feels cleaner, to some extent. Our usual MO is grabbing topics that have multiple options for commenters to debate in the forums and such, very rarely actually doing a debate that restricts the choices down to two. But sometimes it’s fun to just focus on two silly choices and run with them in a ridiculous direction. I mean seriously, Marilyn Monroe vs. Dr. Seuss in a spelling bee? That’s just fun to think about.

Generally, the thought shifts toward actual fights, the likes of which can usually only get resolved via M.U.G.E.N. or something like that. We just like thinking about who’d win in great battles, such as the classic Goku vs. Superman debate or something (which I’ve actually done in a rather long podcast a few years ago), but why is that? I think it’s got to do with our need to be right at any cost, and a battle to the death takes the debate to its logical conclusion. This may also be why so many people can get rather spirited in other debates since to them, they must take their need to be right to this same end-goal – All other opinions are obliterated.

It’s sort of difficult to break the whole thing down in one small section of a relatively small column, but I’ll certainly be watching to learn more in future episodes. We usually learn a lot about how the fans would have voted based on comments, specifically which choices are the majority favorite, but here we learned exactly three things: 1. This was a new fan-favorite episode of No Right Answer. 2. “Where can I get that game?!” 3. Dan needs to watch his own scoring system more closely. If I wasn’t so happy about winning this week’s episode, I’d be more disappointed in being declared the winner.

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Kyle: Often, I wonder just why I tend to lose these debates. This episode really pointed out a few things that I should work on. For one, I realize now that, since our debate topics and sides are chosen for us, I mainly lose because I back the wrong horse. Not for nothing, but even someone like me or Chris (who admittedly does not abide by traditional logic when he’s been challenged) has to concede a losing side. Especially when it’s Marilyn Monroe in a spelling bee.

More importantly, though, I need to focus harder on the actual debate rather than my impression of the two opposing forces. For instance, I know next to nothing about Jacques Cousteau. But I know plenty about pillow fights, (don’t ask) and really all I needed was information enough about ol’ Jacques in relation to the debate. If only I’d known this when we were filming the “Manliest Superhero” episode.

I think using this game was a great exercise as far as getting goofier with our debate topics and thinking a little further than the obvious, important questions. Maybe we should just break down and do a “Who would win in a fight?” episode at one point. It would really capture the spirit of what we wanted the show to be, the same way this episode did. At its heart, No Right Answer is less about which one of us is correct and more about asking the important questions. Don’t you all think the world is a better place now that we’re wondering if Buffy Summers would beat up Mark Twain?

Anyway, one thing is the scoring on this. Dan gets a lot of crap for some of his scoring mistakes, but remember that most of the decision-making is happening on the fly and without script or record. We don’t even write down points or anything. Dan has to piece together when he made point decisions later during editing, with a crying baby in the house.

And really, the points are a lot like Who’s Line is it Anyway? Kind of arbitrary. And we are the arbiters of such, so we’re allowed to fudge the details a bit.


Dan: Great Scott, did this episode’s popularity throw me a curve ball. Almost a complete 180 from what my feelings were about it during the editing process. Cutting and splicing the footage together, my thoughts focused on how people would complain that we were just playing a card game in front of the camera. There were even several card pulls that I had to cut for time, and I worried I was leaving the funnier parts on the cutting room floor. Our fans are great, wonderful people and they have renewed my faith once again. Our energy was high, our luck was with us, and in the end, it’s just fun to debate.

The only episode that matched this popularity in the past was our “Worst Videogame to Movie Transition”, and that one was a similar rapid-fire style as well. Perhaps there is something to learn from this, however I don’t want to rush into making every episode multi-topic. Spacing these things out just might be the secret ingredient that makes them so special.

Some people caught the grading error I made by giving Chris the first point instead of Kyle for a debate he clearly won. I mean, not only did I spell Jacques Cousteau’s first name wrong, but then I didn’t give him the pillow fight award. Was I asleep at the wheel? Pretty much yes, though I wouldn’t put it that harshly. It’s the type of thing that just required a once-through with an editing eye, but that eye was preoccupied with a teething baby. Excuses aside, you as the audience deserve a quality product, and I will continue to strive for ever higher levels of such.

Anyways, I loved being part of this episode because it was almost like an improv exercise to get us in the mood to debate. It’s definitely a stretch of the grey matter to think of legitimate reasons why Clooney would beat Lucy in musical chairs. Maybe before we do a day of shooting episodes, we’ll play a few rounds of this game to get the juices flowing. I can assure you, the episodes we filmed after this episode are top notch insanity, and I would love to give you the topics early. OK, maybe just a hint. One of the topics will be repeated when Kyle and I drive to PAX and get hungry along the way. Ooooo, you’re all in for a treat when that one airs.

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Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.