Mystery Guest

May 4, 2018
Originally published on May 4, 2018 11:43 am

This episode's mystery guest, Laurie Pressman, has a job in which she helps select the winner of a well-known annual award. Can you solve the mystery before Jonathan and Ophira do?

Heard on Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

While Jake and Jacob get ready for the final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is Mystery Guest. A stranger is about to come on stage. Jonathan and I have no idea who this person is or what makes them special, but our puzzle guru Art Chung does.

ART CHUNG: That's right, Ophira. You and Jonathan will work together as a team to figure out our mystery guest's secret by asking yes-or-no questions. Mystery guest, please introduce yourself.

LAURIE PRESSMAN: Hi. My name is Laurie Pressman, and as part of my job, I help select the winner of a well-known annual award.

EISENBERG: OK. Whatever this person is selected for, is this a job or skill that you yourself have done or do?

PRESSMAN: No.

EISENBERG: Interesting.

JONATHAN COULTON: Is the award related to the arts?

PRESSMAN: Could be.

COULTON: But not necessarily.

CHUNG: Not really.

PRESSMAN: Yeah, not necessarily.

COULTON: Is this a generic award - like, a person of the year or a thing of the year?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Is it for something specific? Is it for a specific skill or a specific area? Or is it just general greatness...

PRESSMAN: I love general greatness. That's very funny (laughter).

COULTON: ...'Cause I've won seven general greatness awards.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: I'm going to say, is it for something specific?

PRESSMAN: Yeah.

CHUNG: And as a hint, I'm going to say...

PRESSMAN: Don't hint. Don't hint.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: I've been asked not to hint.

COULTON: All right.

PRESSMAN: (Laughter).

COULTON: But...

PRESSMAN: All right.

CHUNG: We - this is a bit of a curveball.

COULTON: Is it a person who wins the award?

PRESSMAN: No.

EISENBERG: Oh, OK. Is it a animal?

PRESSMAN: No.

COULTON: Is it a place? Is it awarded to a city or a state or something like that?

PRESSMAN: No.

EISENBERG: Is it a vapor?

(LAUGHTER)

PRESSMAN: No.

EISENBERG: By the way, is this award for the best?

COULTON: Is this a positive award?

(LAUGHTER)

PRESSMAN: Yes, it's a positive award.

COULTON: OK.

PRESSMAN: And it would not be defined as best or worst. I can't say any more.

EISENBERG: It's a cultural phenomenon of some sort.

PRESSMAN: Yes.

COULTON: OK (laughter).

EISENBERG: That was the first time I've heard you used the word yes.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I feel we're different now with each other. We're different...

PRESSMAN: Yes, we are.

COULTON: It's a cultural phenomenon.

EISENBERG: Cultural phenomenon - I said those words. I don't even really know what they mean.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Well, it's pretty broad. It's pretty broad.

CHUNG: It might be something that if you were buying a house...

EISENBERG: If I was buying a house...

CHUNG: ...Or redecorating your apartment...

EISENBERG: Best broker.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: OK, redecorating my apartment, OK - oh, are you selecting the Pantone Color of the Year?

CHUNG: Yes.

PRESSMAN: Yes.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

COULTON: Yeah.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

PRESSMAN: I am shocked.

COULTON: Yeah.

CHUNG: Hold on. Hold on.

PRESSMAN: I am...

CHUNG: So Laurie is vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, where she and her team of color experts do everything from color trend forecasting to brand color development. And as part of her job, she helped select Pantone's color of the year.

EISENBERG: So first of all, what color are we in right now?

PRESSMAN: Ultraviolet.

COULTON: Woah.

EISENBERG: That's intense.

COULTON: Talk about a curveball.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: You can't even see it.

(LAUGHTER)

PRESSMAN: But you can.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: It's an award - it's for bugs. Only bugs get it.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And so you - ultraviolet was chosen because it best represents where we are at as a global community.

PRESSMAN: So when we talk about the color of the year, it's not a prediction. It's a reflection - what's taking place in our world at the particular moment in time. And the color we select is what we feel people are looking for that color can help to answer. So it's not about feeling angry, which we know a lot of people were and we pick red. And one of the...

(LAUGHTER)

PRESSMAN: It's not about that. It doesn't work like that. But one of the really overriding choices or reasons behind the selection this year for ultraviolet was - so we're living in this world that's constantly moving and constantly changing, and we have to adapt, and we have to keep up. And you look at the people that are succeeding are people that are not inside a box or thinking outside a box. There is no box. And you look at Jack Ma, and you look at Jeff Bezos, and you look at Elon Musk, and you look at all these people that have completely changed the game.

So when you look at the ultraviolet, it's a blue-based purple shade. It's an introspective shade. It's a thoughtful shade. It's a meditative shade. And it's about visionary thinking. It's about originality. It's about nonconforming. You look at the artists that have used that color. You think of Jimi Hendrix. You think of Prince. You think of David Bowie. You think of Grace Jones - people that are different from the norm, people that prided themselves on being different.

EISENBERG: So do they throw out 10 colors, and they say, one of these is going to be the finalist?

PRESSMAN: No. We have a global team of people. We've been doing trend forecasting since 1999. We live, eat and breathe color. I see my world. I'm wearing black.

(LAUGHTER)

PRESSMAN: So you probably can't tell (laughter), but we see everything through the lens of color. We're looking at what's taking place, and how does that manifest itself out in color?

CHUNG: And it takes a few years for a color to become a trend. So what can you tell us about what's coming down the pike?

PRESSMAN: Oh, boy, we could be here a long time (laughter). I don't want to talk about color of the year for 2019 because that would be way too early, and we're still living in our world of ultraviolet. If we go back to, you know, that basic premise that color reflects the culture, you can still see the greens being very important. Nature has been an important part of our lives. And it's become increasingly important. You're seeing the blues continue for that same reason. The teals - so the blue-base greens, the green-base blues. Again, it's that blend. And then also, there's this whole concept of play and invention and creation.

Some of that is manifested in these really bright, bright shades. By the same token, it's not just about the bright. It's also reaching itself into the mid tones. But it's - if we go bright, mid tone could also - the pastel shades, the softer shades.

EISENBERG: Very cool. I had no idea the background of what color theory was all about in terms of an actual business. And I'm very happy to know that you guys spend so much time picking ultraviolet. It's going to make me like that color more even if I can't see it.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Give it up for our mystery guest, Laurie Pressman, the vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.