In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Beth Stelling is a stand-up comedian who moved to Los Angeles this year after half a decade performing in Chicago. She made her first appearance on Conan in July and released her first comedy album—Sweet Beth in October. She’s also performing on TV Guide Channel’s Stand Up In Stilletos on Dec. 22. She talked to Gameological about her recent Nintendo 64 binge and how GoldenEye 007 might have helped her find love.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Stelling: Yes, this whole week I’ve been playing. I’m documenting it on Instagram, so you know it’s true. I got my old Nintendo 64 out of the trunk, bought a Red Baron pizza and Klondike bars and have been playing Mario Kart, Wave Race, and—what’s the Mario game with the stars, and you have to get them to open the doors to the Bowser castle?
Gameological: Super Mario 64?
Stelling: Yeah, I really like that one because it’s still a challenge to me. I never beat it as a kid.
Gameological: What prompted you to start playing Nintendo 64 again?
Stelling: Oh man, too many people asking me questions about my career and what I’m working on. [Laughs.] No, I actually found myself forgetting things a lot, and it’s like, can’t video games exercise my brain a little bit? Like a puzzle. Playing Super Mario can be like brain reps. Something to challenge me that’s fun and is outside of my current realm.
Gameological: You mentioned you played games while eating frozen pizza and ice cream, does that mean you associate gaming with self-indulgence?
Stelling: I guess so. A little bit of self-indulgence, a little bit of lack of self-control and eighth grade maybe? It was maybe earlier than that—fourth to seventh grade I think. I got the Nintendo 64 in late elementary school, early junior high, and I remember it being a big deal for my sisters and I. I also used to play Sega Genesis, but only Sonic The Hedgehog and Aladdin, so I was never a huge gamer.
Gameological: I was going to ask if gaming was a secret shame for you, but I guess if you put it on Instagram, it’s not that.
Stelling: No, I don’t think it was a shameful thing. I remember playing GoldenEye in high school, and all the high school guys played it. We’d play it at my best friend Amy’s house with her older brother, who was hot. I was dating one of his friends, and we’d play it together.
Gameological: So, did you mostly play GoldenEye to get the attention of a guy?
Stelling :Yeah, I played Goldeneye to get dick. [Laughs.] I’m kidding. I played to make Robert Palermo fall in love with me. So now I can shoot square-shouldered, stiff-walking soldiers just like the rest of the 17-year-old boys.
Gameological: Did it ever work?
Stelling: Yeah, he was totally in love with me until like five years ago. He’s married now.
Gameological: Is this week the first time you’ve played games since you guys broke up?
Stelling: I lapsed with gaming in college, but I had a stint of Draw Something last year. But I was frustrated at not having enough colors for my masterpieces, so instead of paying 99 cents, I just quit. I’ve played some Street Fighter II and Ms. Pac Man in Jimmy Kimmel’s green room. Those were fun. Hmm, what other games do I play? I play head games with men, I guess. I really fuck with them. [Laughs.]
[Stelling later followed up with this via email:] I used my Mario Kart prowess to impress boys I had crushes on. I feel like video games are often characterized as a boys’ thing, but some guys like a gal who can hang with the dudes. I guess that’s me. I somehow choose dude-like things to do. It’s not just to impress them; I genuinely enjoy them (e.g., stand-up comedy). But victory is even sweeter when you’re better than the demographic that is supposed to excel.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.