Niteside checked in with Ira Glass and Michael Ian Black during a break in a Texas hold 'em tournament last night, an event that raised money for charity.
Poker with Jokers in Kings benefited 826NYC, a nonprofit writing center that provides free tutoring and workshops for children. It is modeled after 826 Valencia, a similar charity founded in San Francisco by author Dave Eggers.
Glass, the host of "This American Life," said his past involvement with 826 had led him to agree to participate in the tournament.
"I like 826 — I've done a bunch of stuff with them," he said. “Basically, if you’ve ever met Sarah Vowell at any point in your life, at some point she drags you into an 826 fundraiser, so I, like many, many people, have been dragged into this.”
Vowell, a journalist and essayist who contributes to “This American Life,” sits on the board of 826NYC.
Black, meanwhile, said he had chosen to participate because he loves poker — and not for any other reason.
“I more like poker than I like children,” the comedian said. “I’m much more interested in gaming than I am in teaching children to write. I’ve got my own kids to worry about — I don’t need to help anyone else’s.”
“But, you know, it’s poker,” he added. “For a ‘good cause.’ You can note that I made air quotes.”
Black seemed happy to be spending the night out of his house, away from his wife and two children.
“I said to my wife, ‘Honey, I have to go out to a charity event tonight,’” he said. “And what is she going to say? ‘No, you can’t go?’”
Niteside asked Black if that would make his wife a terrible person.
“That would make her more of a terrible person. It would make her an even worse person than she already is,” he said.
The discussion then turned from poker to a different game: “Jeopardy!” The famous quiz show has been in the news this week for matching its two top-scoring human players with an IBM supercomputer named Watson, who crushed them both in a highly-publicized tournament.
“I think “Jeopardy!” is a really simple game compared to poker,” Glass said. “I think if the computer were playing poker, it would have to read the people at the table, judging their characters and looking into their immortal souls.”
“I mean, maybe I’m not enough of a computer scientist to appreciate the intricacies of it, but it seems inevitable to me that if you put a computer against people in a trivia game, the computer is going to win,” Black said. “I understand that there are all kinds of language nuances and algorithms, but it seemed like a foregone conclusion to me that any computer’s going to beat any person. And I like that.”
“I’m not afraid for the future — not because of computers,” Black added. “Robots, yes.”