Nostalg ISH: R&B Comeback Queen JoJo, 2000s Fame, ‘Good To Know’ Album

Nostalg ISH: R&B Comeback Queen JoJo, 2000s Fame, ‘Good To Know’ Album (Artwork created by Nimah Gobir)

In the Season 3 finale of Adult ISH, co-hosts Nyge Turner and Merk Nguyen take a blast to the past with "Nostalg ISH." R&B artist JoJo aka the "Comeback" queen shares backstories behind her new music and why 12-year-old stardom low-key sucks. Then, the co-hosts play a storytelling game with Dave Nadelberg, creator of "The Mortified Podcast," to see how they can best one-up each other in true playground fashion. Be sure to follow all our socials at @yrAdultISH!

Scroll to the bottom for the full transcript of the episode.

What's "Good To Know" About Growing Up

R&B singer-songwriter JoJo, also known as Joanna Levesque, looks at the camera confidently while popping the collar of her jacket.
"I am simultaneously a bad girl and a good woman. I've kind of embraced that."
(Photo courtesy of Warner Records)

Who remembers replaying "Leave (Get Out)" by JoJo until your boombox scratched your CD in the early 2000s? We do! Adult ISH catches up with the R&B singer-songwriter about the entirety of her twenties, how her new album "good to know" reflects that and how she's #sorrynotsorry for being simultaneously "classy and a big ol' freak."

Storytelling Face-Off

A set of the card game "I Can't Believe I Did That" from the makers of Mortified is shown with the subtitle: 'The game that gives you points for sharing awkward, awesome, and unforgettable memories.'
"Dad, what happened to Nelly?"
(Photo courtesy of the makers of Mortified)

Nyge and Merk play the first-ever game of "I Can't Believe I Did That," to see who can tell the most memorable stories from the good ol' days of childhood. Dave Nadelberg, co-creator of the game (and creator of "Mortified") joins to ensure maximum "awws" and laughs in this trip down memory lane. You can pre-order a copy of the game here!

Episode Transcript

JoJo: What's up? It's JoJo and you are listening to Adult ISH, brought to you by YR Media and Radiotopia. Yeah!

[Music Break]

Merk: Hello everybody and welcome to the Season 3 finale of Adult ISH, a show produced by YR Media! It’s ya girl Merk Nguyen.

Nyge: And your boy, Nyge Turner. I just wanna start off by giving y'all a big shoutout for making it this far. You are the first Adult ISH Class of 2020 who, man, y'all have been through some stuff. I’m not even about to sugarcoat it. 2020 has been a year.

Merk: It totally has. Not only outside of the show but also inside of this show where we figure out our life ishssues as young adults. Nyge, what’s one of the most memorable moments this season for you?

Nyge: Uh, probably going through the period simulation you put me through in our "Period ISH" episode. 

Merk: Yes, we bleed together but now you can empathize with people who bleed! you've got it all now.

Nyge: Yeah and now anyone who wants to try this non-FDA approved experiment ... and do like 500 situps to mimic cramps and eat all the wings you want? Well, here's a clip from the piece.

[Music Break]

Nyge: So it's officially go time. My period journey has begun. Merk has me mix four teaspoons of corn starch, one tablespoon of water and half a teaspoon of red food coloring. And I repeat that process for a few batches. Then finally, I combine the batch of period cocktails together to get a multi-textured substance that looked a bit like Silly Putty and looked rough and chalky when it dried. This is so fun, guys! I'm having a great time!

[Music Break]

Nyge: That segment really made me look at periods totally different, I had no idea it was a full-time job every month. So shoutouts to anybody who has periods because I went through a much easier version of one and it was no joke. So I can only imagine what it’s really like. But I also like when I got to open up and have an honest talk with my girlfriend about the trauma I experienced when she farted in my mouth on our “Hitched ISH” episode. 

Merk: Yeah and now we’ll never think of jambalaya in the same way.

Nyge: Eww, stop! What about for you?

Merk: Dang, so many moments. But I’d probably say it was talking to the cast of HBO’s “Betty” on our recent "Future ISH Female" episode ... when we talked about how sk8er bois try to beef with female sk8ers. So here's a quick flashback.

Merk: It's like one minute they're flirting with you and the next minute they're tryna fight you. Is that what being a skater is like?

Everyone: (laughs)

Dede Lovelace: Yeah, it's like a mixture of, "Oh yeah. She's a bro but also kinda cute."

Rachelle Vinberg: She doesn't like me? I hate her!

Dede: It's getting better.

Merk: (laughs) I would definitely say, "See ya later, boi!" to those sk8er bois. Weren’t you one of them back in the day?

Nyge: I was, not one of them but I was a skater boi for sure though.

Merk: Remind me to come to your skate park when I actually get a board.

Nyge: I mean you could, but you probably for sure will not see me there. (laughs) And because of quarantine, we had to make some changes to how we produce the show. To say we did most of this season from inside our closets at home? Sheesh. I got really hot in there sometimes. I know Merk did too. She was always showing off them pit stains.

Merk: Yeah, Season 3 has been quite our literal blood, sweat and tears ‘cause I kinda sorta broke up with my boyfriend and family earlier this season. We’re just so glad y’all have been here for the adulting ride along with our guests like actor Jason Genao who plays Ruby from Netflix’s “On My Block” and Fran from "The Friend Zone Podcast." And now that we’ve come to the end, we wanted to reflect on other parts of our past, especially the nostalgic moments. So that’s why today’s episode is called "Nostalg ISH."

Nyge: So today we’re bringing on people who live and breathe nostalgia for us. First, is R&B singer JoJo! Yes, the legend herself graces the Adult ISH stage with her presence. She’ll tell us about why stardom is embarrassing at 12 years old and what to say when your auntie tells you, “Ooh, baby those songs are dirty!” 'cause yeah, she got some of those in her new album for sure.

Merk: And later, Nyge and I are gonna play a storytelling game with our friend from our Radiotopia network, Dave Nadelberg, the creator of "The Mortified Podcast." 

Nyge: That’s right! Closing out the show in a big way by humiliating ourselves, once again, by talking about some embarassing moments from our childhood. So let’s get to it!

[Episode Break]

Nyge: So it's the moment you all have been waiting for. We've got our last featured guest of the season with us. She's an R&B singer and songwriter who you know from her bops like "Leave (Get Out)" and "Too Little, Too Late." Earlier this year, she finally won her first Grammy for Best R&B Song with artist PJ Morton.

Merk: She went through intense legal battles with her former label who pulled her first two albums off of streaming services, so she took matters into her own hands. We're going to get into that and her new album in a second. But, JoJo, thanks for joining us. 

JoJo: What’s up, guys?

(“Gold” by JoJo plays)

Merk: So the song you just heard is called "Gold" off her latest album, "good to know." JoJo, a lot of my friends were like " I love JoJo, but why'd she take off her older songs and re-upload them? It's not the same!" 

JoJo: Oh my God!

Merk: And I'm like, "Y'all don't even know the full story!" So for those listeners who are fans, but not hardcore fans like me and Nyge, can you tell us what went down? 

JoJo: Sure, I signed a contract when I was 12 years old and basically signed away the rights to my voice. But I didn't realize that because you just don't realize that. The lawyer that my mom and I were working with was like, "This is the best contract that you'll get." Anyway, putting out my first two albums with the label that I signed to absolutely changed my life. I would not be talking to you now if it weren't for them. I am very grateful for the experience of the success that we had together. But unfortunately, things happened and they were no longer a record label. They were going through a lot of stuff behind the scenes and they weren't able to put out music. They didn't seem like they were interested in really even being in the music industry anymore, but they wouldn't let me go. There were a lot of lawsuits against them from other artists like Toni Braxton and Timbaland. I don't think they ended up making a deal with any of the streaming services. Maybe they were for a moment, but they didn't renew it. That's why you can't find Aaliyah's music on any streaming services as well, because she was signed to them. So, long story short, I had to get out of that contract just to be able to move forward with my career. So, it's not that I ever wanted to re-record my first two albums because I'm a friggin’ weirdo who's obsessed with being revisionist or, like, I just love those old songs. I really don't care. I did it out of necessity because I was like, "I see my history being snatched up from under me and I have to do something about this and reclaim my time."

Nyge: Right. So I talked to my cousin about this interview, and she immediately was like, "Oh my gosh! You've got to talk to her about her song ‘Leave (Get Out)!’ ” That came out in 2004. That's what you're known for in her world. But, I had mentioned this to all my bros who are big hip hop and R&B heads. And as soon as I mentioned it, they're like, "Yo, you gotta talk to her about her cover of Drake’s song ‘Marvin's Room.’ " So you're fasho a "certified remix and cover legend," which is a direct quote from one of my boys. And on this album, you teamed up with another re-make legend, Tory Lanez, and gave us the gift of “Comeback.” What was the process of making that? Did y'all have a combo together where you're like, "Yo, we got to do this for the culture?"

Jojo: We had been talking about working on something for the past couple of years, actually. We did a show together at some Ivy League school, like some summer concert or whatever. Super random, but I actually loved his first single that he put out. (sings) "You gon’ have to do more than just. You gon’ have to do less when you..."

Nyge: Yeah, say it!

JoJo: Yeah, the one with the sample. I think it was a Brownstone sample. So when I saw him perform live, I was like, "Okay, wow. He actually has a dope stage presence." Like, "This is more than just that one song." I wasn't familiar with anything besides that. Then "Broke In A Minute" became, like, my friggin’ song of this year. When he put it out I was like (sings) "I ain't been broke in a minute, don't get offended..." I loved it! When I wrote "Comeback," 30 Roc, the producer, was like, "Yo, this would be really fire to have a feature on it." I was like, "Yeah." Tory was actually the first person that both of us were thinking of because we were throwing back names with each other. And this is way before 'Quarantine Radio.' So it's actually really funny that he was already on the record before that popped off. He, you know, became pretty much the king of this quarantine that we're all going through. 

Nyge: Before "follow the guidelines." 

JoJo: Right, "guidelines." So when I wrote the song, I was just like, "Am I saying this shit? Yes, I am. This is how I talk with my friends. This is who my girls know me to be. So, whatever. It is what it is.” I sent the song to him, because we had been talking about getting in the studio. Then when everything started changing in the world, I was like, "I'm just going to send him the song, because I won't be able to pull up on him." So I sent it to him and I was like, "Yo, let me know if this resonates with you." And he's like, "Whoa, I'm definitely the guy for this." He's like, "Oh, you went crazy! Let me send you something back." So, he sent me something back and I'm like, "Damn! Whoa, you just kind of killed me on my own song!"

Nyge: When Tory was like, "Wait," I was like, "Nah! He's tripping!" 

(“Comeback” by JoJo feat. Tory Lanez & 30 Roc plays)

JoJo: Yeah!

Nyge: He’s tripping! Yeah, both of y'all bodied that. I was so juiced.

JoJo: I knew that he would go crazy on it and I shouldn't have expected anything less. But when he sent back the verse, I was like, "I love this!"

Nyge: I'm curious. While you were riding high at the age of 13, when you were the youngest solo artist in Billboard history, were you ever cognizant of how young you were and wished like, "Dang. I wish I was like 15 or 16" or something like that or a little bit older?

JoJo: I was hyper, hyper conscious of how young I was. I was so embarrassed because nobody was that young and I felt really alone. I mean, not that anybody needed to feel like, "Oh, poor baby!" It wasn't anything like that. But I was like, "I want to hang out." [But] like, "Nobody wants to hang out with me cause I'm a fetus!" And, you know, boys who I had a crush on, like, couldn't have a crush on me because I was a friggin’ baby.

Nyge: I want to know, are there any moments where talking or acting older kind of backfired?

JoJo: Oh my God. There was this artist, who isn't really around anymore, but nah, he knew how old I was! He would be backstage at these shows. Nothing ever happened between him and I. Again, I was a child and my mom was always right there holding my hand. But I remember he got me [close] enough to where he could say something in my ear and he's like, "Come back to my country and be my princess," or "be my queen," or something really creepy like that. My mom, like, went left on him. But, whether or not he thought I was 13 or 16, he was still grown! 

Nyge: Yeah, that’s wild.

JoJo: But mind you, I did like the attention at the time. And I'm really thankful that my mom was like, "Hell no, you little girl!" Like, she never let me travel by myself until I was 18. So even when I had my first boyfriend at 14, she would come with me to see him in Maryland. I was so annoyed at the time, but she saved me from some situations that could have been totally different. 

Nyge: Shout outs, mom!

Merk: You know, what I love about your songs from this album ... songs like "Man," at first when you listen to it, you're like, "Oh, this is about a former flame or one of my lovers." But then when you hear it again, it's actually really about you. I got that vibe from the song "Small Things," which is one of my faves and my sisters. So let’s play a clip of that.

(“Small Things” by JoJo plays)

Merk: So, this song, it gets me teary-eyed every time I listen to it, because it reminds me of my own growth into my adulthood, which I'm currently doing right now, being 23 and all. Are you being intentional with having those double meanings in your songwriting? 

JoJo: To answer you question, no. I wasn't being intentional with it. When I think of "Small Things" it was initially about a relationship and stepping on these emotional landmines in LA. And being like, "Oh God! This image makes me think of him or this smell. Every white Mercedes." I was like, "Oh God! Is that him?" But then, after I lived with the song, it made me think of my dad who passed away a few years ago. It can apply to so many things. I didn't intentionally write these songs to have, like, double meaning. But I love that they can. 

Nyge: Yeah, that's dope. So your music is listened to by young people everywhere, including us. I mean, you started out in the industry when you were 12. It's cool to say that we grew up with you, because we kind of are in the same age group. And you clearly are embracing the transition period to a young adult life. You know, you talk about your sexuality and you talk about drinking in songs like "Pedialyte," which I keep telling Merk is the hangover mood. 

Merk: Which I didn't know! I thought it was coconut water, and he's like, "No, it's Pedialyte." 

Nyge: No, it’s Pedialyte!

Merk: See, exactly!

Nyge: I'm so glad that you're out here teaching the streets. But basically, it's like some real adult ish, though. Do you ever feel like you have to, like, edit yourself when it comes to your music videos or lyrics or whatever, because of your younger fans? 

JoJo: Honestly, no. Not because of my younger fans, but more so, because of my friggin’ family. Like, because my Aunt Connie would be like, "Joanna! Joanna, what are you doing? You're supposed to be classy!" I'm like, "Connie, I'm classy, but I'm also a big ol’ freak! Like, what do you want me to do? I am simultaneously classy and trashy. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I'm not going to live up to what you think a woman is supposed to be. But I'm done with that." You know what I mean? Like, I am simultaneously a bad girl and a good woman. I've kind of embraced that. 

Merk: So you said this album is like writing a 15-yearlong journey of learning how to love, accept and trust yourself. Your last song, "Proud," really speaks on its own. You've got this amazing outro that ends beautifully with you and your mom. Can we cue that up? 

(“Proud” by JoJo plays)

JoJo’s Mom: You have to live in the present, Jo. The thing that gets you in trouble and gets you thinking negatively and depressed is living in the past and thinking about the past. The more you dwell on it, the worse you feel. All we have is the present. Just let your higher power work through you. He's inside of you. Your higher power…  

Merk: So, reflecting on this album and this past decade, since it's your last year in your twenties, what are you most proud of? 

JoJo: I'm proud that I'm still soft. I'm not hardened. I'm actually a better student than I was in the beginning of this decade. My capacity to learn and grow and stretch and evolve and be like water and kind of take different shapes and go with the flow, but still maintain my integrity, that's what I'm most proud of.

Nyge: Okay, final quick question. And this is for everyone. What was your favorite kid's snack or drink that is no longer around now? 

JoJo: Oh, okay. I don't know if these are around, because I haven't looked for them, but Dunkaroos. Are those still around? 

Merk: Oh my God! JoJo, that was my snack! She took my snack! You took my snack! 

JoJo: But I like the one with the vanilla frosting. Did it have like sprinkles in it or something?

Merk: Yes!

JoJo: That was mine. I didn't like the chocolate one. 

Nyge: Am I lame? I don't know what Dunkaroos are. 

JoJo: Ooohhh!

Merk: Dude, you have not lived.

Nyge: I know. I’m a square.

Merk: We have to go to another warehouse to find some Dunkaroos for you.

Nyge: Feel like I’m real lame right now. Oh wait. I just looked it up. I think I seen those. I don't remember those like that, though. 

JoJo: I could go for some right now. 

Merk: What’s your snack?

Nyge: Imma go with the breakfast bars. You know where they had the like milk thing on like the bottom? 

Merk: Ohhh, the cereal ones?

JoJo: Yes! Yes!

Nyge: Yeah, the cereal bar things.

JoJo: I love the Honey Nut Cheerios one. 

Nyge: Yeah, those were fire. I think they had a Frosted Flakes … not Frosted Flakes … a Fruity Pebbles one.

JoJo: Oh, hell yeah. Yes they did. 

Nyge: That’s me. 

Merk: Oh, that one was bomb!

Nyge: Well, if you don't already follow JoJo, she's on IG and Twitter @iamjojo. Check out her site, where you can buy her music. 

Merk: And, of course, smash that play button on her album "good to know" on all the streaming platforms. With that, thank you so much JoJo! 

[Episode Break]

Nyge: Joining us right now is Dave Nadelberg. He's a writer, producer and the creator of "The Mortified Podcast," a storytelling show that is also a part of the Radiotopia family, and it’s for adult weirdos, just like us, who relive some of their most embarrassing stories.

Merk: He's also a total expert on nostalgia, because he has all the guests on his show reliving moments from their past that are obviously mortifying. So, Dave, welcome to the show! 

Dave: Thank you. Thank you for the weirdo welcome. 

Everybody: (laughs)

Merk: Always. 

Nyge: Great to have you here. So we're about to play a game that you created with Neil, who also produces the show, right? 

Dave: Yeah. So, "Mortified," the podcast ... Neil is the voice people mostly hear on the podcast. I'm sometimes on the podcast. But he and I came up with a game called "I Can't Believe I Did That," from the makers of "Mortified." And it is a game, kind of like Cards Against Humanity. You get prompts to, like, make your friends laugh, but here the prompts are all about sharing stories from your past. Even if you don't have a diary or even if you think you know your friends, like Merk and Nyge, you probably think you know each other, but by playing this game, you actually wind up learning way more about each other. 

Merk: So, it's like telling the stories that you don't already know about that person? 

Dave: Or even hearing the stories you do know, but you hear them in a different way.   

Nyge: Alright, let's jump into it.

Dave: Okay. 

Merk: Yeah. We’ll play and you’re gonna… 

Dave: I'm going to play the dealer for these three rounds. And you guys, I guess, are going to answer questions about your childhood. But let's predict right now, which of you guys probably has a more ridiculous, surprising childhood between the two of you? 

Merk: Uh … Nyge.

Nyge: I think me. For sure.

Merk: He's just always telling stories all the time — on the show or off-mic. Nyge is story guy. I'm pun girl. 

Nyge: Yeah. 

Dave: Alright, pun girl.  

Merk: But we'll see. We'll see. I mean, I could win because I'm a winner! 

Nyge: Sure, we’ll see.

Dave: Well, it's good that you said that you're a winner because the first card that I'm going to pull out is actually ... The question is: “Tell me a moment,” both of you, “when you were overly competitive. Most aggressive kid wins.”

Nyge: Go ahead.

Merk: I got to take out this retainer.  

Nyge: Oh my gosh.

Merk: I forgot that it was in.  

Nyge: Oh my goodness.

Merk: And I can’t winnith...

Nyge: I can’t winnith?

Dave: Everyone at home needs to know that we are conducting this interview via Zoom. We are all witnessing a retainer come out of Merk's mouth. And it’s… 

Nyge: Spit-locked and all.

Dave: This is how you get into the teenage mindset.

Merk: Exactly. So when I was in the fifth grade, I loved to tackle guys on the playground. Just boom, into the wood chips. And there was this guy named Spencer, who I think I was going out with. 

Nyge: "I think I was going out with?"

Merk: It was so long ago! But he's standing there and I'm like, "Hey, Spencer!” And then I just run, run, run and BOOM, tackle him. Then, when we go back inside the classroom, [the class] is taking a test. We just hear sniffling from Spencer's corner because he was crying. What I didn't know was he already had bruised ribs or something, so I hurt him even worse. And I don't think I said sorry.

Dave: Did that remain your tactic?

Merk: Throughout my life of courting suitors?

Nyge: That’s your move?

Merk: You know ... it was for a while, I will admit. 

Everyone: (laughs)

Merk: Samuel [my boyfriend] I have not tackled. Yet...

Nyge: Yet … So my story ... I got two, but... 

Dave: That’s very competitive of you, that you have two.  

Merk: Wow. 

Nyge: Yeah, see. I'll go with kind of a more recent one. So I was on the football team in high school, but after school, like every day, we would all go down to the football field and we would play tackle football with no pads. It was this one dude named Alex. He was out there with us and he was like playing wide receiver and I'm playing safety. So like, as a safety, I'm always looking for the big hits. Like, you want the highlight hit of the game! So he goes deep for this Hail Mary pass and he's running and staring at the ball the whole time. Didn't look at me, not once. And then I'm running at full speed at him. He didn't even see me come in and then right when the ball was about to touch ... It like graced his fingertips, and then BOOM! I hit him as hard as I could. And we slid at least, like, five to ten yards and he was like, "Bro, I can't move." And I was like, “Yo, what?" He was like "Yeah, my chest." I ended up breaking his collarbone and, like, two of his ribs. 

Dave: How did you feel about that when you found out that result?

Nyge: I felt bad. I was like, "Dang," because Alex didn't even play football! And I was like, "Wow." He was like all casted and bandaged up and, like, full sling. I was like, "Oh my gosh." Every time I saw him, I was like, "Dang. Man." 

Dave: So that's the end of that round. And in terms of who is the most aggressive, I think, in some ways, I'm tempted to say that Nyge did the most damage, but I'm going to give it to Merk. I think it's more competitive. Like, you [Nyge] were playing a sport, so that's partially expected. I mean, "partially." But she went above and beyond the call of duty in the name of love. 

Nyge: There was no reason to push him or tackle him!

Dave: I'm more terrified of Merk I think in that scenario. So I'm going to give it to ... the card goes to Merk.

Merk: I will add to that. In elementary school I used to go up to guys and have my hand raised at their face and they would flinch and I would just laugh. 

Nyge: See? 

Merk: It was so bad.

Dave: Wow. You were just known as like… 

Nyge: Just a bully. 

Merk: Only to guys, though. Man, not super proud of that.

Dave: Wow.

Merk: Anyway...

Dave: Alright, so the next card. Let's see if Nyge can come back. The next card is: “A moment when you were totally mortified.” Podcast plug! “Most embarrassing kid wins.” 

Nyge: I can go first for this one. In like this sixth grade or whatever, there was this girl who, like, I really wanted to talk to. Like, since like the fourth grade. I just never got the right time. And then I was her biology partner. So I was like, "Okay, perfect. I'm about to go crazy." So I'm sitting next to her and I'm getting these jokes off, right. And she's dying laughing at everything I'm saying! Like, I'm going back to back to back, joke for joke for joke, and she's weak. And then she even calls like her girls over. She's like, "Yo, come over here." And then they all start dying laughing at everything I'm saying. I'm killing it. Then my boy Raymond is coming over. He's like, "Bro, let's step outside." I'm like, "Bro, stop hating. I'm getting these jokes off." And then he was like, "Bro, let's step outside." I’m like, "Bro, no!" He's like, "Step outside, bro!" And then I stepped outside and I ended up having the toilet seat cover from when I used the bathroom still stuck in my pants. That's the real reason everybody was laughing. 

Dave: Slick.

Nyge: And yeah.

Dave: That’s amazing.

Merk: Alright. So in also fifth grade, I went to my aunt's house for Thanksgiving. And mind you, I had a big wart on my upper lip the entire school year. I had finally gone to the doctor to get it removed or, like, frozen, so it was still on my face, but it was very noticeable. And so I'm sitting with my aunt, we're eating. And then she goes, "Oh, you have something on your face." I'm like, "Oh, what?" Not thinking about anything. And she gets her thumb and tries to scratch it off. And when it doesn't come off, she just gives me the "ew" look. And she turns and walks away.

Nyge: I thought you were gonna say like the wart fell off in your food or something like that. That's what I was bracing for. 

Merk: That would have been a relief. No, it's definitely...

Dave: That would've been the most disgusting kid wins.

Everybody: (laughs)

Dave: But for this, it’s the most embarrassing. So I think Nyge, I think you take the cake for that.

Nyge: Ayeee! We back in this.

Dave: You’re back.

Merk: Yeah, okay. 

Dave: So now we're tied. And now this is to determine who has the most memorable childhood stories. So the next card is our final card. And it says: "Tell me a moment when your heart broke like it was the end of ‘Titanic.’ Biggest sad sack wins."

Merk: Okay. I'll pull a Rose on this one. Actually, no, I'm Jack in this situation. So in eighth grade history class, I was going to reveal to my crush, named Ciaran, that I really liked him. So Ciaran and I were sitting next to each other and we had finished taking a quiz because we were some of the smart kids in class. Then I wrote "_____ + _____ = heart," and I showed it to him. And he's like, "Oh, okay." So he writes the same thing on his paper. I wrote my name on one line and he writes his name on the other on separate pieces of paper. So I signaled to him, like, "Hey, why don't you go first?" Because I was SO confident he was going to put my name in the blank next to his. Little did I know, he did not like me. He liked another person. So, yeah. The Ciaran ship sank.

Dave: Oh… So when did your heart break?

Nyge: My sad sack story is I had this bird named Nelly, and Nelly was the freaking best. Like, I would always roll around with Nelly like on my shoulder or on my head or in my shirt pocket or whatever. And I actually picked her out, because I went to the bird store and it was one bird that kind of chirped like, "Ahhh." Like [in Nelly’s song “Dilemma”] "No matter what I do. Ahhh! All I think about is you." So, yes, that's why I named her Nelly. And Nelly was my best friend. One day, I was about to leave the house and she was at the bottom of a cage. So I picked her up and put her back on the perch or whatever, and then I went out. But it was bothering me. So I came back home and the cage was open, my window was open and Nelly was gone. And I was like, "Dad, what happened to Nelly?!" He was all like, "Some of your cousins came by and, someone must've left the cage open and yada, yada, yada." But, deep in my heart, I knew Nelly was dead. I asked him actually, like, recently about it. He was like, "Yeah, Nelly died." Yeah, so I have like a little memorial for her on my wall and everything, but yeah. I miss you. Miss you, Nelly. 

Merk: Ahhh!

Dave: So when you hear a Nelly song today, do you wind up thinking about your friend Nelly?

Nyge: I actually don't up to this point, but now, since I had to recount that story to all of you, now it'll probably forever be on my mind. Like, "No matter what I do. Ahhh!"

Dave: It’s very possible that Nelly did record that with a bird. We don’t know.

Nyge: That’s probably where the inspiration came from.

Dave: So I think in reviewing your three answers to the three cards, I would say the winner of the debut Adult ISH cup, featuring the game "I Can't Believe I Did That" from the makers of "Mortified," is… 

Merk: Drum roll. 

Dave: Without question the biggest sad sack who won that round is Nyge. 

Nyge: Ayeee!

Dave: I don't even know if it's sad sack, but it's just, like, how could you not reward Nelly? I think it's Nelly who's the winner. 

Merk: Nyge, you’re the surrogate winner.

Nyge: Shoutouts to my girl Nelly. Well, it looks like ya boy won.

Merk: Booo!

Dave: You feeling good about that?

Nyge: It was really fun, though. I don't feel that good. I like won, but, like, dang. After this is over...

Merk: You’re reliving your childhood sadness.

Nyge: Nah, this was really fun. I feel like I learned more about Merk too. Like more and more about how Merk is just secretly a bully just in retirement.

Merk: Anyway… 

Nyge: Thanks for giving us a sneak peak of the game, Dave. 

Dave: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Merk: Y'all can get the "I Can't Believe I Did That Game" now by going to The game comes out on September 29, but it is available right now for pre order, so do that. Check it out. You can follow Dave on Twitter @davenadelberg, and, of course, listen to "Mortified" wherever you get your podcasts. 

[Music Break]

Nyge: Thanks for being with us for another season of Adult ISH, produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation.

Merk: As always, thanks to our Senior Producer Davey Kim, sound engineers Cari Campbell and Galnadgee Joe-Johnson, Executive Producer Rebecca Martin, our PAs Adan Barerra and Ajani Cedillo-Torres, all the young people at YR who made the show’s music and art throughout the season.

Nyge: Yeah, you can check some of that out on our site AND follow us on all the socials @YRadultISH.

Merk: And send us your ideas for guests/segments/or stories you wanna hear! Whether it be in the DMs or an email to We wanna make sure your Adult ISH journey gets even better and this summer, we’ll be pumpin’ out Season 4, which drops in the fall. So yeah, hit us up.

Nyge: And don’t forget to rate and review our show with 5 stars on Apple Podcasts! It takes only like 5 seconds and it does actually help us out a ton when you do it so thank you!

Merk: We’re also proud to be members of Radiotopia by PRX. An independent listener-supported collective of some of the most far out shows in all of podcasting. Find them at

Nyge: We hope y’all don’t miss us too much but if you do, you can follow Merk @ultraraduberfad on IG or follow me on Twitter @nygelt.

Merk: Before we go, we just wanted to share some personal notes for all of you. Gonna have my bro-host take the lead.

Nyge: Alright so since I feel bad for yelling at y’all like that I think it’s time I get all warm and fuzzy with y’all. I just want to say that the world that we are growing up in today is rough. Growing up is hard anyway but the level of stress that is put on us today with worldwide pandemics, police brutality, racism. This stuff is difficult. But no matter what  age you are out there listening to this, I want to say give yourself a pat on the back. Everyday we’re waking up and getting out of bed. We are facing some serious history textbook level issues, but we are still finding a way through it all. So thank you so much for listening to our show and I hope we taught you a few things because trust me y’all have taught us more. Now, your turn, Merk.

Merk: Well, since I started this season with a breakup letter, I thought it made sense to end with one too. Or like a shorter version of one. So … Dear listener, we’re not breaking up with you but this is a breakup note because we are leaving you yet again. And let’s be real, you’re leaving us too. (laughs) Two seasons ago we didn’t know all that much: about adulting, about you, or even about each other but you kept listening and reminding us that there is so much ish to explore and more importantly, that you relate to it in some way. And even though we say it all the time that we’re in this fight together but apart, it’s true! Even though we don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing when this episode ends or all the ish you have to deal with in your own life, we want you to know we appreciate you, we thank you and we’re truly here for you. And I’m really glad I got through that without crying. (laughs) I was close though.

Nyge: (laughs) I was finna say! You cried when you wrote it though so don’t front to the listeners. 

Merk: It’s true, I did.

Nyge: With that said though, we’re gonna catch y’all next season. See ya.

Merk: Yup, talk to you later!

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