There’s a program called Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! that airs on Saturday mornings on our local National Public Radio (NPR) station. The idea is that panelists and contestants are quizzed in humorous ways about that week’s news.

In one of the segments called “Bluff the Listener,” each panelist reads an unusual story, all sharing a common theme. Only one of the three stories is genuine but they all sound equally unbelievable. The contestant wins the prize if they select the authentic story.

“What the What?!” Party game on Kickstarter (Image source: Well Why Not Media)

The reason I mention this program here is that it immediately popped into my mind when I heard about the What the What?! Kickstarter party game. I must admit that I almost dropped the ball here because this Kickstarter has been running since 11 May 2021 and there are now only 10 days to go as I pen these words.

What the What?! is a 3-to-10-person card game where players compete to invent outrageous new uses for genuine “old-timey” inventions, many of which look like they were inspired by British cartoonist and illustrator William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) or his American counterpart Reuben Lucius Goldberg (1883-1970). (Robinson and Goldberg were both famous for creating illustrations of machines that were intended to perform relatively simple tasks, but whose implementations were incredibly complex such that they performed their tasks in exceedingly convoluted and indirect ways.)

Players can make up their own pitches or use one of the 300 supplied prompt cards, which were written in collaboration with comedians Casey Navarro and Dana Quercioli, both alumni from Chicago’s esteemed Second City Theater.

Although What the What?! Is positioned as a family game suitable for ages 10 and older, this is the sort of game I can easily envisage playing with a bunch of my engineering chums when we are all attending a technical conference together. It’s also something that would make a great gift for an engineer, inventor, or scientist who loves learning about other peoples’ weird and wonderful creations. What say you? Would you be interested in playing a hand of What the What?! (the loser buys the next round of beers)?