Thursday, August 11, 2005, my cousins and I went to Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. As we’re going again in two weeks, I thought I’d better recap this trip, since my notes have been in my bag for almost a year, holy fuck!
First and foremost, the first show we saw a year ago (May 26th 2005) was better. Maybe it was because it was the first time, or maybe because the next day was my birthday. Either way, the show was hysterical, there was bagging on Tom Cruise and it was good. When we heard it on the radio a couple days later, it was still fantastically funny.
This show was funny to watch, but not to listen too the following weekend. The problem was that the humor was mostly wrapped up in things that either couldn’t be aired either for length or for content. The humor was being there with Cousins and Ipstenit, and laughing at shared experiences.
We got in early enough to get seats togeather, but not ones way up front. Part of that was becyase we’d stepped out for a bite to eat between work (me) and the trip over (them). And I got us lost. Twice. I think. It’s been a while. We were in Row K (yes, I wrote that down).
On the stage was a weird globe, that I said looked like something from Casino Royale (the James Bond farce/pop movie), but CuzDan said it was an omni-drectional mic, and he commented on how times had changed and so had technology. It does that.
Behind us were a pair of New York idiot blondes, that were talking on and on, and I started writing down what they said (thinking of Overheard in New York I guess):
Girl #1: I have these bumps on my legs.
Girl #2: Like from shaving?
Girl #1: Yeah, but on both legs.
Girl #3: You should go to a doctor.
Girl #1: Maybe I have scabies.
Which begged the question: You normally only shave one leg? But I didn’t ask it. Instead, I watched this guy who looked like Agent Elrond, Queen of the Desert, but turned out just to be a guy. Darn it. I stoped watching him when Girl #3 behind me blurted out with “You need to use the sticky stuff, or you’ll lose it.” And there was the moment I decided not to listen to them anymore.
The show started and the globe turned out not to be a mic, but a disco ball. In a style like ‘Your Chicago Bulls!’ announcements, the called out the hosts and panelists. Peter and Adam even did chest bumps and I roared. Karl ran out like the coach, slapping everyone’s hands.
We did have a couple of firsts. Tom Boddet was there as his first time as a panelist, and Terri Gross was there for her first Not My Job. Sadly, we didn’t get to meet Terri Gross. Darn it.
Peter gave a slightly different patter about what we were doing (tape delay and such). When Karl told us all to turn off our phones, Roxanne scrambled to turn off hers. Apparently it rang last week. Peter told the same joke about the guy at the play who’s phone went off, and he said “I’m at a play. … Eh, it’s okay.”
This time, there were no video cameras.
The first contestant investigated noise pollution for a living. There was a bad connection, and Adam cracked “A little noise pollution.” They reconnected, and Peter said he was going to make the same intro joke, and we didn’t have to laugh. We did. Louder than the first time. Tom joked that we obviously liked it better the second time, which ruined the fact that it was a retake and we had to do it a third time.
Peter used a lot more hand motions as he talked, and flubbed up a joke about Peter Jennings in the boduir. Roxanne revealed she likes Gary Larsen. The second contestant was for bluff the listener. It was rote.
Then we got Terri Gross for Not My Job. She was fantastic. She told dirty jokes about sex and talked about Gene Simmons, who told her “If you want to welcome me with open arms, you’ll have to welcome me with open legs.” That line got cut, you can bet on it.
We also learned her first radio bit was about Wonderful Surprise Cereal. Never heard of it. Somehow we ended up with a string of condom jokes, started by Terri who suggested NPR condoms be a gift during the pledge drive. They finally got ribald enough that Peter and Karl blushed. Roxanne joked that Terri’s condom slogan would be ‘Terri Gross: To be well prepared.’
Terry ended up getting two out of three right.
After Adam answered a question about Google vs. C*net, everyone talked about what they last Googled. Roxanne said her least noble Google search had been when she was interviewing someone, and learned they’d been married before and never told her current husband. Tom had Googled about why we don’t eat rocks, for his son. His son was two and a half. Tom’s final answer to his son was, however “because they’re icky!” Roxanne noted that’s why we don’t eat marbles either, and her little brother did just that and she had to help her mom about it. Roxanne’s advise was for Tom to tell his son “Tell him his sister will beat him up!”
The Listener Limerick Challenge was … fantastically terrible. First the girl was a law student at Cambridge, and had just taken the Bar. She was waiting for November to find her results, and if the show was any indication, she was an idiot or our legal system is fucked. Peter had to all but spoon feed the answers to her, and the ditzy girls behind us got the limericks first. Ipstenit told me ‘It makes Baby Jesus cry.”
I swear that Peter was beside himself with her stupidity. We all had to take a long moment after she was done. It was great to listen to, but not being able to hear it all on the air lost a lot of the oomph. They had to cut down 35 minutes to 5. It was hard.
With the three way tie in points, they did the old ‘pick a number’ game to see who went first for Lightning fill in the blank. Adam and Roxanne tied for the win, poor Tom.
The big change was the move of the Q&A to after the re-dos, and they explained a lot better what they were doing and why.
Peter did have to answer one question before that, which was “Do you ever have to apologize for teasing the listeners too much?” He said that the producers yelled at him sometimes, and had that day for the listener limerick challenge. Frankly, I don’t think she even noticed.
Peter had to redo quite a lot of segments. Some of them were because he got phraseology wrong, and others because he yelled too much and spiked the volume. He redid the intro to the limerick section, and since we know how fucked that was going to be, it was much funnier for all of us and we laughed more. He also had to redo Adam’s intro, to reference a new book which he’d forgotten.
Surprisingly, people didn’t ask the same questions as last time.
• Peter doesn’t know why the show is called Wait Wait.
• Karl said he doesn’t write the ansaphone messages.
• Karl refused to do a message that was essentially a Mary Kay commercial.
• Tom got asked about where he was from, because a viewer was from Vermont and had never heard of the town Tom claimed to be from. Tom said that wasn’t surprising, it was a small town.
• Panelists write their own bits for the Bluff the Listener challenge.
• Bribery will help you get on the show.
• Adam used to be Peter’s neighbor, when they lived in Brooklyn.
• Wait Wait does well in Pledge ‘week’ but they didn’t have the stats handy.
• Peter played D&D in college.
Two days later …
Listening to the show, I was surprised what made it in. They mixed up the order of segments and some panelist questions, but nothing huge. They did cut out a few questions, which screwed up the point schema, but they kept the scores as i saw them. In the end, the show didn’t report as a 3 way tie if you’d added up the scores on your own, but they just went ahead and kept it like that. I’d never noticed the miscounting before and now I wonder if it happens more often.
Terri Gross’ bit was largely intact (minus the condoms and the breakfast cereal bits). They kept in the Gene Simmons/Open Legs bits. It was a lot easier to understand her on the radio, which I felt was weird. They also didn’t edit out a lot of Terri’s stammering and repetition. I guess once you hack out all the puerile sex jokes, you have to fill airtime somehow.
None of the music was actually heard during the taping, so it threw me off when I heard it on the radio. Which was idiotic of me.
The Limerick Challenge was really hacked down. On air, she only missed the first question once, when in reality she’d made four mistakes before Peter took pity and explained how rhymes worked. The second answer, they edited out all her wrong answers, making both Peter’s excited ‘Yes! That’s right!’ cry very odd, and our laughter out of place. They also cut out the line where she said “It seems like I need a lot of help!” Yes, honey, you did.
The Lightning Fill In The Blank section had a few noticeable changes. Adam had made a dig about Cindy Sheehan, which was cut since Roxanne had a question about it. Roxanne’s rant about how she misunderstood the Segway question was cut out as well. Also, our ‘awwws’ about a recently deceased actor were cut. Damn you!
One other thing stood out at the end. Roxanne made a joke about ‘SUVs for everyone in Massachusetts!’ and it would have made more sense if they’d kept in the bit Adam said, about how men were more likely to support the war in Iraq if you questioned their masculinity. Not to mention Peter’s expanded bit from the Limericks, about how the listener was from MA (which allows gay marriages). It all worked well at the show, and not so much on air.
I hope the next time is better! And I’ll try to blog about it faster!