On Valentine’s Day, Swede and I and two friends went to a taping of NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. If you’ve never listened to this show, please stop reading right now and go listen to a podcast. I’ll wait.
<whistles the Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me theme song>
So, like I was about to say, and as you now know, it’s a terribly funny show. Everyone Needs a Julie got me hooked on it when I first moved to DC, and it quickly became the soundtrack of my Saturday mornings. These days I can never seem to catch the show when it’s actually on, because A) I don’t have a radio and always forget I can listen through my computer, and 2) I don’t have a radio…and forget that I can listen to it through the computer. Unless I’m in the car, where I DO have a radio. But I’m not usually in the car on Saturday mornings, but if I am, I am usually too busy yammering to listen—to myself or Swede, it doesn’t really matter—about the state of affairs of the world. Or pizza. Most likely pizza: When we will have it next, what kind we should get. I’m thinking pepperoni.
Back in January I snatched up tickets to the Valentine’s Day show of Wait, Wait, because nothing says, “Hey, sweet thang, let’s get our nerd love on” like an NPR-related present. Amirite?
I know I am.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, walking into the taping, but it certainly fulfilled any expectations I could have imagined and surprised me more than I thought it would. Like what kind of surprises, you ask?
1. Luke Burbank is handsome, Roxanne Roberts is stunning, and Peter Sagal is bald.
At least from far away. Though I’m pretty sure up close Peter Saga is still bald, and Roxanne is lovely. Luke Burbank is a toss-up.
See, having spent the lag time between work and show at a local pub, we arrived toward the end of the seating, and thus were relegated to the back of the theatre. Never fear, let’s keep in mind it’s a radio show, and seeing it all, even from a distance, works just fine. But speaking of seats…
2. The Chase Bank Auditorium? Not all that big.
It’s entirely possible that my high school auditorium was bigger. And walking into the auditorium I totally did a quick scan for nuns, but finding zero, I remembered where I was and immediately stopped feeling guilty for no apparent reason.*
*A little Catholic humor.**
**And a lie. I always feel guilty for no apparent reason. It’s my resting state, if you will.
3. The kitsch is magnificent.
If ever you’ve wanted a Carl Kasell throw pillow or doll, now’s your chance. You’re welcome, America.
4. They don’t record the show in order.
It sounds like a live show—with all the clapping and the hooting and laughing, and the segments all happening in the WWDTM order we’ve come to know and love—and it is…at Thursday night’s taping. But during our taping, the show started out like the show always does, with phone-in quizzes and pop questions for the panelists, but then there was a pause, and Peter Sagal talking into his earpiece, and the next thing you know, Al Gore is on the line, because he was that week’s Not My Job guest.
Which makes sense, if you think about it. It’s not like you can be all, “Hey, Mr. Former Vice President, can you please call at precisely 7:46 central time? No, you can’t call when it’s convenient with YOUR schedule. Who do you think you are? A former almost-leader of the free world? And we’ll need you to hold an open time slot for us until 8:17. Thankssomuch.”
At Thursday night’s taping, the show is a little all over the place. By Saturday morning’s airing, the show has been spliced (is that still a term? Edited, maybe?) together in the proper order.
5. There are re-tapes.
Like I said, it’s a live show. Kind of. But if you’ve ever listened, you may have noticed how smoothly all seems to flow, sans verbal flubs. (Well, verbal flubs that aren’t funny and add nothing to the humor of the show, that is.) There’sa reason for that. At the end of the show, the cast spends about ten minutes re-taping specific questions from the lighting fill-in-the-blank round, side comments from the panelists or hosts, or whatever else the production crew decides could sound better. We got even more bonus taping time, as our taping happened to fall the week before they were kicking off the spring pledge drive (grooooaaaaan), and they taped intros and outros (totally a word…spell checker didn’t even red line me, look at that!) to the segments they’d plug in for recaps. Yes, that’s right, Interwebers—you can listen for my hooting laughs not one, but two weeks in a row. Lucky, lucky listeners!
If you’ve ever in Chicago on a Thursday night, do try and get tickets to a taping. And if you can’t, suffice with the Saturday morning show (or whenever it’s on in your city), or the podcasts.
Your funny bone will thank you.