I had the incredible opportunity to attend the live taping of NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” Thursday night at Proctors in Schenectady. Granted, I paid for the ticket, but it was still amazing. I have been a fan of this show for about a year now – I don’t know how long WAMC (my local NPR affiliate) has been carrying it, but I’m glad it’s on their schedule now. If you’ve ever heard the show, you know it’s a hilarious send-up of current events – they call it “NPR’s oddly informative news quiz.” It’s that, and a lot more.
Having worked in radio, I was not awestruck by all the producers on stage, and all of the broadcast equipment – boring (to me). What I loved was:
- Watching the normally staid and businesslike Carl Kasell run around the stage at beginning of the show giving the panelists high-fives, and then watching him do celebrity impressions while never cracking a smile. Absolutely hilarious, considering Carl Kasell is the quintessential newsman, and has been the newscaster for Morning Edition since it began in 1979.
- The witty (and spontaneous) repartee among the panelists – Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell had a script, but the panelists (Mo Rocca, Amy Dickinson, and Charlie Pierce) did not.
- The incredibly talented people who write the show – it was obvious they were scribbling notes right up until showtime – the news they riffed on was that current.
- The audience Q & A after the show. Never missing an opportunity to grab a microphone in front of 2600 people, I raised my hand and asked the first question. Amy Dickinson said, “Ask us anything, as long as it’s not current events – we’re not good at that.” To which I answered, “Yeah, we know.” The audience howled. Peter Sagal then ripped the mic out of my hands. He gave it back, and I asked my question. I was in my glory. The next day, several of my friends called and emailed, mentioning that they heard me and my wise-ass remark. 🙂
If Wait, Wait ever comes to your town, I urge you to go. In the meantime, make sure you tune in – the show is one of the best things on radio today.