Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Bluff The Listener

Our panelists tell us three stories of reaching unexpected audiences.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

CARL KASELL, Host:

From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Mo Rocca, Luke Burbank and Faith Salie. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, Host:

Thank you, Carl.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thank you so much. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

OMAR GOBBY: Hey, hi, how are you? This is Omar from Evergreen Park, Illinois.

SAGAL: Oh, Evergreen Park, that's near here in Chicago. What do you do there?

GOBBY: I actually work as a medical interpreter.

SAGAL: A medical interpreter?

GOBBY: Yes, sir.

SAGAL: So, somebody, the doctor comes out and just speaks medical gibberish and you turn to the guy and you go yeah, you're going to die.

MO ROCCA: You're dying.

GOBBY: Well, not true.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GOBBY: I actually speak Polish and I deal with the Polish patients that come into our facility and help them get what they need.

SAGAL: Well Omar, welcome to the show. You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what's Omar's topic?

KASELL: You're not the audience we had in mind.

SAGAL: Sometimes it happens, you know you put something out there in the world and you think you know who's going to go for it. It turns out, you're wrong. This week, our panelists are going to read you three stories of things becoming wildly popular in an unexpected way. Choose the true story; you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine. You ready to go?

GOBBY: I am.

SAGAL: All right, Omar. First, let's hear from Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: The Florida prison system is flooded with pacifiers. Not folks who are trained to mediate prisoner tensions. No, we're talking the kind of pacifiers that you put in a baby's mouth. The newest weapon in Florida's campaign to stamp out smoking in prisons is shaped like a nipple, and it's wildly popular.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SALIE: Prison officials began distributing pacifiers when they ran out of nicotine patches. Inmates immediately latched on.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SALIE: Some sporting up to seven at a time around their necks and many using pacifiers as chips in their poker games. Not only have smoking rates plummeted, so has violence among the soothed prisoners, according to Seth Bernstein, head of Tallahassee Correctional Centers. In fact, he says, "One of our most violent gangs has just renamed itself the Binky Boys."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SALIE: And prison guards report that the nights are much quieter, just a lot of sucking noises.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SALIE: The resident dealer at Apalachicola Jail is inmate Tim Emmons, known as "Big Poppa Passy." Passy admits, "I used to have guys trading me six Playboys for a pack of smokes. But now they all want the Purple Butterfly Comfort Soother by Playtex.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SALIE: "Don't get me wrong," says Poppa Passy Emmons, "prison still sucks, but now so do I."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Pacifiers in prisons in Florida.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Your next story of someone reaching a new audience comes from Luke Burbank.

LUKE BURBANK: When the Hub TV network launched it's reboot of the My Little Pony's TV franchise, My Little Pony's "Friendship is Magic," they hoped that by adding slightly more complex plots and jokes they might be able to snag a slightly older audience, like say, four year olds.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: So imagine their surprise when the show became a huge hit with unemployed adult men in their 20s and 30s who call themselves bronies.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: Bronies like 32-year-old Luke Allen of Albuquerque wile away their days posting fan videos on YouTube, trading ponies. "I'll give you a gently used Twilight Sparkle for that mint condition "Flutter Shy."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: And likely setting off internet alarms everywhere by cruising My Little Pony chat rooms for the latest gossip.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: They say they love the show for its excellent animation and subtle references to that other hallmark of high school celibacy, "Dungeons and Dragons."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: For their part, the show's creators say they're pleasantly creeped out - flattered, by all the attention.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Bronies, men who like My Little Ponies, a little kid's TV show. Your last story of expanding demographics comes from Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: When grills, the shiny gold and silver platings fitted over teeth, first appeared in the 80s, they were strictly hip hop. Flava Flav and Big Daddy Kane were among the first wearers. But in Marblehead, Massachusetts, they're less hip hop than grandpop. At the Gracie Allen Assisted Living Center, too many residents were wandering off the property. So the Allen Center installed metal detectors at all the exits and grills in the mouths of all the residents.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Quote, "I'm okay with my grandmother looking gangster as long as she's safe," said one concerned relative.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: The grills can fit over dentures or replace them altogether. Eighty- two-year-old Wanda Jackson, nicknamed by staff "Lil' Wanda"...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Had her grills inlaid with the pearl earrings her husband gave her fifty years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Quote, "I thought they were awfully strange at first, but then I started listening to Flo Rida and Wiz Khalifa and now I love my grills. And by the way, happy birthday Tupac. Keep your head up; I know you're still out there."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: All right. One of these stories is true. Is it from Faith? Pacifiers for babies are being used by grown men in a prison in Florida. From Luke: bronies, men who like the My Little Ponies TV show? Or from Mo Rocca: old people in a home, sporting grills for their own safety and to let them flash some bling? Which of these is the real story of something that didn't quite reach its intended audience in this week's news?

ROCCA: What do you want to be real?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GOBBY: As much as I would love Mo to be right, I will have to go with Luke. I know enough weird people who would watch something like that.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So you're going to go with Luke? You're going to go with Luke's story.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: It was bronies, the subculture of younger men who really like the kid's TV show My Little Ponies.

GOBBY: Yes, sir.

SAGAL: All right. Well, we actually spoke to one of these people who has one of these unusual enthusiasms.

SHAUN SCOTELLARO: My Little Pony, it's not really just about the cartoons.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SCOTELLARO: They have these really well animated characters with great personalities and everything.

SAGAL: That was Shaun Scotellaro, a bronie and the creator of the bronie blog "Equestria Daily."

GOBBY: I'm sure it's out of his mom's basement.

SAGAL: It really is.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Congratulations, Omar, you got it right.

GOBBY: Thank you.

SAGAL: You've earned a point for Luke.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Thanks so much for playing with us today.

GOBBY: Thanks a lot.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

GOBBY: Bye-bye.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!