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Carl's Holiday Letters

Carl reads three holiday letters from this year's newsmakers, including a family with a son on Wall Street; a man who can't stop bragging, and an annoyed media baron.

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, and here's your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thank you everybody. Thank you, guys. Listen, listen, today's show, you might notice it's a little different. It's a special look back at 2011. We're doing it with our friends at BBC America. The big change? Well, our Not My Job guest is 100 percent more British than usual, it's author Neil Gaiman. He'll be with us later.

But, in addition, you will not be able to call in for this one; we're going to play with members of the audience here. And because it's a partially British show, whenever we say the word check, we'll be spelling it with a Q-U-E.

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SAGAL: All right, let's welcome our panel. First, say hello to a comedian and Last Comic Standing champion, Alonzo Bodden.

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ALONZO BODDEN: Thank you, sir.

SAGAL: Next, a comedienne and necktie model, Ms. Paula Poundstone.

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PAULA POUNDSTONE: Hey.

SAGAL: And joining us for the first time, the host of the quiz show "Breakaway," seen next year on BBC, Mr. Nick Hancock.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So, welcome everybody. We're going to start today with a game for the panel, a little something we're calling?

KASELL: Dear friends and family.

SAGAL: It's the season when folks send out holiday letters. And people in the news, well they like to bore their families like everybody else does. Carl here is going to read excerpts for you from three of their letters. Panelists, your job is to tell us who sent them. Alonzo, this first one is for you. Carl, unseal that envelope.

KASELL: Great news for the Berkowitz clan. Little Gary finally graduated from college and took a position on Wall Street. I guess he's working hard; he's even sleeping on Wall Street. I guess he doesn't like the food though, he keeps complaining about the pepper spray.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: That letter is from the parents of a young man, who, like many people, spent the fall doing what?

BODDEN: Occupying Wall Street.

SAGAL: Indeed, of course, occupying Wall Street.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Very good. Now, 2011 was the global year of protest it seemed. Here in the US, a nationwide movement changed the very meaning of the word "occupied." Now it means a populist seizure of the center of power, when once it just meant somebody was in the airplane bathroom.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Now, conservatives condemned the Occupy protests because they said they were messy. They don't clean up after themselves, so they're not legit. Because, you know, that's the hallmark of a successful populist protest, being tidy.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We all remember Martin Luther King saying I dream of a day when little black children will be able to join hands with little white children and put their toys away before the guests come over.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So, did you guys watch the protests? Did you watch it unfold?

BODDEN: Oh, absolutely. And it's funny you mention Martin Luther King because as black people, we were watching it saying, "Okay, what's the new part?"

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODDEN: What has changed here? When seeing white kids get hit by cops, we were actually - I mean they truly felt as black as they could at that moment.

SAGAL: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: But, you know, God bless them, and good luck with the pepper spray.

SAGAL: Right.

BODDEN: We had fire hoses.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: Not as spicy, a little more pressure.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: There was some films of the police taking the tents down, and talk about neat, when they couldn't find all the poles, there was a lot of frustration.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Really, you're out there, oh, I don't know how to work this.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, exactly.

SAGAL: You got to fold it up and put it away.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

SAGAL: The cops yelling "we won't be able to use it again."

POUNDSTONE: That's exactly right.

SAGAL: That's a problem.

POUNDSTONE: And they carefully folded them with the elastic thing.

SAGAL: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: I wonder how much of this REI has been behind.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

POUNDSTONE: You know? It's an ill wind that blows nothing, or something, you know.

SAGAL: I'm glad somebody...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Now, Nick, did you have Occupy protests in London?

NICK HANCOCK: Yeah, we had exactly the same thing in London, only with worse teeth.

SAGAL: Really?

HANCOCK: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I can't believe your first comment you're going for a bad tooth joke. Bless you.

HANCOCK: Why not?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Bless you, sir.

HANCOCK: Well, one of the things that I really enjoyed about the protests in London was just one interview, one of the big things that the students were worried about is graduate employment.

SAGAL: Right.

HANCOCK: You know, because there's so many graduates not getting work. And there was a great couple of graduates being interviewed on the news. And one of them was saying, "This is my friend Gary. My friend Gary got a first class honest degree. He has not worked for three years." And the news reader said, well, what was his degree in? And he went, "ghost stories."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HANCOCK: Yeah, that's going to happen, isn't it?

SAGAL: Yeah, I know. In a sane, civilized society there'd be full employment for ghost stories scholars.

HANCOCK: Ghost stories students.

SAGAL: Or something, yeah. Okay, Paula, Carl is going to open another holiday letter and this time it's for you.

KASELL: Another great year for our family, a lot better than Osama bin Laden's year, because I killed him.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KASELL: Malia and Sasha both made the honor roll, which is the "Killing Osama bin Laden" of elementary school.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KASELL: And Michelle helped Americans lose weight. You know who doesn't have to lose weight? Osama bin Laden.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So who might be bragging a bit about his one big accomplishment this year, Paula?

POUNDSTONE: I don't think it's his only big accomplishment, by the way, but our president.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: All right, that was right, President Obama.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: So it's got to be rough when the biggest thing you've accomplished over the year is shooting a guy in the face. Even Dick Cheney had his undisclosed location to fall back on.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: In public, the president hasn't himself bragged about his biggest success of 2011 too much. But we're guessing it comes up, you know, just around the White House. It's like, "Mr. President, the economy is in shambles." Well, can we send a Seal team in to shoot it in the head? That often works.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: I loved it when they threatened - like the hit against Obama - we're going to lower the nation's credit rating.

SAGAL: Right.

BODDEN: Do you really think you can scare a black man by lowering his credit rating?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

BODDEN: Do you really think we're not ready for that one?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: He did take it in stride.

BODDEN: We'll just apply for credit in Canada's name. It's how we work around that.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HANCOCK: I just think that the enduring image for me of last year is when they're all sat around the television watching Osama being shot, you know.

SAGAL: Yeah.

HANCOCK: And, you know, it's such a clear image, you can see it there. Hillary Clinton is there, they're all there. But every time I recall it, they've got pizza and beer.

SAGAL: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HANCOCK: And you sort of imagine that everybody who was there saying "are you doing anything tonight, because we're going to play the video again."

SAGAL: I know.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: I have to differ with you on saying that that was Obama's number one accomplishment in 2011.

SAGAL: Well what do you think is that?

BODDEN: I think his number one accomplishment was being the source and the reason behind creation of a new reality show we like to call the Republican Debates.

SAGAL: Yes, this is true.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

BODDEN: Without Barack Obama, we never would have met Herman Cain.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: And I say, right there.

SAGAL: All right, Nick, we have one last holiday letter and it's for you. Carl?

KASELL: It was a challenging year for our family. Rupert and James had to go to Parliament and answer rude questions from people we own.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KASELL: And don't bother to write back, we already know what you've been up to this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So what powerful family had to endure some public humiliation this year?

HANCOCK: Yeah, that's the Murdochs, of course.

SAGAL: The Murdochs, yes, very good, the Murdochs.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Rupert Murdoch is the most powerful press baron the world has ever seen. He had to testify in front of the British Parliament about the phone hacking scandal in his newspapers. It was a shock to see him there. For many people watching Rupert Murdoch on TV in Britain, it was the first time they had ever seen a dead body.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: How is this playing out in Britain? Because it seems like it's a huge thing.

HANCOCK: I have a different view on this. I actually feel a little sorry for the journalists. If you're a journalist and you have to listen to, say, 100 hours of Hugh Grant's phone messages.

SAGAL: Right.

HANCOCK: You know, it takes him a long time to finish a sentence at the best of times.

SAGAL: Right.

HANCOCK: He's quite a dull man. I think that's fine, fine journalism. The other thing that was really fascinating was that it turned out that they'd hacked the phones of 4,000 celebrities.

SAGAL: Right.

POUNDSTONE: Are there 4,000 celebrities?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HANCOCK: Well, naturally, that's the point. So there were people being righteously indignant, but also people going, "was I one of them"?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HANCOCK: Very, very upset if they weren't, you know.

POUNDSTONE: Nick, were you hacked?

HANCOCK: No.

POUNDSTONE: Oh geez, I'm sorry.

SAGAL: How did you feel about that?

HANCOCK: Fine.

SAGAL: Did you start having people leave more and more outrageous...

HANCOCK: Actually, I kept phoning Hugh Grant up.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And that is our holiday letter game. Thank you guys very much, you did well.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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