Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell three outlandish stories about supply and demand.

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Mo Rocca, Faith Salie and Charlie Pierce. And, here again is your host, at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, Peter Sagal.



Thank you. Thank you, Carl. Thank you everybody. Right now, it is time to play 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!

CODY TRESSELT-WARREN: Hi, this is Cody, from Minneapolis.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Minneapolis?


TRESSELT-WARREN: Just wonderful.

SAGAL: I'm glad to hear it. What do you do there?

TRESSELT-WARREN: I'm a tax accountant.

SAGAL: Really?


SAGAL: Tell me something - because everybody thinks it's the stereotype that accountants, especially tax accountants are dull - tell me something fascinating about your work.

TRESSELT-WARREN: Code section 48B is really great.



SAGAL: My heart raced just hearing you say it. Welcome to the show, Cody. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Cody's topic?

KASELL: Help. I've run out of avuncular things to say.


SAGAL: We expect certain kinds of shortages: reservations to the hot new restaurant, the must-have toy at Christmas, good jokes on this show. But there are some things you just never expect to run out of. Our panelists are each going to tell you a story about a shockingly unexpected shortage. Guess the true story; you'll win Carl's unceasingly avuncular voice on your home voicemail. Ready to play?


SAGAL: Let's hear from Mo Rocca first off.

MO ROCCA: There's a sucker born every minute, except in Albania. After a 1997 pyramid scheme brought down the economy, the government set about making citizens more skeptical. Quote, "it was an urgent situation that called for radical de-globalization among Albanians," said education minister Tony Dovaloni. Everyday Albanians were taught to read fine print, not play three-card Monty on Toronto's famed boardwalk, and to instantly delete unsolicited emails from Nigeria.


ROCCA: Albania is now known as the "Show Me Balkan" state. But not all Albanians are happy. Birthday party magicians are out of work. Albanian children simply don't believe a woman could be sawed in half and survive.


ROCCA: And Albania's hit version of "Punk'd" was canceled when producers could find no one who fell for their hoaxes. Said host, Inver Belushi, quote, "it's no fun living in the least gullible country on earth."


SAGAL: There's a credulity shortage in Albania.


SAGAL: Too suspicious there now. Your next story of a demand meeting supply comes from Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: Some things in life are indestructibly ubiquitous, like cockroaches and D-list celebrities, right. Well, it turns out that in the wilds of Australia it's easier to find a Baldwin brother than a roach, much to the dismay of the producers of the reality show, "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here."

The show, which like vermin, somehow survives to skitter into production season after season, invites has-beens into the jungle to prove their mettle by doing such impressively stupid things as eating ostrich anus and rummaging through dung.


SALIE: A recent drought has created a scarcity of cockroaches to dump on the personalities, and producers are scurrying to get the 140,000 bugs they need. The problem is that these insects take four months to be bred, but the celebrities can't wait that long to reignite their careers in the most disgusting way possible.


SAGAL: A cockroach shortage...


SAGAL: ...striking a reality show in Australia. And your last story of an unexpected shortage comes from Mr. Charlie Pierce.

CHARLIE PIERCE: On December 16th, the Green Bay Packers will go down to Chicago and play the Bears...


PIERCE: a game that may decide the championship of the NFC Central Division and is, in any case, the league's greatest historical rivalry in both football and parking lot debauchery.


PIERCE: A crisis occurred this week, however, that seemed to threaten one of the Packers' most talismanic symbols in the run-up to the big game. There very nearly was a cheesehead shortage. The trademark wedge-shaped hats, beloved of Green Bay fans, are manufactured by a company located in St. Francis, Wisconsin.


PIERCE: Last week, due to a labor dispute that blew up in several trucking companies in South Carolina, whist the foam rubber comes to Wisconsin, there was a real possibility that the manufacturer would run out of raw cheesehead material within the next three weeks. That would put the supply of cheeseheads for the Bears game at risk. But when sober, Packer fans are nothing if not resourceful.


PIERCE: And when news of the potential cheesehead shortage hit the news, dozens of independent entrepreneurs sprang into action. People fashioned cheeseheads out of cheddar, Swiss, and even, yes, chevre. Vlad Flami of Ashland, like hundreds of other cheeseheads, bought a 25-pound wedge of gouda at one of the emergency cheese stand set up across the state, took out the old electric carving knife and made himself a hat.


PIERCE: "The biggest problem was to cut out the hole in which my head could fit," said Flami. Bernie Kilpatrick, who has gone to Packer games with Flami since 1971, was impressed by his old friend's ingenuity, but said that certain traveling adjustments might have to be made. "I'm not driving all the way down to Chicago in a car with the heater going and a guy wearing a giant piece of cheese on his head."



SAGAL: All right. Here are your choices. From Mo Rocca, in Albania there's such a shortage of credulous, easily fooled people that they can't do their version of "Punk'd" anymore. From Faith Salie, there aren't enough cockroaches to torment the has-been celebrities on "I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of Here." Or from Charlie Pierce, they're running out of cheeseheads here in Wisconsin, the actual heads, not the people.


SAGAL: Which of these is the real story of a surprising shortage in the week's news?

TRESSELT-WARREN: I'm going to go with C.

SAGAL: So you're going to go with C, that would be Charlie's story of cheeseheads.


SAGAL: Because there are not enough foam cheeseheads, people are making cheeseheads out of cheese.


SAGAL: I think you can tell the audience here does not approve of your choice.


SAGAL: But you are welcome to stick to it. They can't reach you. You're on the phone.


TRESSELT-WARREN: I'll switch to Faith's story.

SAGAL: You're switching to Faith's story, which they like.


ROCCA: What's wrong with my story?

SAGAL: And so, here you are, you are choosing then Faith's story of the shortage of cockroaches in Australia, which are troubling the reality show producers. Well, we spoke to somebody who is familiar with this particular tragedy.

NATALKA SZANCKS: There's been a drought for quite a while and they don't have enough cockroaches for the show.


SAGAL: That was Natalka Szancks, CEO of Zodiak USA, the creator and producer of "I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of Here," in Australia, talking about the cockroach shortage. Congratulations, Cody, you got it right.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Faith and you've won our prize. Carl will record his voice on your voicemail. Well done.

SALIE: Thanks, Cody.


SAGAL: Thanks for playing, and thank you, audience, for steering him straight.



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