Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell three stories about an unexpected solution to an age-old problem.

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 this week with Mo Rocca, Paula Poundstone, and Tom Bodett. And here again is your host, at New York University's Skirball Center, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Carl Kasell. 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!

ASHLEE KNORR: Hi, this is Ashlee from Kamloops, British Columbia.

SAGAL: From where?

KNORR: Kamloops, British Columbia.


SAGAL: Kamloops.


SAGAL: What kind of place is Kamloops?

KNORR: It is the sunniest city in all of Canada.

MO ROCCA: The sunniest.

SAGAL: Low bar there, my friend.

KNORR: Yeah.


SAGAL: Hello, Canada.




SAGAL: What are you - you're all so nice no matter what we do.


SAGAL: What do you do in Kamloops?

KNORR: I'm a university student right now.

SAGAL: I see. And what are you studying?

KNORR: Business.

SAGAL: Oh, I see.

POUNDSTONE: Did she say goodness?


SAGAL: Being Canadian, I wouldn't put it by her.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, that's perfect for Canada.

SAGAL: Yeah, I know.

POUNDSTONE: I just thought they made ginger ale.


SAGAL: Well, the goodness industry is burgeoning in Canada. Ashlee, welcome to the show. Your job, of course, is going to try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Ashlee's topic?

KASELL: Eureka!


SAGAL: It turns out sometimes the solution you were looking for is right in front of you. This week, we read about an unexpected solution to an age-old dilemma. Guess which panelist is describing the real recently discovered solution, and Carl will solve your voicemail needs. You ready to play, Ashlee?

KNORR: I sure am.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: Tom Griffith loved to play cheesy country music at his backyard parties to torture his friends, and it doesn't get any more painful than the '70s country trucker hit by C.W. McCall, "Convoy." Mercy sakes alive, it looks like we got us a convoy.


BODETT: Well, at one particularly buggy barbecue last summer, Griffith and his guests noticed that for the few minutes of rubber duck breaker one-ninering, the swarms of mosquitoes disappeared. The song ended. They came back. It started, they left. The group suffered through multiple replays while discussing their discovery, and Griffith was given the email address of Dan Filler who worked with Gates Foundation's Malaria Program in Africa.


BODETT: Filler, who later said he'd rather pull a two-foot guinea worm from his own leg rather than do this again, tried it on a village boom box. It worked. The mosquitoes fled, then the dogs, the livestock, the women and children.


BODETT: And finally, even the hardy men could take no more. It's the nails on chalkboard of American music, speculated Filler. It might help to eradicate a deadly disease but at the cost of a proud people's dignity? I think not.



SAGAL: The song "Convoy" by C.W. McCall found to drive away mosquitoes. Your next tale of an easy fix to a difficult problem comes from Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: At a time in the world where communication could be so lacking in civility, behavioral science researchers have made a breakthrough that can affect every kind of human relationship, and its simplicity is almost poetic. Researchers have found that the brain responds positively to the sight of oversized red lips, big red lips, think clown.


POUNDSTONE: Through an online survey, we found plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest this, says graduate student, Georgia Trester. Through imaging in the lab, we were able to also see clearly that when the brain sees someone wearing big, huge red lips beyond the lip line, it releases the L-Dopa enzyme, and the subject responds with kindness and honesty. Think what this could do in Congress.


POUNDSTONE: One of the most striking stories submitted online was that of a young marine recruit who fell in one morning on the yard to face a previously abusive drill instructor while wearing his big, huge red lipstick, and to his surprise, the DI said: Good morning, guys, we've got a lot of difficult training to do today, so I want to thank you for your willingness, and if you're ready, let's get started.


POUNDSTONE: A mother claimed that she wore a large quantity of red lipstick while picking her teenage son up at high school, and he said: Hi, mom, how are you?


POUNDSTONE: The prospects for the Middle East are thrilling.


SAGAL: Clown lips, all you need to make people polite. Your last story of a botheration of finally beaten comes for Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: We all know that Tylenol relieves pain in your head. Now comes word that it eliminates painful thoughts inside your head.


ROCCA: A study published in the Journal of Psychological Science found that Tylenol reduces existential angst.


ROCCA: Quote, "We are surprised that a drug meant primarily to alleviate headaches prevents people from being bothered by thinking about death," said researcher Daniel Randalls. Imagine if Paris' left bank cafes had offered Tylenol. Camou stranger would have been Camou's BFF.


ROCCA: Jean Paul Sartre's "No Exit" might've been re-titled Jean Paul Sartre's "Stay A While."


ROCCA: And if Shakespeare had popped a couple Tylenol, Hamlet's "Soliloquy" would've gone something like this: To be or not to be, that is the question. The answer: To be.



SAGAL: All right. So you've got problems, we have answers, at least one of them. Is the true story from Tom Bodett, the discovery that the song "Convoy" - popular in the early '70s - drives away mosquitoes?


SAGAL: From Paula Poundstone, putting on big red clown lips, all of a sudden, makes people nice, or from Mo Rocca that Tylenol can cure existential dread, the knowledge that you and everything you know will someday come to an end.

KNORR: I'm going to have to go with the Tylenol from Mo.

SAGAL: Really? Why?


KNORR: It seems more likely than the other two.


SAGAL: So you're going to go with Mo's story. Well, we spoke with someone authoritative who commented on this story.

CHRISTINE KORSGAARD: The study suggests that Tylenol can reduce the pain of existential anxiety. You could also rid yourself of it altogether by knocking yourself out completely.


SAGAL: Yes. That was Professor Christine Korsgaard of Harvard University. She is the nation's foremost authority on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. And thanks to Tylenol, we'll soon be out of a job.


SAGAL: Congratulations, Ashlee. You got it right. You earned a point from Mo Rocca, and you've won our prize, Carl Kasell will record a greeting on your home answering machine. Thank you so much for playing with us today.

KNORR: Thanks so much.


SAGAL: Bye-bye.


C.W. MCCALL: (Singing) Come on, join our convoy, ain't nothing gonna get in our way, we're going to move this trucking convoy across the U.S. Convoy.

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