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Not My Job: We Ask 'Real Housewives' Producer Andy Cohen About House Flies

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Not My Job: We Ask 'Real Housewives' Producer Andy Cohen About House Flies

Not My Job: We Ask 'Real Housewives' Producer Andy Cohen About House Flies

Not My Job: We Ask 'Real Housewives' Producer Andy Cohen About House Flies

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/365599417/365938513" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Andy Cohen poses for a portrait on the set of his show, Watch What Happens Live, in New York.
Charles Sykes/AP
Andy Cohen poses for a portrait on the set of his show, Watch What Happens Live, in New York.
Charles Sykes/AP

Andy Cohen started out as a producer with CBS News, doing tough stories from tough places. But his secret dream was to choreograph elaborate cat fights between wealthy, underemployed women. He's the Bravo producer responsible for the Real Housewives franchise and host of Watch What Happens Live.

We've invited Cohen to play a game called "Bzzz ... bzzz ... bzzz." Three questions for the man behind Real Housewives about house flies.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where we take somebody who is fabulous and expose him to the opposite. It is called Not My Job. Any Cohen started out as a producer with CBS News doing tough stories from tough places, but his secret dream was to choreograph elaborate catfights between wealthy underemployed women. He is the Bravo TV producer responsible for the "Real Housewives" franchise and he is the host of the nightly live talk show on Bravo "Watch What Happens Live." Andy Cohen, welcome to WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.

ANDY COHEN: I am so happy to be here.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Oh, we're so happy to have you. So your new book, which was inspired by "The Andy Warhol Diaries," which you say inspired you to move to New York in the first place, is a diary of your year from the middle of 2013 to middle of this year. And it is such fun to read it. Can you tell the audience about a typical day in the life of Andy Cohen?

COHEN: Well, I guess a typical day in my life involves some sort of fitness. Perhaps it involves me sticking my foot in my mouth at some point in the day. It might involve a Seinfeldian, as I call it, occurrence, in the city in which I live, which is New York. And it ends with me hosting this kind of live cocktail party every night with kind of a mix between people that you might find on either the pages of The New Yorker or Us Weekly.

SAGAL: Yes, it's crazy. Now I don't know how many people who listen to NPR watch Bravo. And however many number there are, because this is NPR, a smaller number will admit it. So let's go over this.

O'ROURKE: Certain amount of lying.

SAGAL: So basically I'll tune in to Bravo of an evening and I'll probably see one of the many shows you've created - say "Real Housewives Of New Jersey" or Atlanta or Beverly Hills. And you invented these shows, right? This is your...

COHEN: I did. I was with a team of people at Bravo. And we are the proud proprietors of these fine shows that have replaced the soap opera basically, I think.

SAGAL: Yes.

COHEN: Yeah, I love sociology and I love human behavior. And we have plenty you can kind of sit at home and think, oh my God, I would never do that or I would or I think that's ridiculous.

SAGAL: So...

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Andy, I think it's a stretch to say that that's sociology.

SAGAL: Oh, no.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So I have to understand - describe to me 'cause I know in TV I know you have to pitch an idea, so describe to me the day you went in and you pitched to whoever's in charge of Bravo - said this is going to - I mean, what did you say?

COHEN: Well, what it was is there was a group of women that were brought to us by someone who lived in their neighborhood, which was the largest gated community in the country. And they were - their boobs were bigger, their hair was blonder, they communicated with their children in a way that I had never seen. And we said...

SAGAL: Wait a minute. How did they communicate with their children?

COHEN: It was inappropriate. It was all just inappropriate.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: What was the original franchise? Was it Beverly Hills?

COHEN: The original was Orange County.

SAGAL: Orange County, California and then Beverly Hills and Atlanta.

AMY DICKINSON: But then also, the women who are in these shows, a lot of them became breakout stars and then they get their own spin off shows.

COHEN: That's true.

DICKINSON: So it's sort of like spawn of Satan.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It does seem...

O'ROURKE: We mean that in a good way. Spawn of Satan in a good way.

COHEN: That's fine, you're all there in your theater judging me.

DICKINSON: Oh, no.

POUNDSTONE: I'm not judging you. I want a piece of this. What would you think about - what would you think about "Real Housecats of Santa Monica?"

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: Oh Paula, I'm coming after you. You're ready.

SAGAL: All right. So we heard a rumor - and I want to confirm this with you right now because I'm a project Chicagoan - that you wanted to do a Real Housewives of Chicago but you couldn't find anybody here crazy enough.

COHEN: Listen, there are nut bags all over the place.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah, 'cause I was going to say you didn't look hard enough, pal.

COHEN: I know. I mean, trust me, I'm on a book tour.

SAGAL: Yeah, you've seen him.

COHEN: I've seen everybody around the country. And I love - by the way, I love a nut bag. But yeah, we could find some.

SAGAL: One of my favorite characters in your book, I have to say, is your mother. Your father's great too. But you seem to have a wonderful relationship with your mother.

COHEN: I do. She and my doorman are my two favorite characters. They're kind of the moral compass of the book. My mother's favorite things is once every two months she calls me and begs me not to go on Bill Maher's show because she does not think that I am intellectually ready to go on Bill Maher's show...

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: ...Which is hilarious because Bill Maher is not asking me to go on his show. So it's a hypothetical fight and crisis that she's invented. She'll Skype me and she'll say, I beg you not to go on Bill Maher. You're not going to be able to do it. And...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I notice she didn't try to stop you from going on our show. I guess she thought you were...

COHEN: Actually she would be terrified if I told her that I was. She would be like...

POUNDSTONE: You are beyond intellectually ready to do this show.

SAGAL: I think so.

O'ROURKE: We're here to tell you.

SAGAL: So a lot of the stories are about "Watch What Happens Live," which is this nightly wrap-up live talk show. And you tell some - and you have all kinds of people, not only housewives from the housewives shows and other Bravo shows, but you also have big, legit celebrities from the rest of the world. And you tell this very amazing and great story of what happened when Lady Gaga came on.

COHEN: Right. Lady Gaga was on. She - backstage in her dressing room she came out after the show and she said listen, I peed in my trashcan. I hope you don't mind.

DICKINSON: Oh my God.

COHEN: And I said, oh, Lord OK. And then my little clubhouse where we do the show is full of pop culture artifacts, I would say. We've got Julie Andrews tea bag - used tea bag. We've got Lindsay Lohan's cigarette butt. And I said to my PA, put Lady Gaga's pee in some fancy bottle. And so my PA did this, which I couldn't believe. And then two days later he came to me and he said, listen, I have bad news. This urine of Lady Gaga's is going to get very toxic. And I said why because what's wrong with Lady Gaga that her urine would become toxic? He said no, no, no, it's not Lady Gaga. This is what happens, of course, to urine. He said, but I found a recipe online in which you can turn this into perfume. And this is how amazing my PAs are, by the way. And he said I'm going to try to do it. And I said, great. Do it. So we have this in a very fancy perfume snifter in the back. It's disgusting but I think it's cool.

SAGAL: I think so - I just want to know. So here's Lady Gaga and she says to you, Andy, I just want you to know I peed in your wastebasket. To which you said.

COHEN: Oh, let's save the pee as an artifact. Is that weird?

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

SAGAL: No, what it means to me Andy, is that you, unlike so many less fortunate people found your calling.

COHEN: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: Well, it also means that Lady Gaga isn't toilet trained.

(LAUGHTER)

DICKINSON: So weird.

SAGAL: Also...

(APPLAUSE)

POUNDSTONE: I mean, you don't - let me just say this. And I know NPR listeners don't need to hear this but just if there's somebody who's just like turning the dial that doesn't belong here, you don't pee in the trashcan.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: You just don't. I don't care what lady you are.

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Be sure to label it Andy, 'cause it looks just like tequila.

SAGAL: Yeah. All right Andy Cohen, we have asked you here to play game we're calling...

SAGAL: Buzz, You're The Man Behind Real Housewives But What Do You Know About Real Houseflies?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We're going to ask you three questions about Musca domestica, the housefly. Get two right, you'll win our prize from one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Andy Cohen playing for?

KURTIS: Donna Lynn Allen of Dubuque, Iowa.

SAGAL: All right. Ready to play Andy?

COHEN: Yes.

SAGAL: All right. Flies are very common, of course, but there's one way they're very unusual. Unlike almost all other common insects, flies A, can mimic human language; B, are immune to gravity; or C, can't learn anything.

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: I believe the answer would be C.

SAGAL: You are correct Andy.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

POUNDSTONE: Wow.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: It turns out you can train cockroaches, you can train ants, fleas, of course, there are circuses. You can't teach fly the thing.

POUNDSTONE: Wow.

SAGAL: Stupid flies.

COHEN: They are so dumb.

SAGAL: All right. Here are two more questions. You did that one well. Flies are annoying but they have some uses. A clever person has figured out how to use flies to A, power a working model airplane; B, herd sheep; C, paint a wall.

POUNDSTONE: Wow.

COHEN: One of these is correct?

SAGAL: Yes indeed.

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: I guess I'm going to go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A and you're right again Andy.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

DICKINSON: Whoa.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Just order your plane from flypower.com. You assemble the plane, you catch a fly, it's up to you. You attach the fly and off it goes.

COHEN: Wow.

SAGAL: Let's see if you can be perfect in this as you are in so many other things. Everybody knows it's really hard to swat a fly, but one inventor got a patent for his brilliant idea. What is it? A, a fly swatter so tiny the fly will never see it coming; B, a flaming flyswatter with a fuel tank and igniter; or C, a modified cattle gun that allows you to hit the fly with enough force to punch through the wall behind it.

COHEN: A.

SAGAL: You're right again Andy.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

POUNDSTONE: Oh wow.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Good grief.

KURTIS: Who knew? Andy.

SAGAL: Who knew? There's a patented flyswatter. The impact surface is about the size of the fly. You attach it to your finger and all you need to do is flick it exactly right. Bill how did Andy Cohen do on our show?

KURTIS: Andy, I want you to call your mother right now and tell her I got them all right.

SAGAL: Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Andy Cohen from Bravo, his new book is "The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look At A Shallow Year." And ladies and gentlemen, it is a hoot and a half. Andy Cohen, thank you so much for joining us.

COHEN: Thank you so much.

SAGAL: It was such a pleasure to have you.

KURTIS: See you, Andy

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLY TROUBLE")

HANK WILLIAMS: (Singing) Buzz, buzz, buzz, goes that busy busy little fly. Buzz, buzz, buzz, he's taking off an high. You roll the paper up nice and tight and you wait around for him to light, but there's a fly that's living right. Buzz, buzz, buzz.

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