Behind The Stories

Wait Wait ... Is that Carl's Face?

The audience at last night's taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in Portland, Maine, holding up faces of Carl Kasell.

hide captionThe audience at last night's taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in Portland, Maine, holding up faces of Carl Kasell.

Dan Lambert/Maine Public Broadcasting

Last night, the Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! crew took the show on the road to visit the fine folks in Portland, Maine.

While you'll be able to hear the whole show on your local NPR Member Station this weekend, we've got a little surprise for you.

Well, actually, it's a surprise for Carl Kasell.

Want to Hear More More from Carl?

Maine Public Broadcasting Network Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz spoke to Carl while he was in the state this week.

Maine Public Broadcasting Network staff came up with an idea to give the program's official judge and scorekeeper a familiar welcome when he comes on stage: an auditorium full of his own face.

As the audience members arrived at the Merrill Auditorium for last night's taping, they were each given a life-sized cutout of Carl's head fastened to a stick. On the back of the head were instructions to hold it up to their face when Peter Sagal gave them the 'welcome' cue.

Merrill Auditorium volunteers handed out Carl's head to the audience members as they entered the venue.

hide captionMerrill Auditorium volunteers handed out Carl's head to the audience members as they entered the venue.

Dan Lambert/Maine Public Broadcasting

When Peter took the stage to begin the warm-up, says Kate Cox, of Maine Public Broadcasting Network's special events team, "he made jokes about Maine, lobsters and the gritty Maine people."

"Then he 'welcomed' Carl," Cox said.

The house lights came up and the 1,900 audience members (who snatched up all the tickets in 45 minutes) held their own Carl heads up to their faces as the veteran newsman stepped out onto the stage.

An auditorium full of his own face: the sold-out crowd offering a familiar welcome just as Carl came on stage.

hide captionAn auditorium full of his own face: the sold-out crowd offering a familiar welcome just as Carl came on stage.

Mark Vogelzang/Maine Public Broadcasting

"It was a blast," says Cox. "Amy Dickinson [one of the panelists] was so thrilled she said 'Why did this take so long to happen?!'"

When we asked Carl about what he thought of the surprise welcome, in his characteristically humble and unassuming way, he said:

"I thought it was very nice."

Even Carl got in on the fun after the surprise welcome.

hide captionEven Carl got in on the fun after the surprise welcome.

Mark Vogelzang/Maine Public Broadcasting

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