Time flies when you're having fun... or making fun! January 3, 2003 was the fifth anniversary of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Host Peter Sagal pauses for a moment to wax nostalgic about his favorite moments on the show.
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May, 1998 -- Meeting Carl Kasell
Because of the odd, displaced, multiple-city nature of the way we produce our show, I had been on the air with Carl for five months before actually shaking his hand. I stress shaking his hand because that's what we did, for the first minute or so: He just gently gripped my hand and shook it, smiling. I remember getting this odd thrill to hear that voice emerge from that kind face, addressing me directly. In fact, I still get a thrill when he talks to me.
January, 2000 -- Our First Live Show
We had been talking about taping a show in front of a live audience, the way people do about someday climbing Mt. Everest or learning jazz piano. Then Chris Eisenberg, the station manager at KCPW in Salt Lake City, called our bluff. We had absolutely no idea if our show would work on stage, and even if it did, if anybody would actually pay to come to see it. Thanks to the enthusiastic listener community in Salt Lake -- and wisely low ticket prices -- it was a sell-out, climaxing with Carl stage diving onto the audience. Maybe I'm making that up. It was awfully fun, though.
June, 2001 -- Our Chicago Homecoming Show
After "touring" the country for a year and a half, we were ready to play our hometown, at the Chicago Symphony Center. Two-thousand paying customers. Charlie Pierce, Roy Blount, Jr., Carl Kasell and myself in black tie. Roxanne in a fabulous gown. And, our special guest, Chicago native actor John Mahoney. We got to hang in the bar afterwards with Bill Murray. Life gets no better, folks.
December 2001 -- Madeleine Albright Appears on Our Show
We've had a lot of famous and even powerful people appear on the show -- Senators John McCain and Orrin Hatch, for example -- but there was something about Maddy (as we all now affectionately call her) that was special. Maybe it was just the fact that this former shaper of world policy would even take our call. Maybe it was that she was hilariously funny. (On her ability to bench press 200 pounds with her legs: "It's useful for kicking ass.") Maybe it was because she seemed actually honored to be named our first "Newsmaker of the Year." Or maybe she just didn't have a lot else to do at the time.
September, 2001 -- Our First Post-Sept. 11, 2001 Show
We honestly had no idea, right after Sept. 11, 2001, whether we'd ever be on the air again. Would this new world have any place for a humorous news quiz? But ten days later, we broadcast a show, saying to our audience: Everybody has a job, and ours is to try to be funny about the news once a week. We would try to do our job with the devotion that others brought to their more relevant occupations. So we did, and in the weeks that followed, we received messages from all over the country telling us how much it meant to our audience, in that very serious time, to have us on the air, being as meaningless as possible.