Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Bluff The Listener

Our panelists tell three stories about an old joke coming to life, only one of which is true.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

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, Roxanne Roberts and Peter Grosz. And here again is your host, at the Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, Peter Sagal.

(APPLAUSE)

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you. 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 air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

LAURA OWENS: Hi, this is Laura from Fargo, North Dakota.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Fargo?

OWENS: Excellent, excellent.

SAGAL: Really, they're not freakishly cold yet?

OWENS: No of course not. It's beautiful fall here.

SAGAL: Oh awesome. What do you do there?

OWENS: I do communications for a hospitality company.

SAGAL: You do communications for a hospitality - what is a hospitality company?

OWENS: We own and operate hotels across the area.

SAGAL: Oh I see, that kind of hospitality. I thought you were just nice.

(LAUGHTER)

OWENS: We are nice, of course.

SAGAL: Well that's excellent. Welcome to the show, Laura.

OWENS: Thank you.

SAGAL: You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Laura's topic?

KASELL: Knock Knock.

SAGAL: Who's there?

KASELL: No, no, no, that's the topic, Peter.

SAGAL: Oh. Everyone grows up, leans some variation on the old jokes; knock, knock; a guy man walks into a bar; Kanye West.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This week we read about an old joke coming to life in the news. Guess which panelist is telling the real-life joke, and you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering voicemail. Ready to go?

OWENS: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right. First let's hear from Peter Grosz.

PETER GROSZ: The city of Gdansk, Poland, isn't just famous for having the country's sixth-biggest population, an average summer temperature of 72 degrees, a large seaport and a very easy-to-read Wikipedia page, it also boasts one of Poland's most thriving theater communities. This fall, the People's Theater of Gdansk was mounting a production of "West Side Story" with the clean-cut, finger-snapping Jets representing Poles and the dastardly high-kicking Sharks standing in for the Russians.

But on opening night, a key light on the set went out in the middle of the show. It needed to be fixed and fixed fast. But an argument erupted over whose job it was to fix it. Strict electrician's union rules dictated that only a union electrician be allowed to work on lighting equipment. But equally strong stagehands union laws called for a stagehand to perform any and all work on a theatrical set.

So they made a deal. The electricians stood on a chair holding a light bulb while the stagehand turned the chair.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: The show was able to go on after it took two Poles to screw in the light bulb.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Pretty interesting story of the old joke about how many Poles does it take to screw in a light bulb coming true because of union rules. Your next (unintelligible) of starting a joke that got the whole world laughing comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Rachel Brooks(ph) heard plenty of yo momma jokes during the seven years she taught gym in L.A.'s middle schools: Yo momma is so fat she has her own zip code; and yo momma is so fat that people jog around her for exercise. But now the joke's on everyone else. The former teacher is the founder of the new Yo momma plus-size fitness line, which just landed a one-million deal with Home Shopping Network.

Quote, I'm a large woman, Brooks told the L.A. Times, but I've always been fit, and I look good. In a crowded field of earnest exercise gear, she says plastering Yo momma across her colorful Spandex clothing makes customers laugh and buy the products, especially ironic, young urban professionals.

FUBU founder Daymond John invested half-a-million dollars. Comedian Monique is her new spokeswoman. Brooks' new motto: Yo momma is so rich she can buy her own zip code.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yo momma turned on its ear by an entrepreneur in L.A.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: And your last story of someone whose life is a joke comes from Mo Rocca.

MO ROCCA: Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it was finally safe to do so. In Britain, owners are dressing their pet chickens in fluorescent bibs to protect them from motorists. The high-visibility chicken jackets, which come in pink and yellow, were designed by a company called Omelet, which is also the name of something that chickens help make.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Quote, most people who have chickens as pets will have them out and about, says the company spokesperson, and we do hear about chickens who do cross the road. The shower-proof bibs - no, chickens don't have to take them off when they bathe - have a Velcro fastening at the front and a quilted lining.

The company warns that the chicken jacket is not suitable for pajamas and should be removed at night.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Jane Howorth(ph), founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust - yes, that Jane Howorth - hopes it will discourage the fad of owners putting their chickens in hand-knit sweaters, which, let's face it, are probably pretty itchy.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: For the chickens, not people.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: No one thought that again, Mo. All right, here are your choices. One of these is a true story from the week's news. From Peter Grosz, how union rules got two Poles to screw in a light bulb in the, shall we say, jocular fashion; From Roxanne Roberts a company in which yo momma has become not an insult but a phrase of respect; or from Mo Rocca, the story of how chickens are now crossing the road safely in England. Which of these is the real story of an old joke turning true?

OWENS: I'm going to have to go with Mo and the chickens.

SAGAL: Really? Why is that?

(APPLAUSE)

JOHANNES PAUL: Safety first, this is logical.

SAGAL: Safety - it's logical, safety first. All right, well your choice is Mo's story of the chickens learning to cross the road safely with their little vests. Well, we spoke to somebody intimately involved with this story.

PAUL: Chickens should always be supervised. I wouldn't say that just because they're wearing a high-vis jacket means that they're completely safe crossing the road.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That was Johannes Paul, a spokesman for Omelet, the company that makes the chicken vests. Congratulations, you got it right, Laura, well done.

OWENS: Thank you.

SAGAL: You earned a point for Mo Rocca. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail. And more importantly, you've taught Roxanne a lesson, that sounding reasonable simply won't help.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: And, you know, you know, now I'm just - I'm craving one of these little chicken bibs. I don't even have any chickens, and I want one of these bibs.

SAGAL: Well sure, they are adorable. Laura, congratulations, and thanks so much for playing with us today.

OWENS: Thank you so much.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

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