Not My Job: 'Good Wife' Star Alan Cumming Gets Quizzed On Bad Wives Cumming plays Eli Gold on the TV series The Good Wife, so we'll see how much he knows about bad wives. Originally broadcast Dec. 3, 2016.
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Not My Job: 'Good Wife' Star Alan Cumming Gets Quizzed On Bad Wives

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Not My Job: 'Good Wife' Star Alan Cumming Gets Quizzed On Bad Wives

Not My Job: 'Good Wife' Star Alan Cumming Gets Quizzed On Bad Wives

Not My Job: 'Good Wife' Star Alan Cumming Gets Quizzed On Bad Wives

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/544552586/544693100" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Cumming plays Eli Gold on the TV series The Good Wife, so we'll see how much he knows about bad wives. Originally broadcast Dec. 3, 2016.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: This week, we are reviewing the first half of the year and making the case it wasn't as bad as it seemed, which will make the second half of the year seem even worse, so sorry about that.

KURTIS: In the spring, actor and singer Alan Cumming toured the country with his own show of cabaret songs. And before a performance in Chicago, he stopped by our theater. Peter asked him, out of all his many roles, what do people most recognize him for?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ALAN CUMMING: Oh, it's so hard to tell. I used to sort of gauge people when they'd come up to me by their age, or their - you know, some sort of demographic. But now, I can't even tell. It's really amazing. Like, there'll be some little kid that will come up and go, I love you on "Masterpiece Mystery." And then some old granny will come up and say, I loved you in, you know, "X-Men." It's just so difficult.

SAGAL: Yeah.

CUMMING: I was in a cafe in Louisville, and a lady came up to me and was - I loved that film you were in when you played the imaginary friend. And I was like, that's an imaginary film.

(LAUGHTER)

CUMMING: I don't know what you're talking about.

SAGAL: You've done all these extraordinarily different movies, everything from "Eyes Wide Shut" to "Viva Rock Vegas."

CUMMING: That's right.

SAGAL: Yeah. Do you have a rule by how you pick roles?

CUMMING: Obviously not if you look at my resume.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: "The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas," that was just for the aesthetic challenge, I'm sure.

CUMMING: Totally, I always wanted to, you know - I'm a Fred Flintstone fanatic. So I wanted to get dressed up in a green outfit and be suspended in wires for weeks on end.

SAGAL: And the check cleared, I'm sure.

CUMMING: Yes, definitely.

LUKE BURBANK: But it weighed 200 pounds, and it was made out of stone.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I thought I knew your career because I'm a theater fan and I knew of all the work you've done there as well as the movies. We were looking through your resume. We found some things I had never heard of. You hosted a talk show with your dogs?

CUMMING: So it wasn't really a talk show. It was called "Midnight Snack." What I did was I would introduce a film, and my dogs would be there on the set with me. And at the end I would come back and talk a little bit more. And my dogs would kind of grade the film.

SAGAL: Were they - how would they - how did they indicate their opinion of the film?

CUMMING: Well, Honey (ph), she was the bigger dog. She would do two paws up or two paws down.

SAGAL: Sure.

CUMMING: And sometimes four paws up if she really liked the film.

ADAM FELBER: Wow, so enthusiastic.

CUMMING: And then my chihuahua, Leo (ph) - and what we eventually ended up doing is he would howl if he liked it, that was the gag.

FELBER: That was also how Siskel and Ebert used to review movies in the very early days.

SAGAL: Yeah. Now you are touring with your own cabaret show...

CUMMING: Yes.

SAGAL: ...Called "Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs."

CUMMING: Correct.

SAGAL: I got the record, you have a record of the show or a version of the show. And I was, like, oh, sappy songs, I like sappy songs. One of the great things about the record, and I'm assuming this is true of the live show as well, is the stories you tell.

CUMMING: Yes.

SAGAL: You tell some amazing stories about yourself. Like, there's one about a tattoo that I found quite amazing.

CUMMING: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CUMMING: So I - so 16 years ago I met this boy and we start - we, you know, became a couple. And after - and it was a very intense, crazy relationship, really stupid. And after - so much so that after two weeks of knowing each other, we had our names tattooed on each other's bodies, on our groins.

SAGAL: Right.

CUMMING: And...

SAGAL: How did - who brought up that idea?

CUMMING: You know, I can't remember. I think it was just one of those sort of things that seemed like a great idea. And we both just thought it was, you know - have you wanted another tattoo? Me too. Let's get each other's names tattooed. We love each other, let's do it. Yay. And then four months after that, we'd split up. It was a four and a half month relationship. And I had - his name was Raven. And I was going to change it to, like, ravenous or...

(LAUGHTER)

CUMMING: But then - so any - but then I didn't - so I had it removed in a very, very painful and...

SAGAL: Yeah.

CUMMING: ...With the laser, laser, you know, tattoo removal thing because basically when I started, you know, having - going into - getting into the dating game again, it was - it became really embarrassing when people would be in that area and they would like, who's Raven?

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Do you know what became of Raven's tattoo?

CUMMING: I do. That's the punchline to the story.

SAGAL: Yes, please.

CUMMING: So - and actually, Raven is coming. He lives in Cleveland, and I'm doing a concert there on Sunday evening.

SAGAL: Oh, wow.

(LAUGHTER)

CUMMING: Raven is going to be coming. And I'm really hoping he will come on stage and show us his tattoo because...

SAGAL: Is it in the same place that you...

CUMMING: His - yes, it's exactly the same place. And so I got mine removed. And then we met up, you know, nine months later and had this kind of awkward evening. And he sort of said to me, do you still have your tattoo? And I was like, no, I had it wrenched from my body by laser.

(LAUGHTER)

CUMMING: And then I said, do you still have yours? And he went, kind of. And right there, where it used to say Alan, now it says balance.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Nice.

HELEN HONG: Well done, Raven.

CUMMING: Yes, exactly. A for effort again.

SAGAL: Well, Alan Cumming, we are so delighted to have you with us. We really are. And you know, everyone knows why. But we have, in fact, asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Bad Wife - Bad, Wife.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So you, of course, starred in the TV series "The Good Wife," so naturally, we thought we'd ask you about bad wives. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of Carl Kasell. Bill, who is Alan Cumming playing for?

KURTIS: Sam Robinson of Mesa, Ariz.

SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this? OK. You've done harder things. One thing that makes a bad wife might be attempted homicide. In 2015, a British woman failed in her attempt to murder her husband and then was caught - how? A - he attempted to assassinate her at exactly the same time and they realized they still had a lot in common.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: B - she faked a suicide note for him in which he said, supposedly, he wanted a death with dignity, but she misspelled it dignirty (ph). Or C - it turns out the website assasinsrus.org is not a real business.

(LAUGHTER)

CUMMING: I think B. I think this misspelling.

SAGAL: That's exactly right. That's what happened.

CUMMING: Yay.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: And the husband survived the poisoning attempt. And the police were investigating, and they actually said to her, would you just write the word dignity. And she wrote dignirty, and they were like, you're busted. Another bad wife is Vicky Lowing (ph) of Australia. She showed her true wifely qualities when she did what to Mr. Lowing? A - she sold his kidney on the Internet while he was still using it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: B - attempted to kill him with a Vegemite overdose. Or C - chose her beloved pet crocodile over him.

CUMMING: I think, perhaps, the kidney thing.

SAGAL: No, it was actually the crocodile. She said, I can't stand this crocodile, either he goes or I do. And he said goodbye, I'm sticking with Scaley (ph). All right. This is good. This is exciting...

CUMMING: Oh, it's a tie-breaker in this situation. That's nice.

SAGAL: I know, it's a tie-breaker, you can win it all with this one. So there was a Romanian woman who did not report her husband's death for two weeks. Why not? Was it, A - she said, I enjoyed the quiet.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Was it B - it took that long, she maintained, for him to start smelling worse than he did when he was alive?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or C - she was convinced he was faking it so he could sneak off with a mistress.

CUMMING: (Laughter) Gosh, I think we're going to go with A.

SAGAL: I'm sorry, it was actually C.

CUMMING: Rubbish.

SAGAL: I know. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

CUMMING: The mistress? She thought he was dying - pretending to be dead for two weeks...

SAGAL: Yeah, she actually convinced - she was convinced that he was trying to, like, somehow sneak off. So he sat there and just - she sat there and looked at the dead body for two weeks. And when he failed to move, she was like, all right.

CUMMING: Fair enough.

SAGAL: Yeah. Bill, how did Alan Cumming do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Alan, no one loses on the show.

CUMMING: OK.

KURTIS: So you did great, 1 out of 3.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Alan Cumming, thank you so much. Thank you for coming, ladies and gentlemen. Bravo.

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