Not My Job: Singer Alex Boyé Gets Quizzed On Chef Boyardee
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where people travel a long way to arrive at a brief moment of silliness. It's called Not My Job. Alex Boye lives here in Salt Lake City. But he was born in London to a Nigerian mother. And along the way, he has led a boy band, sung in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and been a backup dancer for George Michael. Yeah...
SAGAL: ...Fine, you might say. But what's he done that's unusual? Well, he also personally gave a Book of Mormon to Prince Charles. How's that?
ALEX BOYE: It was a dare. It was a dare.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: Alex Boye, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
BOYE: Thank you so much.
SAGAL: It's such a pleasure to have you.
BOYE: This is great. This is great.
SAGAL: The more I read about you, the more I believe you're a fictional character...
SAGAL: ...Because it - so - but that's true. You grew up kind of rough in London.
BOYE: Yeah, I went through the foster care system a lot and everything. And then I end up - ended up at a boarding school...
SAGAL: Oh, really?
BOYE: ...When I was 11. The school I went to was Wolstein Hall (ph) School. And it was, like, subsidized, so all the kids from the hood, from the really bad places of London and broken homes, all that kind of stuff. And the school, the buildings looked like something out of "Harry Potter."
BOYE: But without the magic and the moving floorboards. But we were, like, literally living "Harry Potter." And the education I got was amazing. Like, I failed every class, but when I would go to get a job in England, as soon as I saw the school - oh, Wolstein Hall School. Oh, come on. Yes, yes, we'll take you.
SAGAL: So you were all - you were like the kids in the rough neighborhood.
BOYE: Yeah. I felt like, you know, the English version of "Fresh Prince From Bel Air."
AMY DICKINSON: Oh, gosh.
SAGAL: So, Alex, tell us, when did you start singing?
BOYE: I actually started music - I got kicked out of my house when I was 16 years old for becoming a Mormon.
BOYE: So - yeah, this is a...
SAGAL: I mean...
DICKINSON: But wait, wait, wait. I have a question. So, Alex, you're in England.
DICKINSON: Did some guys on bicycles ride up and talk to you?
DICKINSON: Like, how did you learn about it?
BOYE: I'll tell you the truth.
DICKINSON: It's such an American...
BOYE: Well, I used to work at McDonald's. I'm going home. I'm, like, sweating and everything, working at McDonald's and everything. I turn up. I'm walking to my doorstep. I walk up. And what did I see? (Singing) Two sister missionaries smiling at me.
BOYE: No, but - hey, listen. Here's the thing. Here's the thing. Let me tell you thing. They were so freaking hot.
BOYE: All I'm saying is the man upstairs has got a sense of humor. So anyway...
SAGAL: I've heard a lot of reasons for converting to Mormonism, but that was never been one of them before.
DICKINSON: I love it.
BOYE: I'm going to honest.
SAGAL: So as you say, we could be here all day.
BOYE: Yes, we could (laughter).
SAGAL: But eventually you decided to leave London, and you came to Salt Lake City.
SAGAL: Here you are. And you joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
BOYE: Yeah, yeah. I was there for eight years. My manager - I have this manager who's such a hustler, right? So after I left the choir - I left about four years ago, and he said - this is how he had publicized me. He said, Alex Boye was the first black lead singer of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
SAGAL: I was going to ask you how, in a chorus of 300 people, how you would stand out. But I guess I know.
BOYE: (Laughter) There was three - there's three black guys in the choir. When I was in the choir...
BOYE: ...We used to call ourselves three pieces of licorice in a sea of marshmallows.
SAGAL: Really? What is it like singing in a chorus of 300 people?
BOYE: Can I tell you? When you are singing with 360 people in a spiritual sense, singing about God, I'm telling you, man, saved my life.
SAGAL: Really? Really? And in a way that your performing with boy bands prior to that did not.
BOYE: Oh, yeah. That's right.
BOYE: We won't go into that. But yeah.
SAGAL: Well, no. You had a boy - you must be - I mean, there are so many, like, things that only you have done.
SAGAL: You went from having a boy band that opened for NSYNC...
SAGAL: ...And the Backstreet Boys.
BOYE: Our band, the Backstreet Boys opened up for us in Cardiff in 1995, I believe. And this was when we'd already had one hit. And then the Backstreet Boys came, and they were the first boy band ever where all the singers could actually sing.
BOYE: My group - so there's four of us, right?
BOYE: And only one of us could sing, and that was me - barely, right? So I'd go into the studio, record all my voices...
DICKINSON: Oh, my God.
BOYE: And then we'd get on stage, and I'd turn all their mics off.
BOYE: And they would mime everything. So it was all my voice...
SAGAL: What was the band...
BOYE: ...But they were amazing dancers. No, I'm not going to tell you because you're going to look it up.
SAGAL: But did they know that? Did they know that nobody could hear them?
BOYE: Well, no because they sang at the top of their voices.
BOYE: So I just turned their mics off. I told the engineers to turn their mics off. So they didn't know. To this day, they're like, we are the best singers in the world. We are the greatest...
ADAM BURKE: So that - like, that's, like, the opposite of the Mormon Tabernacle where you're the only one singing.
BOYE: (Singing) That's right.
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: I love the way that you - the way you tell your stories is like an old general talking about a battle he was in.
GOLDTHWAIT: It was Cardiff. It was 1994. It was me and three other guys.
SAGAL: Well, Alex Boye, we have invited you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Boye, Meet Boyardee.
SAGAL: The more we talked about you, the hungrier we got. And we realized that's because your name reminded us of Chef Boyardee, the very real chef who lent his name to the immortal line of canned pasta products. Answer three questions about Chef Boyardee and his food, and you'll win a prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they might choose for their voicemail. Bill, who is the irrepressible Alex Boye playing for?
KURTIS: Bob Troncolli (ph) of New Windsor, N.Y.
SAGAL: All right, you - I think you're ready to do this.
BOYE: OK. I'm ready.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: First question, though it has been popular with generations of kids, not everyone is a fan of Chef Boyardee, as proven by which of these incidents - A, before Hurricane Dorian touched ground in the Bahamas, the only thing left in supermarkets were cans of Chef Boyardee lasagna...
BOYE: That's cold, man. That's cold.
SAGAL: ...B, a half a ton of uneaten Chef Boyardee spaghetti was found stuffed into the crawlspace behind a junior high cafeteria in Michigan, or C, when rescuers reached the remains of an airplane crash site in the Himalayas, they found signs of cannibalism and 10 unopened cans...
DICKINSON: Oh, no.
SAGAL: ...Of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.
DICKINSON: Oh, no.
BOYE: I'm going to go for A.
SAGAL: You're going to go for A, Hurricane Dorian. You're right, Alex. That's what happened.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
BOYE: Come on.
SAGAL: OK, here's your next question. While no one thinks of Chef Boyardee as health food, it's probably never put anyone's life at risk, except for one time when what happened - A, a grocery worker at a Florida Piggly Wiggly was trapped in the pyramid of Chef Boyardee cans that was built around him while he napped...
SAGAL: ...B, when a Marine deployed in the Middle East accidentally microwaved a can with the lid on causing a small explosion, all of his fellow troops ran in with their M-16s, or C, a woman in China developed aluminum poisoning because she loved Chef Boyardee Ravioli so much she would chew on the empty cans.
DICKINSON: Ooh. Ooh.
BOYE: I'm definitely going to go for B.
SAGAL: You're going to go for B, the Marine. Yes, that's what happened.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
BOYE: B, yeah.
SAGAL: Everybody was fine.
BOYE: Because I've done that (laughter).
SAGAL: We've all done it. All right, last question for you. One of the best things about Chef Boyardee is that it's pretty cheap. But in 2001, true Chef Boyardee fans had the chance to spend $300 to do what - A, eat a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli in a cage with professional wrestler The Big Show, B, eat a special customized dish of Kickin' Sloppin' Joe (ph) macaroni as made by renowned chef Thomas Keller, or C, watch renowned chef Thomas Keller be forced to eat a can of Kickin' Sloppy Joe macaroni.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBERS: C.
SAGAL: Now you're all calling for C, which involves forcing...
SAGAL: ...One of the most respected chefs in the world...
SAGAL: ...To eat a bowl of Chef Boyardee.
BOYE: Yeah, C.
SAGAL: You're going to go for C?
BOYE: I want to be adventurous. I'm going to go out on a limb and go for C.
SAGAL: Well, I've got two things to say. First of all, it was A. And secondly, despite the stereotype, you're all terrible people.
SAGAL: No, it was true that if you've ever wanted to eat Chef Boyardee ravioli in a cage with the professional wrestler The Big Show, you missed your chance. It happened back in 2001. Bill, how did Alex do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Two out of three. That's a win.
BOYE: Not bad.
SAGAL: You're a winner.
KURTIS: That's a win.
BOYE: (Imitating bird noise).
SAGAL: Alex Boye is a singer, actor and dancer. His new album, "Coming To America," is on sale now. Alex Boye, thank you so much for joining us...
BOYE: Thank you. Thank you so much.
SAGAL: ...At WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
BOYE: You guys are awesome.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WINNER")
BOYE: (Singing) I'm what you call a winner. I've been giving it all since the day I was born. I've seen my share...
SAGAL: When we come back, we talk to everybody's favorite human being, Henry Winkler, and a hardened felon - well, kinda. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.