HELEN HONG, HOST:
And now the game where we ask talented people to do something that requires no skill whatsoever. It's called Not My Job. The comedian and actor Retta is best known for her role as Donna on the hit comedy "Parks And Recreation." She currently stars on NBC's new series "Good Girls" and she has a book out next week called, "So Close To Being The [expletive], Y'all Don't Even Know." Retta, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
RETTA: Thank you.
HONG: So the title of your book actually has a not-safe-for-work word in it, which is why I had to go boop. Be honest, did you call it that just to watch interviewers squirm when they had to say it on the air?
RETTA: Little bit, little bit.
HONG: 'Cause you're not the one that actually has to say the title, right? Other people have to say it.
RETTA: Yeah, generally I don't, but I do like saying it.
HONG: What's the most creative any interviewer has come up with to say the title?
RETTA: Usually they say so close to being the blank. But Kelly Ripa said so close to being the S.
HONG: Oh, the S. That Kelly, she's clever.
HONG: She's a clever girl. Now, I know your real name is Marietta Sirleaf, which sounds so noble I feel like I should bow when I'm saying it.
RETTA: You should.
HONG: I just did, Marietta Sirleaf. Now why do you just go by one name, Retta?
RETTA: When I was in college, I hooked up with this guy from Georgia, and they pronounce Marietta, Ga., May-retta (ph). And he started calling me Retta as if I allowed it and my friends thought it was hilarious and so they insisted on calling me that.
RETTA: And then so when I first started doing stand-up, I was doing an open mic and the emcee came out and said, who's next? I was like me. He's like what's your name? Marietta Sirleaf. What? I was like just Retta, and that's how I got Retta.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Because you didn't have the patience to go over your actual name with him.
RETTA: No, I was like if this is too challenging, let's stick to the easy stuff.
HONG: But now you're like a one-namer, which I think is boss.
RETTA: Yeah, me, Cher, Bono - living that life.
HONG: I heard you were about to pursue medicine before moving to LA to become a comedian. How did that work?
RETTA: I was pre-med. I was all about the books growing up, and I was taking a year off after college, which was the first time I ever lived alone. And so I wanted a break just before I went into medical school. And I used to - and I was living by myself so my TV was my roommate and after a while I would be like, I can do this, I can do this.
RETTA: But I decided that I wanted to have my own sitcom, which is why I started doing stand-up because I saw that so many sitcoms were headed by stand-up comedians, so I went into stand-up.
HONG: Yeah, I'm a stand-up comedian and I still haven't gotten one so.
HONG: We're working on it.
ADAM FELBER: Oh, awkward.
HONG: How - don't you come from...
HONG: Don't you come from an immigrant family, Retta?
RETTA: I do. My parents are Liberian.
HONG: And how do - how does your immigrant - myself coming from an immigrant family, when I told them I was going to become a stand-up comedian, they were like, what? So how did yours - because you were actually like on your way to medical school. How did they take that?
RETTA: They were actually pretty good about it. My mother said, you know, you're carrying around your father's last name, which is why I don't use my last name.
RETTA: My dad's big thing was like, just get health insurance.
RETTA: He's like if something happens to you, we can't take care of you.
HONG: Now speaking of your dad's last name, I heard that you're actually the niece of a Liberian former president.
RETTA: Yeah, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was married to my dad's cousin.
HONG: So you come from not only an immigrant family but an immigrant family with like - that was really high up.
RETTA: Yeah, I guess our version of royalty over there.
HONG: Seriously, because she won a Nobel Peace Prize, right?
RETTA: And she met Oprah, homie.
HONG: Better than a Nobel Peace Prize.
RETTA: That one was even cooler because I got more calls about her being on Oprah than her winning the Nobel Prize.
HONG: Your biggest role was as Donna on "Parks And Recreation."
HONG: And are you - so I - can I just tell you I was a guest star on one episode of "Parks And Recreation" for literally 42 seconds, and I have had people accost me on the street. So I can't imagine what you must be dealing with having been on - like a series regular on the whole show.
RETTA: Oh, yeah, there's not a day that I walk out of the house and don't hear treat yourself, but it's fine.
HONG: Oh see, we've opened the floodgates here.
HONG: All right. Retta we have invited you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Good boy, that's a good boy.
HONG: You are currently starring on a show called "Good Girls." So naturally we want to ask you about good boys, as in doggies.
HONG: We're talking about doggies. We're going to ask you three questions about dogs who have been very good boys. Get two of them right and you'll win a prize for one of our listeners - any voice from our show on their voicemail. Bill, who is Retta playing for?
KURTIS: Donyal Emami of Houston, Texas.
HONG: Retta, are you ready?
HONG: OK. Here's your first question. A dog in England has been on a tighter leash since its owner discovered it had been doing what? A, licking all the freshly washed dishes in the house; B, traveling by bus twice a week to a local pub where he was fed sausages; or C, attempting to mate with the neighbor's cat, which it must be said was a very doggish-looking cat.
RETTA: Well, I - I'm going to go with C.
RETTA: Humping on the other - humping on a cat.
HONG: Humping on a cat?
HONG: Yeah? OK. I'm sorry, the answer was B, traveling by bus twice a week to the local pub where he was fed sausages.
HONG: The funniest part is apparently he could catch the bus there but like couldn't catch the bus back so he always had to be driven home - hilarious.
HONG: All right. Retta, here's your next question. It's OK. You have two more guesses left, so here's your next question. After being robbed several times, a tire shop in Texas decided to enlist the help of a guard dog. What happened next? A, the owners returned to discover the dog had chewed up every single one of their tires; B, the dog distracted a gang of robbers by humping their legs until the cops came; C, the next time thieves broke in, they stole the dog and some more tires.
RETTA: Oh, gosh, I'm gonna - I'm going to go with C.
HONG: Yes, that is correct.
HONG: Actually, they stole the guard dog on top of stealing the tires. The thieves must have had treats or he must have flunked guard dog school. All right, Retta, you are doing great. You got one right. Here is your last question. We like to give our dogs what they need. Which of these was created just for dogs? A, a new dating website called Fetch Me, helps your pup find true love by displaying photos and barks of the dogs registered with it.
KURTIS: That's brilliant.
HONG: B, Spotify launched Adoptify, a music service that helps you find a dog that shares your tastes in music; or C, Petco created a new line of dog beds that you can custom order to smell like your dog's favorite butt.
RETTA: Well, I'm going to go with B.
HONG: Spotify? Yes, that is correct.
HONG: Yes. You can find a dog that loves the kind of weird emo music that you're into. And I say no matter how cute the dog is, if that dog is into Red Hot Chili Peppers, keep it moving, dog. Bill, how did Retta do?
KURTIS: You know, Retta is a winner in our books.
HONG: Retta stars in the series "Good Girls" which was just renewed for a second season on NBC. Her new book, "So Close To Being The [expletive], Y'all Don't Even Know" is out next week. Retta, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
POUNDSTONE: Bye, Retta, thanks.
RETTA: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF "PARKS AND RECREATION" THEME)
HONG: In just a minute, Bill visits the wiener circle in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in just a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
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