The Karate Kickin' Cockroach Mindy signs Guy Raz and herself up for a karate lesson! But when she starts talking about cockroaches, jewel wasps, and zombies, Guy Raz quickly realizes that this is not going to be your typical karate class. What in the Wow does Mindy have Up her sleeves this time? Listen in for The Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and Wow in the World of the Karate Kickin' Cockroach!
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The Karate Kickin' Cockroach

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The Karate Kickin' Cockroach

The Karate Kickin' Cockroach

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Hey, Wowzer fams. Before we start the show, just a reminder that it's never too late to give the gift of wow. Members of the World Organization of Wowzers receive an official member's only T-shirt, an autographed picture of us, exclusive episodic activities, including crafts, recipes and book recommendations. Plus, with every membership, you automatically gift lesson plans to an underserved classroom. And there's even more. To learn more about becoming or gifting a membership to the W-O-W, visit That's it. Now let's get on with the show.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Stay seated. Three, two, one, ignition.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Get ready for an adventure of magnificent proportion.

THE POP UPS: (Singing) I don't know what you've been told, but we're in a golden age - so many discoveries that are jumping off the page. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: With Guy and Mindy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We're on our way, Houston.

THOMAS: (Singing) La cucaracha, la cucaracha, blah, blah, bleep, bloop, blah, blah, blah.


THOMAS: Ooh, Guy Raz.


Mindy, come on. We're going to be late for our karate class.

THOMAS: Hang on. I've just got to put on my karate suit. Where did I put my karate suit? Oh, here it is. OK, let me see here. Thorax, abdomen and head. Walking to my full-length mirror. Oh, yeah. How you like me now?


RAZ: What is taking you so long? If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times - being early is on time. Being on time is late.

THOMAS: Good morning, Guy Raz. Ready for our karate lesson?

RAZ: Mindy? Is that you?

THOMAS: Oh, sorry. I guess I should take off my head.

RAZ: What? No, I was...

THOMAS: That's better. I was starting to get sweaty in there.

RAZ: Mindy, why are you dressed up in a giant cockroach suit?

THOMAS: Guy Raz, why would I not be dressed up in a giant cockroach suit?

RAZ: I don't know how I'm supposed to answer that question.

THOMAS: Well, good news for you - I made two. Come on in, and we'll get you all suited up.

RAZ: No, I'm...

THOMAS: Come on. It'll only hurt a bit.

RAZ: Mindy, did you forget about our karate class today.

THOMAS: Did you forget about our karate class today? Looks to me like you're still in your bathrobe.

RAZ: Mindy, I'm wearing my karate gi. This is the traditional karate uniform that I had imported from Japan. Do you know how difficult it is to find one of these things with elbow patches.


RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Well, I didn't sign us up for that kind of karate class.

RAZ: Oh, no, I have your email right here. Look. Let me read it to you. It says, what's kickin', little chicken? We are. Surprise, I've signed us up for karate lessons. Peace, love and pogo sticks, your BFFFFFFFF, Mindy. P.S., what do you call a pig that knows karate? Wait for it - a pork chop.

THOMAS: Yeah. Keep reading.

RAZ: That's the end.

THOMAS: You didn't read the fine print.

RAZ: The fine - (groaning).

THOMAS: Here, put these glasses on your glasses, so you can see it.

RAZ: (Groaning).

THOMAS: Stay still. I'll help you.

RAZ: I got it. I got it.

THOMAS: They look a little crooked.

RAZ: (Groaning) OK, let's see here. P.S.S., the sensei of this class will be the Karate Kickn' Cockroach. Mindy, the Karate Kickn' Cockroach?

THOMAS: Now I just need to squeeze yourself into this thorax and then put on this abdomen like a pair of pants.

RAZ: Mindy, the last time you put me into an abdomen and thorax, I became the victim of an exploding ant.

THOMAS: Well, I can assure you there will be no exploding ants this time, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Whew.

THOMAS: Only a bunch of ferocious wasps.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: This is not your run-of-the-mill karate class?

RAZ: Why can't we ever just do a run-of-the-mill anything?

THOMAS: And the final addition to your cockroach costume, the head. Stand still. I just need to adjust your antennas. Just stop wiggling. I'm trying to fix it. There we go.

RAZ: This cockroach suit is pinching me.

THOMAS: OK, I can fix that. Just going to give you a little shake here. Shake him up, shake him up, shake him up, shake him up, shake him up, shake him up, shake him up, shake him up, shake him - there. That should be all better.

RAZ: You know, I'm feeling surprisingly comfortable now, almost cozy.

THOMAS: Cozy as a cockroach in a cupcake. Well, you ready to kick it?

RAZ: Like a Karate Kickn' Cockroach. Actually, on second thought...

THOMAS: No time for second thoughts, Guy Raz. A wise, old owl once told me that being early is on time and that being on time is late.

RAZ: Again, that wise, old owl was me.

THOMAS: After you. Waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle. Opening the door.

RAZ: I really hope we don't run into any neighbors dressed like this.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dennis) Morning, Guy. Morning, Mindy. Oh, no. What are you wearing? You can't go around like that. What will the neighbors think? I mean, what will I think? I'll tell you what I think.

THOMAS: Love you, too, Dennis.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dennis) I think it looks like you forgot to look in the mirror today.

RAZ: Just keep walking. Just keep walking. Mindy, did you tell you Reggie when we needed him to pick us up?

THOMAS: Oh, Reggie's in New York City's Central Park at a family reunion.

RAZ: Man, with all the pigeons there, that must be a giant family reunion.

THOMAS: Let's walk and talk, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Well, Mindy, we can't walk down the street dressed like giant cockroaches.

THOMAS: Sure we can. Look out, world. Here we come.


THOMAS: Well, looks like we're cleared for takeoff.

RAZ: How do I let her rope me into these things?

THOMAS: Waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle.

OK, we've been walking a while now. Thought we'd be there. This place was only, like, 2 1/2 centimeters from us on the map.

RAZ: Mindy, when are we going to get to this karate studio?

THOMAS: Hey, Guy Raz, did you know that a cockroach can live for a whole week without its head?

RAZ: Huh?

THOMAS: Yeah. It's because they don't need their heads or mouths to breathe. Instead, they breathe through these tiny, little holes in their bodies.

RAZ: Huh. So then what causes them to eventually die.

THOMAS: Thirst. They die of thirst. You see, cockroaches need their mouths to drink water. And bodies without mouth holes can't get any.

RAZ: Oh, yeah.

THOMAS: Hey, Guy Raz, did you know that a one-day-old baby cockroach the size of a speck of dust can run as fast as its parents, which is 3 miles an hour?

RAZ: Really? On those tiny legs?

THOMAS: Speaking of legs, did you know that cockroaches have 18 knees?

RAZ: Huh. Six legs, three joints on each leg.

THOMAS: Hey, Guy Raz, did you know that a cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes? Did you know that ancient cockroaches were living at the same time as dinosaurs? Did you know that in some parts of the world, you can buy deep-fried cockroaches on a stick and eat them as a snack?

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Did you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds?

RAZ: Mindy, where's this all going?

THOMAS: We're here.

RAZ: I will not take one more step in this hot and steamy cockroach suit - wait. Wait. Did you say we're here?

THOMAS: Well, if standing in front of a storefront with a sign that says Kickn' Cockroach Karate means we're here, then I'm pretty sure this is the place.

RAZ: Karate.

THOMAS: Karate.

RAZ: Karate. Mindy, I'm no Webster's dictionary, but I'm pretty sure that karate is not spelled carrot-tay.

THOMAS: C-A-R-R-O-T-T-A-Y. Carrot-tay. Well, that just must mean that this is an unaccredited karate school.

RAZ: Well, it is taught by a cockroach.

THOMAS: You know it. Come on. Let's go inside.

RAZ: Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

THOMAS: Hello?

RAZ: Mindy, where is everyone?

JESSICA RUSSO REVAND: (As Sharon) Greetings. Greetings, my cockroach friends. I see we have our first students.

THOMAS: Yeah, you know, we're just couple of real cockroaches hoping to learn some karate.

RUSSO: (As Sharon) Well, you've come to the right place. In this class, you will be instructed by an unlicensed and unprofessional cockroach.

RAZ: Wait. Did she just say...


RUSSO: (As Sharon) And it all happens in our state-of-the-ark (ph) facility.

THOMAS: Sounds good to to me.

RUSSO: (As Sharon) Before we start the class, I'll just need you to sign a few forms.

RAZ: Let me see these forms. (Reading) This class may result in wasp stings, zombification, diarrhea.

THOMAS: Well, sign me up.

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: Where do you want my autograph?

RUSSO: (As Sharon) Right here and here and over here and here and here and here.

THOMAS: I'm sorry. I just can't use a pen when all I got are these cockroach feet for hands.

RUSSO: (As Sharon) Allow me to sign for you.

RAZ: Mindy, do you think this is a good idea?

THOMAS: Yes, of course I don't think this is a good idea, Guy Raz.

RUSSO: (As Sharon) There we go. All signed. Now before I introduce you to your sensei, I'm going to have you watch a brief video.

THOMAS: Ooh, a brief video. Ooh la la.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Are you a cockroach?

RAZ: No.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockrach) Are you a cockroach sick and tired of being stung by jewel wasps, zombified and then fed to little wasp babies?

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Yes. If one more jewel wasp tries to turn me into a zombie, I'm going to - I'm probably not going to do anything because I will be baby wasp food at that point.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Then you've come to the right place. Here at Kickn' Cockroach Karate, we make a sandwich out of the latest scientific research and awesome moves. Hi-ya. Moves that'll help you break your brains free from the clutches of the evil jewel wasp. Ki-ya.

RAZ: Mindy, are you sure this is a karate class? I mean, zombies, wasps, scientific research?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Hi-ya.

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. So when a jewel wasp finds a cockroach, it'll swoop in and sting the cockroach in two places - one sting in its lower abdomen to paralyze or basically freeze its front legs and one sting to its brain.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: And with that sting, Guy Raz, comes an injection of poisonous venom - a venomous sting that turns that cockroach into a zombie, basically.

RAZ: And once that happens, the wasp is able to control the cockroach.

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. And at that point, the wasp grabs the zombie cockroach by the antennas, drags it into a hole like a dog on a leash. And there, the wasp lays an egg on the Cockroach. When that egg hatches, the larva burrows its way down into the cockroach. And when it's done, it pops back out of the cockroach as a full-grown wasp. Ta-da

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) But scientific research has shown us cockroaches that there is a better way. And that's what we're going to learn today in Kickn' Cockroach Karate. Hi-ya.

RAZ: Scientific research?

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. So I was just reading this amazing, new study conducted by a scientist named Dr. Kenneth Catania. He's a biologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

RAZ: And what was the study?

THOMAS: Well Dr. Catania wanted to see up close what, if anything, cockroaches do when faced with the zombifying jewel wasp.

RAZ: And how did he do the experiment?

THOMAS: Well, he took some jewel wasps and some cockroaches. And he put them together in this fancy, clear, scientific shoe box, basically.

RAZ: Huh.

THOMAS: And then he took a bunch of high-speed video. Once he captured all the video, he watched it play back in slo-mo.

RAZ: And what did he discover?

THOMAS: He discovered that...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Hi-ya.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Hi-ya. The Kickn' Karate Cockroach is in the house.

RAZ: Mindy, something tells me he's not a real cockroach.

THOMAS: What? Just because he can talk and wear gym socks and has a price tag stuck to his head - is that costume?

RAZ: Among other things, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) In this class, we are going to learn the fine art of karate kickin'. Hi-ya. Our way to freedom. Can I get an oh, yeah?

RAZ: Oh, no.

THOMAS: Oh, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Nice. Step one, stilt standing. As the wasp approaches - (clearing throat) as the wasp approaches. Sharon (ph), I mean, come on. The wasp approaches.

RUSSO: (As Sharon) I'm a wasp, and I want to sting your brains.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Oh, Sharon, you're an amazing wasp.

RAZ: Wait. Isn't that wasp the same person who...

THOMAS: Shh. She's a real wasp. Just go with it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) As the wasp approaches, you rise up, turn your body away from the wasp but your antennae towards the wasp. Lift up one of your hind legs and let the wasp know - hi-ya - that you mean business.

RAZ: Mindy, there are no wasps in this class. There are no other students. Mindy, how much did you pay for this lesson?

THOMAS: Shh. This is the best part.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Step two, with your body positioned away from the wasp, wait for the wasp to approach. Sharon, approach. And just as it gets ready to attack, use your spiky, barbed-wire-like back legs to deliver a hearty kick to the wasp's head. Keep on kicking for at least three minutes.

RAZ: Please don't kick that wasp. That wasp is a person in a wasp suit. I can tell by her shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Of course I'm not going to kick this wasp. We here at Kickn' Cockroach Karate practice peaceful alternatives to working out our differences. Namaste.

RAZ: OK. OK. So why are we here again?

THOMAS: I got this, Guy Raz. Excuse me. Excuse me, Mr. Sensei.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) 'Sup, my young padawan?

THOMAS: Why would the wasp just hang around while you kicked it in the head for three minutes. I mean, I would just get up and fly away. But, you know, that's just me. So...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Oh, my young protege. After this class, your cockroach kicks will be so fast, so ferocious, so fast that a wasp wouldn't be able to escape it if it tried. I mean, at least 63 percent of the time, according to this new scientific research.

RAZ: OK. Well, then step three?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Step three, at this point, of course, you're going to have wasp guts stuck all the spines of your roachy little legs. Now, what you're going to do is you're going to use the spines of your other legs - the ones that don't have guts on them - to rake them free of wasp debris. Do you get it? I'm making it rhyme, so it helps your brain.

THOMAS: (Singing) I'm raking up these wasp guts off of me.

RAZ: Mindy.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Step four, once you've finished raking that wasp off your legs, you're going to hold the wasp away from you in a stiff-arm stance and take a big bite out of its abdomen.

RAZ: What?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Which we're not going to do in this class, as we are uninsured and peace-loving citizens of the insect community. Seriously, I wouldn't hurt a fly. You can ask Sharon. She will attest. Sharon, right? But never bite.

RAZ: Whew.

THOMAS: OK, so what's step five, the fifth and final step?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Step five? Step five? You make it out alive. Class dismissed. That'll be 75 bucks per cockroach, plus tax.

RAZ: Seventy-five...

THOMAS: I got this, Guy Raz. Let's see here - 75 plus 75. Here's $150 in cold, hard, certified and licensed counterfeit cash.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Awesome. Counterfeit - fit for a counter.

THOMAS: See you at the next intrusion.

RAZ: The what?

THOMAS: An intrusion is what you call a group of cockroaches.

RAZ: Oh, right. So I'm confused. Did we earn a black belt or what?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Karate Cockroach) Hey, stop those cockroaches. Counterfeit means fake. I didn't know that.

RUSSO: (As Sharon) I bet you're not even real cockroaches.

THOMAS: We got to run, cockroach style. Scurry, scurry, scurry, scurry, scurry, scurry, scurry.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: WOW IN THE WORLD will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you. That's it. Back to the show.


THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world.


THOMAS: Hi. Thanks for calling WOW IN THE WORLD. After the beep, get ready to record.


ELLIOT: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Elliot (ph), and I live in Silver Spring, Md. My wow in the world is that water bears are microscopic animals that live in moss. They can survive extreme climate changes and have even been into space. Say hi to Reggie for me.


FIONA: Hi. My name's Fiona (ph), and I live in Marshall, N.C. And my wow in the world is that a long, long time ago there was a species of the zebra called the quagga, and it looked half-horse and half-zebra. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz.


DALIA: Hi, Mindy. Hi, Guy Raz. My name is Dalia (ph) from Chicago, Ill. My wow in the world is that some scientists think the sun may have a sibling because in other solar systems, they have two suns. I love the Reggie music. Bye, Mindy. Bye, Guy Raz.


NATHAN: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Nathan (ph). I live in Fort Worth, Texas. Did you know that there is a venomous caterpillar called the furry puss? It has spines under its fur. If you pick it up or touch it, you could be injected with venom. That's my wow in the world. Bye.


ELLA: Hi. My name's Ella (ph). I'm from Milaca, Minn. My well in the world is that when you mix vinegar and baking soda, it makes visible carbon dioxide. Thanks. Bye.


JULIA SPELMAN: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Julia Spelman (ph), and I live in Dallas, Texas. My wow is that an octopus has six arms and two legs, not eight arms. Bye.


CAMILA: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Camila (ph), and I live in Arlington, Va. My wow in the world is that Puerto Rico has the only tropical rainforest and North America. Bye.


DOROTHEA COOK: My name is Dorothea Cook (ph). I live in Montclair, N.J. And my wow in the world is that 9 percent of the world are left-handed with two right-handed parents.


ELEANOR: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name's Eleanor (ph). I live in San Francisco. And my wow in the world is that, once upon a time, we didn't exist, and neither did the world. Bye. I love your podcast.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: End of messages.

THOMAS: Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for hanging out with us this week on WOW IN THE WORLD.

RAZ: And to keep the wow rolling, check out this week's scientific conversation starters at our website

THOMAS: And grown-ups, there, you can find more info on how your kids can become members of the World Organization of Wowzers, shop our Wow Shop, upload photos and videos to us and check dates for our upcoming live events. That's

RAZ: Our show is produced by Jed Anderson.

THOMAS: Who provides the bells, whistles and silly characters. Say hello, Jed.


THOMAS: Our show is written by me, Guy Raz and Thomas van Kalken, who also provides silly characters. The role of Sharon the wasp lady was played by Dr. Jessica Russo Revand. Thanks, Jess.

RAZ: Thanks also to Jessica Boddy, Casey Koeffer, Rebecca Caban, Kit Ballenger and Alex Curley. Meredith Halpern-Ranzer powers the wow at Tinkercast.

THOMAS: Or theme song was composed and performed by The Pop Ups. For more info on their two-time Grammy-nominated, all-ages music, find them at

RAZ: And, grown-ups, you can follow WOW IN THE WORLD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @wowintheworld. And our email address is

THOMAS: And if you're a kid with a big wow to share with us, call us at 1-888-7-WOW-WOW for a chance to be featured at the end of the show.

RAZ: Also if you haven't already done so, please subscribe to WOW IN THE WORLD on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

THOMAS: Yeah. Leave us a few stars, a review or just tell a friend about the show.

RAZ: Thanks again for listening. And until next time...




THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world, wow in the world, wow in the world, wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: WOW IN THE WORLD was made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

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