Brian Cox plays Not My Job on NPR's 'Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!' Brian Cox is one of the world's most celebrated actors, and is currently perfecting the art of swearing as Logan Roy on HBO's Succession. Naturally, we asked three questions about vacuums cleaners.

'Wait Wait' for Jan. 22, 2022: With Not My Job guest Brian Cox

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON, BYLINE: The following program was taped before an audience of no one.


BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. You can keep your creminis. It's time for a porto-Bill-o (ph) - Bill Kurtis. And here is your host. Give me a P. Give me an et cetera. It's Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. We are very excited because later on, we're going to be talking to actor Brian Cox, who plays Logan Roy on HBO's "Succession." The character has become legendary for his catchphrase, F off. And we have taken bets on how quickly we can get him to say it to us. But first, we want to see if you can provoke us, so give us a call. The number is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Let's welcome our first listener contestant.

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

MARGIE STRICKLAND: Hi. This is Margie Strickland (ph). I'm calling from Cary, N.C.

SAGAL: Well, that's awesome. Where is Cary, N.C.? I'm not quite sure.

STRICKLAND: Right outside of Durham.

SAGAL: Oh, OK. You're in sort of the - what do they call it there? The Research Triangle, the Golden Triangle? No, that's where they make the heroin. Research Triangle - that's it. OK.


STRICKLAND: Research Triangle.

SAGAL: Always getting me confused. And what do you do there?

STRICKLAND: I work as an undergraduate admissions officer at Duke University.

SAGAL: Oh, my gosh. You are an undergraduate admissions officer, getting people into Duke.

STRICKLAND: That's right.

SAGAL: Now, I say this not on my own behalf, but on my many friends I know who very enjoy disliking Duke. So is part of your job making sure that they are unpleasant enough to thrive at Duke?

STRICKLAND: (Laughter) That's one of the criteria. Yes.

SAGAL: Of course it is. Of course it is. There you go, guys.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Margie. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First up, it's the comedian who is taping her second Netflix stand-up special on February 12 in Los Angeles. It's Cristela Alonzo.



SAGAL: Did you just cheer for yourself, Cristela?

ALONZO: Look, I'm in a closet right now. Yes, I did.

SAGAL: OK. All right. OK. It's fine.

MO ROCCA: It's a survival mechanism. I love it.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Next, it's a correspondent for CBS "Sunday Morning" and host of "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" Saturdays on CBS. It's Mo Rocca.


ROCCA: Go Mo. Go Mo. Go Mo. Go Mo.


ROCCA: Oh, hi, Margie.

SAGAL: And her new comedy album, "Paula Poundstone Goes To College (For One Night)" is out, and her podcast is "Nobody Listens To Paula Poundstone." It's Paula Poundstone.




SAGAL: Margie, welcome to the show. You're going to play Who's Bill This Time? Bill Kurtis is going to read you three quotations from this week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain just two of them, you will win our prize - any voice from our show you may choose in your voicemail. You ready to play?

POUNDSTONE: Absolutely.

SAGAL: All right. Let's do it, then. Here's your first quote.

KURTIS: Oh, yeah - four free tests, one for each home, baby.

SAGAL: That was Meredith Dietz, a staff writer for Lifehacker, talking about the government's plan to send everyone four free tests for what?



SAGAL: Exactly.


SAGAL: The Biden administration announced they will send four rapid COVID tests to anybody who needs them the moment they need them, so everybody check your mailboxes in May of 2020.

People were amazed to get this news. The government was actually working - every single text thread and email chain and everybody on it spreading the news almost as fast as they were spreading COVID to each other. Better yet, the tests were specially formulated for omicron variant. They come with the two lines already printed on them because we know we all have it.

ROCCA: And it's with a self-addressed, stamped envelope? I mean, how does this work?

SAGAL: You just...

ROCCA: My mother was asking me because she loves that it's free. I said, this sounds like a hassle. And she said, but it's free.

SAGAL: It's free.

ROCCA: It's free.

SAGAL: Yes. Apparently, you just go to a government website, and you just put in your name and address. Apparently, though, one problem was the system couldn't tell the difference between people's apartments with the same street address 'cause it's one - you know, four tests per household or four tests per giant apartment building with 500 units. So everybody there had to multiple use the swabs - like, one per wing. It was great.

ROCCA: Can I just say I live in an apartment building, and I am not about to tangle with Norma (ph) in 6J? I mean, she has been in this building for decades. She will cut me if I try to take that test.

SAGAL: Really? Oh, no. Biden - the Biden administration is also going to be distributing 400 million free N95 masks, but all of them are going to that one lady at the grocery store who is always wearing three of them.

POUNDSTONE: What I don't understand with the free masks is that you have to go inside a place to get them, like a pharmacy. But what if you're not wearing a mask to pick up the masks?

SAGAL: Well, you trade up. You're wearing an inadequate mask, and then you get your N95.

POUNDSTONE: Maybe. Maybe. I think the whole thing that I have to walk somewhere - because I'm walking for the dramatic effect - to get the masks is kind of crazy. You know what I'm doing? I'm wearing - my whole house has a mask. I just don't leave. That's what I do.

ROCCA: It's your H-95.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. That's right. Exactly.

ALONZO: (Laughter) H-95.

ROCCA: Can I ask - I have something to say to Margie because...

POUNDSTONE: Go ahead. Go ahead.

ROCCA: ...She's here. I think that if you can spell Krzyzewski, you should get into Duke automatically.

STRICKLAND: Agreed. Yes. That's...

SAGAL: That's the entrance exam. All right, Margie, here is your next quote.

KURTIS: So glad I voted no on this jerk.

SAGAL: That was former Senator Claire McCaskill responding to news that Justice Neil Gorsuch refuses to do what when he's seated on the bench at the Supreme Court?

STRICKLAND: Wear a mask for Sotomayor.

SAGAL: Exactly right.


SAGAL: Wear a mask. Every other justice wears a mask on the bench, but Justice Gorsuch refuses, so Justice Sotomayor has to work from home because she is immunocompromised. You have to love Gorsuch, a guy who has no problem wearing, like, a Hogwarts robe to work, but he draws the line at a mask. Now, if you don't remember Justice Neil Gorsuch, you may know him better as Justice Not Merrick Garland.

ROCCA: Well, hold on a second. Maybe there was a mix-up, and Merrick Garland ended up getting Neil Gorsuch's mask in the mail.

SAGAL: That's possible.

ROCCA: And so he didn't have one.

SAGAL: Everybody confuses them. Now, the reason this sort of thing happens, of course, is because of the way we select justices. Because of the traditions of judicial restraint, you can't ask them at the hearings, what do you think about abortion, or, are you a jackass?

Did you guys follow the somewhat significant kerfuffle about this because this came from a report from NPR's own Nina Totenberg, in which we learned that the Supreme Court is basically "Real Housewives" of Capitol Hill? And it really does seem like a reality show, all these dysfunctional people trapped inside together. My favorite part of any Supreme Court case these days are the judges' introductions at the start when they come in - you know, hear ye, ye, all rise. John Roberts stands up and says, I'm the ultimate Southern belle, and I get what I want. And then Brett Kavanaugh goes, I'm a straight-up mess.


SAGAL: Now, I got to say, if you haven't seen the entirety of Nina's report, in which this mask thing was just a part, you have to read it or hear it because - all right, so obviously, the liberals hate the conservatives. But the conservatives hate each other, right? They're like - they're constantly...

ROCCA: Is that right?

SAGAL: Yeah. They don't like each other because they each, like, believe that they should be, like, the lead conservative on the court. It's like - it's an absolute - you know, it's like...

POUNDSTONE: It's like the Marvel movies when all the superheroes are there, but they're not working as a team.

SAGAL: Right. Exactly. And then, like, Thanos has to attack so they can all sort of bind together.

POUNDSTONE: Well, it sounds like there's, like, four Thanos, though. Like (laughter)...

SAGAL: Yeah. Yeah. Basically. Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: There are four Thanos, like, right now. Like, man, everybody's wearing a glove? Like, everyone's got one. Yeah. How many stones do we need? Everyone's got one.

SAGAL: All right. Here is your last quote.

KURTIS: I enjoy being a hype woman for my friends.

SAGAL: That was a candy mascot talking about her fresh new perspective. She's one of the newly redesigned mascots for what candy?



SAGAL: M&M's, right.


SAGAL: They have redesigned the M&M mascots, not the candy. You know, those are the same they've always been - colored lumps, voicelessly pleading not to be eaten. No, we are talking about the anthropomorphic M&M characters in the commercials, those candies with hands and legs and faces. Now, this may come as a shock to the ones of people who care about this, but the company has reconceived the appearances and personalities of these mascots because it is time to, quote, "throw shine, not shade" and to spotlight a, quote, "more dynamic, progressive world" and, quote, "it's time for us to do what we have been doing, and that time is every day." Well, that last one was actually Kamala Harris, but really, who can tell?


ROCCA: Well, first of all, they're not mascots. They're spokescandies (ph), thank you very much, and thank you.


ROCCA: It really was about their footwear. And I believe it's brown's - brown now has shorter heels. Green has sneakers. My favorite - I love blue's shoes. They're kind of like nurse's footwear. They're kind of like nurse's clogs.

POUNDSTONE: Like service shoes.

ROCCA: And I would - believe me, there are a lot of things that could be worse than having blue as your home health aide at the end of your life, having an M&M carting you around.

SAGAL: Really?

ROCCA: I would love that.

SAGAL: That would be heartwarming.

ROCCA: If you had to have one.

POUNDSTONE: You know what's really tragic in all of this is that teams of people worked on this, maybe for years but certainly for months. Teams of people - they were employed to do it. They had - sometimes they had to work over the weekend. Sometime - you know, some guy's kids wanted to play with him, and the dad had to go, honey, I can't. I'm working on this M&M campaign. And they submitted one thing, and they said, no, the boots are wrong. And no one cares because it doesn't matter. It's stupid.

ROCCA: Teams have got to work on them, and they still don't have hips. That's the crazy thing, too. I mean, the way that - it looks so uncomfortable because they just have these torsos, and the limbs just pop out.

ALONZO: I'm just mad, as a diabetic, that one's not diabetic (laughter).

POUNDSTONE: Oh, that would be a great idea.

ALONZO: Right?

SAGAL: That would be hilarious.

POUNDSTONE: I have eaten myself too much. I can't do this anymore (laughter).

SAGAL: No. It would be like, one of them is, like, looking at the others and going, get away from me.

POUNDSTONE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right. Bill, how did Margie do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Margie's perfect - got a perfect score from Duke.

POUNDSTONE: I thought so.

SAGAL: Congratulations. This is...

STRICKLAND: (Cheering).

SAGAL: Maybe now that you've done well, you can get into Duke.

POUNDSTONE: (Laughter).

STRICKLAND: Thanks so much, guys.

SAGAL: Take care. Bye-bye.

POUNDSTONE: All right. Thank you.

ROCCA: Bye, Margie.


SAGAL: Right now, panel, it is time for you to answer some questions about the week's news. Paula, President Biden has had a tough first year in the White House, we know, but this week he accomplished something remarkable - a new historic record for any president. What is it?

POUNDSTONE: The longest press conference.

SAGAL: That's right, Paula.


SAGAL: On Wednesday, President Biden held a press conference and spoke for one hour and 51 minutes, setting a record for presidential press conferences. Who imagined that Joe Biden would talk more than any other president in history? Wait a minute. Yes, I'm being told everybody. Everybody imagined that. He actually wore out the reporters. The last three questions for him were all, Mr. President, can we go home?


POUNDSTONE: And Doocy asked it twice.


SAGAL: Exactly.

POUNDSTONE: He didn't understand the answer the first time. Oh, so we can? Let me make that - can I just ask you another way?

ROCCA: So it was long, but it didn't bill.

SAGAL: Yeah. It didn't have a lot of structure. It didn't have a lot of structure. I mean, for example - I don't know this. I mean, I've been watching these things for a while. I'm no expert. Is it normal at a presidential press conference for the orchestra to try to play him off in the middle of an answer?


SAGAL: Coming up, it's a neighborly Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.


KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Cristela Alonzo, Paula Poundstone and Mo Rocca. And here again is your host. We've just upgraded to 5P (ph). It's Peter Sagal.


SAGAL: Thank you, Bill. Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi. You are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

SEAN KIDD: Fantastic. I'm so glad to be here. I'm Sean Kidd (ph), and just across the lake from you. So if I stand on a real tall sand dune and wave, you might be able to see me.

SAGAL: I'm waving back. I'm waving back. Where - so you're in Michigan. Where are you?

KIDD: I am. I'm in Kalamazoo.

SAGAL: Oh, I love Kalamazoo. I've been there once or twice. It's really lovely there. What do you do there?

KIDD: I am a United Methodist pastor here.

SAGAL: Oh, wow. OK. Now, I have to admit, I'm not that familiar with the various, I don't know, divisions in the Protestant church.

KIDD: Right.

SAGAL: So United Methodist...

ROCCA: Where is your religion in the playoffs right now?


SAGAL: Exactly.

KIDD: (Laughter) Oh, you know, we're hurting a little bit over here.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Well, welcome to the show, Sean. It is nice to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you must tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Sean's topic?

KURTIS: Good fences make good neighbors.

SAGAL: Usually, disputes between neighbors can be resolved with a simple conversation or a little arson. But this week we heard about a problem with the neighbors that got out of hand. Our panel is going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you will win our prize, the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

KIDD: I am.

SAGAL: All right. Well, first, then, let us hear from Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: The house at 522 Cold Rain Circle (ph) in the almost fairy-tale neighborhood in Sammamish, Wash., sold quickly to the Settage (ph) family a year ago. And why not? Their neighbors were an older couple who had raised a big family there. They were lovely.

Within months, the Settages were calling the cops on their neighbors and petitioning for stricter zoning laws. They had 13 kids, says John Settage (ph), and every one of them got married and remarried in their backyard. They sometimes have two weddings a weekend. They have a Beatles tribute band on salary. Susan (ph) went on, John and I had a fight during their son Angus's (ph) vows. Right in the middle of our journey of love will never end, the whole wedding party could hear me scream, don't you touch me.

We were patient with the manure smell from the brides that arrived on six white horses, but the rose petals fired from cannons at the sunrise wedding and the F-16 jet flyovers were too much. We thought we were under attack until we heard the reggae version of "Sunrise Sunset." That's when we called the police.

SAGAL: A neighbor gets really upset had all the joy and love and happiness at all the weddings in their neighbors' backyard. Your next story of a neighborly menace comes from Cristela Alonzo.

ALONZO: Can't sleep? Try counting toilet flushes, which is what a couple in the Italian town of La Spezia did because the four brothers who owned the apartment next door installed their toilet directly on the other side of the wall from the couple's bed. So naturally, they took the brothers next door to court. And just this week, 19 years later, they finally got a judgment in their favor. The Supreme Court of Italy has ruled that the noise of a toilet when you're trying to sleep is a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. But why did it take 19 years? Because Italian courts both are forced to take any case that comes to them, and also the judges are busy with passionate affairs and gesturing with their hands.

SAGAL: An Italian dispute between neighbors takes 19 years to be finally found a human rights violation by the Italian Supreme Court. Your last story of a problem next door comes from Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: It's no secret that brick-and-mortar retail has been fighting a losing battle with online shopping. And some of the biggest casualties have been mannequins. Joy Sims (ph) of Little Rock decided that these stoic soldiers of consumer culture past deserved a proper send off, and so she turned her yard into a burial ground for mannequins.

Soon enough, boxes were arriving from across the country, and Sims got ordained. A mannequin from Manhattan's chic Bendel's boutique was buried after a short, discreet service, the mourners in all black with sunglasses driven away in limos. But when a pair of mannequins from New Orleans' Maison Blanche department store were laid to rest after a raucous procession of jazz musicians paraded through the neighborhood, the mannequins carried by horse-drawn carriage, neighbors began complaining.

The final straw - when a mannequin from the Indian-owned Max Fashion in Denver arrived. Says neighbor Evan Shield (ph), when Joy built a giant funeral pyre in her backyard and set it on fire for the cremation of that mannequin, I said, enough. But Joy Sims isn't backing down. Sir, hate has no home here. My yard is a sacred resting place for mannequins of all faiths.

SAGAL: All right. So there was a neighborly dispute in the news. Which was it? From Paula Poundstone, neighbors in California getting upset with their neighbors for constantly throwing weddings; from Cristela Alonzo, a dispute between neighbors in Italy that went all the way to the Italian Supreme Court, where they decided that a flushing toilet on the other side of a wall was a human rights violation; or from Mo, a mannequin burial ground in Little Rock that caused a lot of consternation to the neighbors. Which of these was the real story of a dispute between neighbors in the news?

KIDD: Well, as much as I love weddings and funerals as a pastor, I think that both of those sounds a little outlandish. So I am going to go with the middle one. I'm going to go with No. 2.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Cristela's story of the Italian dispute with the toilet on the other side of the bedroom wall reaching the Supreme Court. That's your choice. Well, we spoke to a reporter who covered the real story and brought it to our attention.

MARISA IATI: They cited basic rights that all people have, and one of them is being able to sleep uninterrupted by the sound of a toilet.

SAGAL: That was Marisa Iati. She is The Washington Post writer who reported on the Italian toilet and the human rights violation. Congratulations. You got it right.


KIDD: Hey, thanks so much.

SAGAL: You earned a point for Cristela simply for telling a true story. Well, and you have won our game and our prize, the voice of anyone you may choose on your voicemail. Congratulations.

KIDD: Thanks so much. How great. It's been a lot of fun. Thank you.

SAGAL: It's been fun to have you. See over coffee this Sunday.

KIDD: See you there, Peter.


WAR: (Singing) Why can't we be friends? Why can't we be friends? Why can't we be friends?

SAGAL: And now the game where people who spend decades honing their talents are asked to try something that utilizes none of them. It's called Not My Job. Brian Cox is British theater royalty with leading roles at the National Theatre and the RSC Broadway and in the West End. But the reason we are both very excited and a little scared to have him on with us today is his starring role as billionaire patriarch Logan Roy on HBO's "Succession." He's got a new memoir of his life and career called "Putting The Rabbit In The Hat." And he joins us now.

Brian Cox, Welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.


BRIAN COX: It's a pleasure to be there. It's a program that I listened to when I first came to America many, many years ago, and I was very reassured by it.

SAGAL: Yes, I know. We - just like a little taste of the U.K. here, even though we're not nearly as good as the equivalent radio shows in the U.K.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: I loved your book a lot.

COX: Thank you.

SAGAL: It is amazing. One of the best stories, actually, I found was the story of your own first wedding...

COX: Oh, yeah.

SAGAL: ...Which happened, I guess - was the back at the theater in Dundee where you grew up?

COX: No, no, no. It was at Birmingham Rep. I was at Birmingham Rep, and I was doing - it was a time - you couldn't do it now. It was a time - Michael Gambon, the actor Michael Gambon...


COX: ...Old, old friend of mine - was playing Othello, and I was playing Iago.

SAGAL: So this is your friend, Michael Gambon, who we know - he plays Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" movies.

COX: Absolutely. And on my wedding day, I had my wedding in the morning. I had a matinee of "Othello" in the afternoon and an evening performance of "Romeo And Juliet" with me playing with Mercutio. Anyway...

SAGAL: I just want to stop you there. You have a two-performance day.

COX: Yeah.

SAGAL: And in the theater, that's not typical. It's usually one or two days a week where you do that. And you decide that you're going to get married on the morning of one of those days.

COX: Well, it was a Saturday.


SAGAL: Oh, OK, then. Well, go on. Now it makes perfect sense.


POUNDSTONE: It's a flash dance schedule.


SAGAL: Right. All right. So anyway, I'm sorry. I interrupt. So it's decided to do it the morning of your two-day show matinee of "Othello," evening performance "Romeo and Juliet." And what? And how did it go?

COX: So it turned out most of the company got drunk apart from me. And I was treating everybody out, trying to get everybody to get, you know, get over to the theater because we had a matinee. But anyway, I moved the door. I was trying to close up, and then behind this door was sitting Michael Gambon. And he hadn't moved. And he had to get to the theater, and I had to get him there. So - and he was quite inebriated (laughter). So anyway, finally, I got him to the theater and he was basically trying to dress himself. And he kept - he was putting on these trousers with suspenders. And he kept peeing in them accidentally and hitting himself on the back. And he thought he was being assaulted from something above. But it was actually him doing it. I mean, it was one actor who actually fell over in the first scene and remained there for the entire play because he was so drunk. He was out of it. They were all drunk. It was outrageous.


SAGAL: That's...

ROCCA: And how - and can I ask, how were the reviews for the wedding?


COX: The reviews - the wedding reviews were quite good. I mean, everybody loved the wedding. And we were all very civilized until we got on stage, and then mayhem reigned.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: It was either - it sounds like either the very worst or the very best performance of that play.

COX: Well, it was probably the worst performance of that. But actually, there was an actor who was - it was actually an actress who was in who said, this was a shameful afternoon, and I think I'm going to complain to (unintelligible).


COX: But she also was drunk.



SAGAL: I would - I want you - I would have you tell these stories all day, but apparently you're doing this rather good television program people are very interested in...

COX: Yes.

SAGAL: ...Including myself. It is astonishing and great. And you get to play one of those very rare but wonderful characters, a character who more or less gets to do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it...

COX: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...Which must - I mean, which must be great.

COX: It is good. I mean, you've got to invest a bit more because you want a bit of comeback because it's either too easy - you know, it all goes swimmingly, what have you. So there's this sort of - you know, the thing about Logan is - and it went right back to Jesse Armstrong, who is our creator and showrunner.

SAGAL: Yeah.

COX: I said, does Logan love his children? And because I'm not seeing much of that. And he said, no.


COX: He really loves his children. So you realize that the man doesn't express love at all. You know, and his kids are rapidly becoming a huge, massive disappointment to him (laughter).

ROCCA: May I ask a question? And please don't censor yourself. If Logan Roy had a public radio show, what would the name of it be?


COX: It would probably be called [expletive].

ROCCA: With Logan Roy.

SAGAL: With Logan Roy.

COX: With Logan Roy.


SAGAL: One of the things - we've heard that, for example, actors of - on "The Sopranos" were occasionally contacted by people who either were or knew people in the mafia. This show has been a sensation. It's at its third season now over, I think, four years. Have you or anybody associated heard from one of the families or people - I'm thinking, obviously, the Murdochs or people like that.

COX: Well, I live in Primrose Hill in London, which is a lovely area of London, Regent's Park. And I was in my local cafe ordering my latte. And there was this gentleman behind me, sort of bearded gentleman, big fella. And he was saying, well, yes, well, you know, we're liking it. We are on the whole liking it. And I went, what? The show, your show. We are on the whole liking it. I said, oh, you're - on the whole you're liking. He said, oh, yes, yes, no, no. No, it's well done. Oh, God, it's well done. We have to - my wife finds it difficult sometimes, but really, she's liking it. I said well, I'm glad your wife is liking it. I said, why is she finding it difficult? Oh, well, it's hard for her. And I said, why is it hard? Well, she's Elisabeth Murdoch.



COX: And I went, oh, oh, really? I said, ah, OK, yeah. And then his parting remark to me was, could you be a little kinder to your daughter next season?


SAGAL: That is remarkable. I am having too much fun, but my duty calls. And it just so happens that, Brian Cox, we have asked you here this time to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Succession? How about a suck session?

SAGAL: We're talking about vacuums.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: I just want to get that out, quickly as possible.

COX: Vacuums.

SAGAL: Vacuums, yes. You're the star of the - HBO's "Succession," which made us realize that every time one uses a vacuum cleaner, it's a suck session, right?

COX: Well, yes, I suppose you could put it that way, yes...


COX: ...If you felt the need.

SAGAL: So, we're going to ask you three questions about vacuum cleaners - I know. Answer two out of three questions correctly, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Brian Cox playing for?

KURTIS: Aaron Brown (ph) of Las Vegas, Nev.

SAGAL: All right. Here is your first question. The vacuum cleaner was invented in 1901 in London by a man named Hubert Booth. But people weren't crazy about the invention at first. Why? A - to buy one, you had to agree that anything that got vacuumed up, he got to keep; B - his vacuum was an enormous machine that he parked in the street in front of your house, and he had to run hoses through your windows to clean your apartment; or C - he insisted on referring to the process of air-based suction cleaning as breaking wind.

COX: I think it's the middle one. I think it's the hoses.

SAGAL: You're exactly right.


SAGAL: It was this enormous contraption.


SAGAL: It was portable. It had - it was on wheels, right?

COX: Yeah.

SAGAL: Yeah.

COX: And he had to sit outside the window, and they had to open the windows. And it was difficult, especially if you went upstairs. You had to - you know, you had to have different sized hoses.

SAGAL: You capture it immediately - your gift of the imagination. Yes, apparently it frightened the horses, as they used to say.

COX: Yes. Yes.


SAGAL: All right. He had more challenges, Mr. Booth did, such as which of these? Once, to test his idea of - the idea of sucking dirt into a filter to trap it, he himself put a handkerchief over his mouth, sucked on an armchair and almost choked to death on the dust; B - a coven of self-described witches claimed to put a curse on him for, quote, "trying to discredit the broomstick"; or C - for his entire career, he couldn't teach anyone to spell vacuum. Does it have two C's? Two U's in a row? That just doesn't sound right?


COX: Well, I'm torn. It's either that, the vacuum, or it's the fact that he put the thing over his mouth...


COX: ...And did it. So I have to decide one of those. I think I'll go for the thing over his mouth.

SAGAL: That's exactly right.


SAGAL: That's what happened.




SAGAL: That's what happened. You're doing very well, as - I would expect no less from a man of your parts. But here is your third and final question. The curator of the Museum of Vacuums in Rolla, Mo., Tom Gasko, and his partner were featured on a 2019 episode of StoryCorps on Morning Edition. What was the touching moment that ended that episode? Was it A - he and his partner said to each other, you suck and you suck, too? B - his partner yelled, I love you, Tom, over the sound of a vacuum cleaner, making Tom go, what? Or C - he asked his partner to vacuum up his ashes into his favorite vacuum after he dies.

COX: I'll go for C.

SAGAL: You're exactly right again.


SAGAL: You understood that there was a human moment there of real beauty.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

POUNDSTONE: Beautiful story.

SAGAL: Bill, how did Brian Cox do on our quiz?

KURTIS: I am shocked. You got them all right, Brian.

COX: Thank you, Bill. Thank you.

SAGAL: Brian Cox's new book is "Putting The Rabbit In The Hat." Brian Cox, thank you so much for being on our show.

COX: Oh, it's been a delight. And thank you for asking me. It's such an honor to do WAIT, WAIT... DON'T TELL ME. I've been a great admirer of it for many, many years.

SAGAL: Oh, you are too kind.

KURTIS: Well, we love it. We love having you. How wonderful.

SAGAL: Thank you so much, sir. A real pleasure. We'll look forward to Season 4. Bye-bye.

COX: Good luck. Enjoy.

ALONZO: (Laughter).



SAGAL: In just a minute, learn how the cat came back in our Listener Limerick challenge, call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT, WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT, WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Paula Poundstone, Cristela Alonzo and Mo Rocca. And here again is your host who, no matter what they say, I think he's great - Peter Sagal.


SAGAL: Thank you, Bill. In just a minute, Bill gives you a rhymedial (ph) education in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Right now, panel, some more questions for you from the week's news. Paula, according to a new study, you are way more attractive when you wear a what?


SAGAL: Yes, exactly right, Paula.


SAGAL: You knew that exactly. People with masks seem more attractive, and now we understand why Neil Gorsuch is widely considered the ugly justice.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Researchers in the U.K. recently released a study showing that both men and women find people more attractive when they're wearing protective masks. That is the No. 2 reason that anti-maskers are having a hard time getting dates, No. 1 being they're all in the hospital.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. Yeah. In fact, I'm going to go a little further. I'm going to cover one eye as well, just assuming that the more I can cover, the more attractive I'll be.

ROCCA: Right. Right. Pirate chic, yeah.

ALONZO: "Phantom Of The Opera."


ROCCA: Well, it depends. I mean, it depends where your best parts are. I mean, I'm not bragging, but I've been told I have a real pretty mouth.


ROCCA: So, I mean, you know, that part of me is only going to make people even more excited.

SAGAL: I didn't know where you were going, Mo, but I did not expect there.


POUNDSTONE: Yeah, you do, Mo.

ROCCA: I'm told that at truck stops, you know?

SAGAL: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.


SAGAL: Anyway, yes...

ROCCA: That's a pretty mouth.

ALONZO: It is weird when you find out that, like, hiding half your face makes you hotter (laughter).


ALONZO: Like, where's that dating site? I need that dating site (laughter).

SAGAL: No, I've really become - I wear my mask all the time. It makes me feel more comfortable. In fact, all this you're seeing on my chin, that's really just mask lint.

ROCCA: That's why I wear an X95.


SAGAL: I wear a XXX95, if you know what I mean, Mo.


SAGAL: Cristela, a Canadian restaurant's indoor dining section was shut down by health services this week after they learned that the restaurant was allowing people to enter after they showed what at the door?


ALONZO: A fake ID card.

SAGAL: Nope.

ALONZO: Oh, man.

SAGAL: I'll give you a hint. It was like, well, I mean, the logic here is, like, well, nobody with an adorable pug like that could be infectious, right?

ALONZO: A picture of their pet?

SAGAL: Exactly.


SAGAL: Specifically their dogs.

ALONZO: What? What?

POUNDSTONE: After receiving a tip about the restaurant's unorthodox screening procedure, two undercover inspectors from the Department of Health approached the entrance at different times, and when asked for their proof of vaccination, they just presented a photo of their dog. The staffer of the restaurant then held up an iPad to scan it as if it were a QR code, or more like a Q-arf (ph) code, according to someone who was just fired from this show.


ROCCA: What if your Chihuahua is named Moderna? And so you show...

SAGAL: That's...

ROCCA: ...Moderna.

SAGAL: This is a Moderna, and this little cute guy is Booster.


POUNDSTONE: Wow. I'll bet it was only one kind of dog.

SAGAL: What kind of dog do you think it was?

POUNDSTONE: People really like those goldendoodles now. I'll bet it was a goldendoodle. You had to have a goldendoodle.

ALONZO: (Laughter) Wow. It sounds like a goldendoodle hurt you, Paula (laughter).

POUNDSTONE: I just - you know, people make such a fuss. They're everywhere.

SAGAL: Oh, yeah.

ROCCA: Goldendoodles are everywhere. It's true.

SAGAL: Mo, this week, an urban planner had a bit of advice for homebuyers looking at, you know, old, classic, traditional homes with character. What was that advice?

ROCCA: Get a job at Williamsburg, Va...


ROCCA: ...And then you can, like, work - be around them all day. No, can I have a clue, please?

SAGAL: Well, it was very simple advice.

ROCCA: Buy one.


ROCCA: Don't buy one.

SAGAL: Right. They're terrible...


SAGAL: ...He said.

ROCCA: They're bad. Yeah.

SAGAL: He was trying to dissuade people from being romantic about old houses. This is true. People say about old homes, well, it just needs a little love and care, but it's got great bones. Is that a compliment? Imagine how you would feel if they said that about you. Is he attractive? Well, he has great bones.

ROCCA: (Laughter).

ALONZO: I'll take it.

SAGAL: Really?

ROCCA: As for what that urban planner said, somewhere, a tiny single teardrop rolls down the cheek of Bob Vila.


SAGAL: Yeah, I mean, we were talking about - it's like, yeah, well, you know, I mean, nobody has a show called, you know, "This New House." It's "This Old House," houses people love. And then we were all like, well, wait a minute, what is that show about? It's about repairing these horrendously - horrendous homes in terrible shape.

ALONZO: It's actually - that's a great point, because it ran forever (laughter).


ALONZO: They - you were never done. The whole point of the show is, you'll never get a free weekend ever.

SAGAL: And by the time they had gotten, like, the end of 10 years of - 10 seasons of the show, they had to rotate back to the first house because things were falling off again.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. And the sequel was called "This Old, Old House."

SAGAL: Yes, "This Even Older House."


CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG: (Singing) Our house is a very, very, very fine house.

SAGAL: Coming up, it's Lightning Fill in the Blank, but first, it's the game where you have to listen for the rhyme. If you'd like to play on air, call or leave a message at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. You can click the Contact Us link on our website,, where you can find tickets for our upcoming IRL shows at the Harris Theater, Chicago, Ill., February 3 and April 7. Hi, you're on WAIT, WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

CHRIS GODDIN: Hey, this is Chris Goddin from Austin, Texas.

SAGAL: Hey, Chris. What do you do there in Austin?

GODDIN: I am a licensed acupuncturist.

SAGAL: No, really?

GODDIN: Yeah. Yeah, a lot of people are into it.

SAGAL: Yeah, yeah, yeah. How long have you been doing it?

GODDIN: I've been doing it for four years now.


GODDIN: Yes. it's a lot of fun.

SAGAL: Is it really? I mean, I've heard a lot of things about acupuncture, but it - is it actually fun to treat people with little needles stuck into their bodies?

GODDIN: Oh, yeah. I mean, I get to stab people for a living.


GODDIN: It's great.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Well, Chris, welcome to the show. Bill Kurtis is going to read you three news-related limericks with the last word or phrase missing from each. If you can fill in that last word or phrase correctly in two of the limericks, you'll be a winner. Ready to play?

GODDIN: Absolutely.

SAGAL: Here is your first limerick.

KURTIS: Was ancient Peru well-behaved? They spiked beer at the parties they gave. In old Wari relics, we found psychedelics. The old kingdoms there held a big...

GODDIN: Oh, rave. Rave.

KURTIS: Rave it is.

SAGAL: Yes, rave. Exactly.


KURTIS: Good. Good.

SAGAL: According to a new study, the ancient Wari civilization from Peru forged alliances with neighboring tribes by inviting them to huge parties and giving them psychedelic drugs. It makes sense because we all know the best bonds are formed in the bathroom after midnight. Oh, my God, I love your outfit. We should never go to war.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: So the Wari brewed these big batches of a drink called chicha that was basically beer. But they spiked their kind with hallucinogens. So the guests would then be indebted to their hosts because you will never fight with someone after you both spend an hour talking to a rock about that plant over there.

ALONZO: Look, I'm just saying, as a Latino, this sounds like every family party I've ever been to.


SAGAL: Really? Really?

ALONZO: This is not different at all. I hear this story. I'm like, and?


ALONZO: I'm like, oh, sounds like someone had a quinceanera.


SAGAL: Whoa, these quinceaneras are more fun than I've heard. I'm sorry I've never been to one now.

ALONZO: Oh, man - oh, Peter, you're going to go to mine. I'm going to throw one just so you can go to it.


SAGAL: Is it...

ALONZO: I'm going to have a 45-nera (ph).


ROCCA: A 45 - yeah. A (speaking Spanish).

ALONZO: (Speaking Spanish).


SAGAL: Here is your next limerick, Chris.

KURTIS: With my pet, I took pics on my phone because in Insta, I can't post alone. And though he's dead and gone, I will still carry on with my pet 2.0, my pet's...

GODDIN: Oh, clone.

SAGAL: Yes, clone.


KURTIS: Clone, good.


SAGAL: Let's say that you're one of the people who made their pet into a star on Instagram with those adorable costumes and funny hats. And then your cash cow or your cash dog, whatever it is, dies, and you are completely out of luck and income, unless you could clone it, you sick bastard. This leading company, ViaGen, charges $50,000 to clone your dog, or $35,000 for a cat - so that debate is officially settled.


ALONZO: There is a cute dog that passed away years ago. His name was Boo.

SAGAL: Yeah.

ALONZO: And he was known as the world's cutest dog. And I was very emotional when he died. So (laughter)...

SAGAL: You see?

POUNDSTONE: You followed it, you mean, on Instagram?

ALONZO: Yes, I did.

POUNDSTONE: How old were you when the - when Boo died?

ALONZO: (Laughter).

ROCCA: Forty-four.

ALONZO: I think it was 38 (laughter).


SAGAL: It was a sensitive age. It was a sensitive age. You know what that's like, Paula.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. For me, when Spuds Mackenzie went away, I was devastated.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Oh, my God.

POUNDSTONE: Devastated.

ROCCA: I was so...

SAGAL: Your journals from that time are heartbreaking, Paula.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, honestly. It's like a really long country Western song.

ROCCA: I'm still getting over the death of Cujo.


ROCCA: No, in - off-camera, he was really sweet.

SAGAL: Of course he was.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, that's what people didn't realize. He was acting.

SAGAL: He hated being pigeonholed as a vicious, rabid dog.

ALONZO: Cujo was an artist (laughter).

ROCCA: Listen, people, hurt dogs hurt, OK? So...

SAGAL: Yeah.


SAGAL: All right, Chris, here is your last limerick.

KURTIS: For their bread, many French people weep. Its high quality, they'd like to keep. Oh, you know what they say. You will get what you pay. We're upset that baguette is too...

GODDIN: Cheap.

SAGAL: Yes, too cheap.


SAGAL: As Europe looks to be on the brink of war, the citizens of France are outraged that their bread is now too cheap. The Leclerc chain of supermarkets is freezing the price of their baguettes at about 29 cents each, and French bakers say that this ridiculously low price is an insult to their traditional craft because you cannot make the world's sharpest gum-cutting bread knives that cheaply.


POUNDSTONE: We must have the very expensive baguettes. I will not pay that small amount for a baguette. Marie. It's like I stepped right out of the pages of France, isn't it?


SAGAL: You really did. You really did. I was - it was like a Truffaut film. It was amazing. I was transported back to the streets of Paris, where I've spent so many happy hours. Thank you for that, Paula.

Bill, how did Chris do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Chris is a winner for making sense out of our silly limericks. What a good job.

SAGAL: Congratulations, Chris.



POUNDSTONE: Congrats, Chris.

GODDIN: Thank you, all. I appreciate it. This was a lot of fun.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

SAGAL: Now on to our final game, Lightning fill in the blank. Each of our players will have 60 seconds in which they answer as many fill-in-the-blank questions as they can, each correct answer now worth two points. Bill, can you give us the scores?

KURTIS: I certainly can. Mo has 2. Cristela has 3. And Paula has 3.


SAGAL: Mo, you're in third place. You're up first. The clock will start when I begin your first question, fill in the blank. Following more reports that he broke lockdown rules, U.K. leader blank may face a vote of no confidence.

ROCCA: Boris Johnson.


SAGAL: Right. On Tuesday, New York's attorney general filed papers accusing blank of a pattern of fraud.

ROCCA: Donald Trump.


SAGAL: Right. This week, the CIA said it's unlikely the diplomats affected by the blank Syndrome were under attack by foreign agents.

ROCCA: The Havana Syndrome.


SAGAL: Right. On Sunday, it was reported that former Israeli Prime Minister Blank was negotiating a plea deal for corruption charges.

ROCCA: Benjamin Netanyahu.


SAGAL: Right. This week, a reporter for a news station in West Virginia became a hero of journalists everywhere after she continued a live report after blanking.

ROCCA: Give her a Peabody, a Pulitzer, everything. She got hit by a car and kept going.


SAGAL: Absolutely - on live TV. According to a new study, most side effects from the blank vaccine are caused by the placebo effect.

ROCCA: Oh, the COVID, the coronavirus vaccine.


SAGAL: Right. Citing waning demand, stationary bike company blank announced it was temporarily halting production.

ROCCA: Peloton.


SAGAL: Right. According to court documents released this week...


SAGAL: ...A woman in Idaho who said she needed a short break from her husband blanked.

ROCCA: Accidentally killed him.

SAGAL: No, she faked her own kidnapping. You know how it is. You just need a little space, a little me time. So you text your husband that five masked men approached you after work and demanded you get in an unmarked van. The husband was initially scared but started to catch on after the kidnappers demanded $60,000 in ransom and also that someone start doing the dishes every once in a while.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Mo do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Mo came to play. He got seven right, 7 out of 8 for 14 more points. He now has 16 and the lead.

SAGAL: All right. All right.


SAGAL: So, Cristela, I'm going to arbitrarily pick you to go next. Fill in the blank. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected Donald Trump's request to block his records from going to the committee investigating blank.

ALONZO: January 6.


SAGAL: Right. On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Russian counterpart in a push to de-escalate the situation in blank.

ALONZO: Ukraine.


SAGAL: Right. This week, it was revealed that the man who held people hostage at a synagogue in blank had been under investigation by British intelligence.

ALONZO: Is it - Texas.


SAGAL: Yes. Due to concerns over omicron, China announced it was halting ticket sales for the 2022 blanks in Beijing.

ALONZO: Olympics.


SAGAL: Right. This week, a new line of cosmetic skin care face masks was released by blank.

ALONZO: I have no idea.

SAGAL: Oscar Mayer. On Sunday, winter storms across the south forced the cancellation of over 2,000 blanks. Flights.


SAGAL: Right. On Thursday, teenager Zara Rutherford became the youngest woman to blank solo.

ALONZO: Fly around the world.


SAGAL: Exactly right. Last week, residents...


SAGAL: ...In the town of Hamilton, Ontario, were shocked when they woke up to find that it was raining blanks.

ALONZO: Ice. I don't know.

SAGAL: No, raining beans. A company called Bunge is taking responsibility for the bean rain...

ALONZO: Love it.

SAGAL: ...Blaming a malfunction at one of their nearby factories. But honestly, this is what they get for building the factory on top of that famed geyser, Ol' Frijoles. Bill, how did Cristela do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Well, she had six right for 12 more points, and she now has - what was it? - 15.


ALONZO: Quince, quince, quince.

KURTIS: But Mo still has the lead with 16.

SAGAL: How many does Paula need to win?

KURTIS: Paula needs 7 to win.

SAGAL: All right, Paula.

POUNDSTONE: I'm ready.

SAGAL: This is for the game. On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked Democrats blank rights bill.

POUNDSTONE: Voting rights.


SAGAL: Right. On Monday, Dr. Fauci said it's too soon to tell if the blank wave will be the last pandemic surge.



SAGAL: Right. This week, the January 6 Committee subpoenaed former Trump lawyer blank.

POUNDSTONE: Rudy Giuliani.


SAGAL: Right. On Sunday, tsunamis rocked the nation of Tonga after an underwater blank erupted.



SAGAL: Right. This week, a car thief in Ohio was caught after he stole a vehicle without noticing blank.

POUNDSTONE: Without noticing - I don't know. Give me a hint.

SAGAL: There was a guy asleep in the backseat. On Monday, France's sports ministry suggested that unvaccinated tennis star blank would be barred from the French Open.



SAGAL: Right. On Thursday, online giant blank announced plans for their first brick-and-mortar clothing store.



SAGAL: Right. This week, a company...


SAGAL: ...Who wants to make stay-at-home easier began offering a service that would set up blank in your driveway.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, a museum.

SAGAL: An Irish pub. For just $800, the company will set up the wee Irish pub right outside of your front door. It's a tiny, 12-seat bar on wheels and the perfect gift for anyone who wants to turn their driveway into a place where off-duty cops can come to blow off some steam.

ALONZO: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Bill, did Paula do well enough to win?

KURTIS: Yes, it's so close - six right, 12 more points, for a total of 15. And that means with 16, Mo is the champion this week.



SAGAL: Now, panel, what mascot's getting a makeover next? Cristela Alonzo.

ALONZO: Little Debbie would like to acknowledge she's older now and prefers to be known as Big Deborah.


SAGAL: Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: In a corporate mascot merger, the Michelin Man is deflating his tires and becoming a Weight Watchers spokesperson.


SAGAL: And Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: Mr. Clean is going to have kind of a golden doodle wig.


KURTIS: Well, if any of that happens, panel, we'll ask you about it on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

SAGAL: Thank you, Bill Kurtis. Thanks also to Cristela Alonzo, Mo Rocca and Paula Poundstone. Thanks to all of you for listening. I am Peter Sagal. We will see you next week.


SAGAL: This is NPR.

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. 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.