Kacey Musgraves plays Not My Job on 'Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!' After 85 remote shows, Peter, Bill and the panel are finally saying farewell to sweatpants and hello to live audiences. We celebrate our new theater by looking back over the Zoom shows of our past.

'Wait Wait' for June 4, 2022: A Farewell to Zoom

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


BILL KURTIS: NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm the little pamphlet that tells you the star you came to see won't be performing tonight. I'm the play-Bill (ph) - Bill Kurtis. And here's your host, a man who hopes that people will stop showing up at the theater hoping to see his understudy - Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. So for the past two years or so, we here at WAIT WAIT... have done 85 shows without an audience, at home over Zoom. Today's show is number 86, which is appropriate because it is finally time to 86 the Zoom calls.

KURTIS: Eighty-six is old-timey slang meaning to end. Now let me tell you meaning of some of my other favorite numbers, starting with 420.

SAGAL: Well, hang on, Bill. We've got stuff to do. Starting next week, we will be back in front of a live audience at our new home in Chicago, the Studebaker Theater, and we need a little time to get ready. There's so much to do. There's wardrobe. There's makeup. There's vocal warmups.

KURTIS: Unique New York, unique New York, unique New York.

SAGAL: Now, while we're busy doing that, we thought we'd entertain you with some remarkable materials we recorded over the last year, including some things you have never heard before.

KURTIS: Let's start with country music star Kacey Musgraves, who we spoke to in January. Peter asked her about the start of her career, when she went on a music competition show and lost.


KACEY MUSGRAVES: For just a blip of a second, you know...

SAGAL: Yeah.

MUSGRAVES: ...Just long enough to get my feelings hurt and go home (laughter).

SAGAL: Wow. Is the show still going on? Have they invited you to come back?



MUSGRAVES: No, no, no.

SAGAL: No. They figured out they couldn't pick talent, and they just sort of, you know, let the whole thing die. We were looking into your background and your start. And I found out something that is - I hope is true - that one of the things you did as a very young artist was to entertain at the Sweet Potato Festival in Golden, Texas.

MUSGRAVES: Oh, hell yes I did.

SAGAL: Oh, my gosh.

EMMY BLOTNICK: That's a huge gig.

MUSGRAVES: Thank you so much for having me.

SAGAL: Tell me - I want to know everything about the Sweet Potato Festival in Golden, Texas.

MUSGRAVES: The Sweet Potato Festival happens every year. It's in my tiny little hometown of Golden, Texas. All the old ladies do, like, bake-offs with, you know, sweet potato casseroles and pies. And they crown a sweet potato queen every year.

SAGAL: Tell me it was you.



MUSGRAVES: You know, I tried out for - so for the little kids, they have a Little Miss Tater Tot and Little Mister Tater Tot.


MUSGRAVES: And I didn't win that freaking competition either, OK? Sore subject.

SAGAL: So - but did you, in fact, get up as a child with your guitar and play?

MUSGRAVES: So I did try out for Little Miss Tater Tot. It did not fare well for me. But it's funny, though. I do actually have, like - I have this video of my mom walking me kind of across the stage. I had this, like, little prairie dress on. I was clutching a doll. And the emcee of the night said in such a country accent. It's like - it's really cute, but she says, (imitating country accent) this is Kacey Musgraves. She loves pizza, sparkly dresses, movies, singing, looking at books.

Not even reading books, she said looking at books.


MUSGRAVES: (Imitating country accent) She don't like bedtime. She don't like bugs. And she don't like the word no.

And I'm like, still true. Hey, at least I'm still me.

SAGAL: I know. Wow. You're still...

BLOTNICK: Nailed it.

MUSGRAVES: I'm like, check, check, check. I love looking at books, and I hate the word no.

SAGAL: Were you one of those kids who, like, was - just knew you were destined for stardom? Or has it all been sort of like a weird thing that you never expected to happen, everything that's happened?

MUSGRAVES: Well, I lived in Austin before Nashville. I think it was my parents' way of saying, all right, you can give the music industry on your own kind of a shot. And yeah, I mean, there were some really awkward times, just eating a bunch of ramen noodles and, yeah, trying to make some ends meet.

SAGAL: Did you have any, like, really weird gigs as a struggling musician? Were you like, all right; they're paying me; I'll show up?

MUSGRAVES: Oh, I've definitely played some very strange gigs, for sure. But I guess one of the most memorable things that I have done, which - it doesn't really pertain to music that much, but when I came to Nashville, I had this other friend who worked for this company who - they did children's birthday parties. Like, you would dress up in a costume as, you know, Cinderella or Ariel and come, you know, change the lives of these birthday children and paint faces and, like, you know, have the best time, make, like, 100 bucks and then get out of there. And I was like, OK, hell yeah. Like, I'll sign up for that. Like, that sounds really wholesome and fun.

So I sign up for this job. The first gig that I got with them was to go to this park. It was a kid's birthday party, and they requested Miley Cyrus - no, excuse me. They requested Hannah Montana. And I was like, OK. So they gave me this, like, terrible, terrible wig. And I had to put, like, an outfit together that kind of looked like Hannah Montana. I had a boombox. And I had to - the idea was that I'd get out of my car, which was a really beat-up Honda Element from 2006. So I get out of my green Honda Element. I press play on the - like, the "Hannah Montana" theme song. And I, like, go up to the kids at the birthday party. They're not impressed at all. They're like, you ain't the real Hannah Montana. They're, like, tugging at my wig. I, like, paint a couple faces. The mom pays me in and she's like, I don't know, here - dumps a bunch of change in a bag at me. And then...

SAGAL: Change? She gave you, like, coins?

MUSGRAVES: It was, like, mostly change, yeah.


MUSGRAVES: And I was like, OK. Cool.

SAGAL: It clinked. All right.

MUSGRAVES: The next day, actually, I get a call from the same company. And they're like, all right, we have another birthday party. And I was like, cool. I'm like, fingers crossed it's, like, Ariel, you know, Snow White or Belle or something. And they're like, so this one, it's a little different. They're looking for a French maid to deliver balloons to a birthday boy. It's, like, an industry birthday party down at the Palm restaurant downtown.

SAGAL: A French maid...

MUSGRAVES: And I was like...

SAGAL: ...To deliver balloons. How old was this boy? Do you know?

MUSGRAVES: I was like - thank God that I had, like, a shred of dignity because I was like, absolutely not. And I said no. And it turned out to be a birthday party for Blake Shelton, who later on, you know, I would have, like, as I got into the Nashville industry, I probably would have known a lot of people in that room.





SAGAL: So you almost...

MUSGRAVES: And then I quit.

MAZ JOBRANI: You should have dressed as Hannah Montana and been like, hey...

MUSGRAVES: (Laughter) Yeah.

JOBRANI: ...I'm Hannah Montana.

MUSGRAVES: Hey, I'm here. I should have dressed as Blake Shelton.


SAGAL: Before we get to the game, which I'm, frankly, not looking forward to 'cause this is too much fun, I have to ask you about your "Saturday Night Live" appearance.

MUSGRAVES: Oh, my goodness.

SAGAL: For those who haven't seen it, you do one of the songs off the new album - beautifully, of course. The lights come up. You're sitting. The lights are behind you. You're sitting cross-legged on a stool. You've got your guitar, your guitar strap. You're playing. You're singing. And it slowly becomes apparent that you are naked.

MUSGRAVES: You forgot the cowboy boots. Cowboy boots and a smile - just a typical Thursday evening, you know? It's funny. That was one of the first gigs - I think that is the first gig, maybe, that I've played with my band on this - in this chapter. And it was like, hello, here's my butt crack.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

HONG: Very important question - did you put a Kleenex down on the stool before you sat on it?


HONG: Please say yes.

MUSGRAVES: I'm not...

SAGAL: This is network TV. They could afford a towel.

MUSGRAVES: I'm - we - I'm not going to answer that. I didn't have a Kleenex.


SAGAL: Well, Kacey Musgraves, it really is fun to talk to you, but we have business to do. We have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: (Singing) Oh, say, can you see?

SAGAL: So you sing...


SAGAL: ...Country music. So we were wondering what you knew about countries' music - that is, national anthems. Answer two out of three questions about national anthems, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of their choice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Kacey Musgraves playing for?

KURTIS: Emily Weaver (ph) of Boston, Mass.

SAGAL: All right. Ready to do this?

MUSGRAVES: I think so.

SAGAL: Here's your first question. The national anthem of Costa Rica was written by its composer while in jail back in the 19th century on what charge? Was it A, smuggling endangered sea turtles in his pants, B, calling the president an aardvark, a word the president did not know, or C, failing to write a national anthem?

MUSGRAVES: I'm going to go with B for some reason (laughter).

SAGAL: All right. I - this is what got you where you are, that sense of confidence. But, in fact, this time, it was actually C. He failed to - what happened was the president said, you, military band leader, I need a national anthem now. And the guy's like, I don't know how to write a national anthem. So the president threw him in jail and said, your bail - one national anthem.

MUSGRAVES: That's actually amazing.

SAGAL: Anyway. All right. You still have more chances. This is not a problem. When an Australian racer won a Formula One Grand Prix race in Austria in 1977, organizers were completely surprised. They couldn't find an Australian national anthem to play. So the winner, that Australian guy, was serenaded with what - A, a drunk guy playing "Happy Birthday To You" on a trumpet, B, two pit crew members trying to remember the words to "Waltzing Matilda" and failing, or C, the entire crowd singing "A Hundred Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" - the whole thing?

MUSGRAVES: My God. I hate this game.


MUSGRAVES: This is so much pressure. OK.

SAGAL: It - there's no pressure. Nobody cares. You have six Grammys. You get to keep them no matter what happens.

MUSGRAVES: No. Come to find out they actually revoke one each time.

SAGAL: Really? Every time you lose - yes, exactly.


MUSGRAVES: All right. I'm going with A.

SAGAL: You're right. It was A, yes.

KURTIS: Good girl.


SAGAL: Drunk guy on trumpet - maybe it was his birthday. Who knows? All right.


SAGAL: Yes. All right. Last question - no anthem, say experts, is as hard to sing as the national anthem of Spain. Why? A, due to an old law, anybody who forgets a single word commits a felony and can be imprisoned, B, in order to be sung correctly, you have to drink an entire bottle of wine during it, or C, it has no words. It can only be hummed.

MUSGRAVES: Oh. (Humming). Why don't we do C? Like, maybe it's a humming thing.

SAGAL: Why don't we do C? It is correct.


SAGAL: There are no words for the Spanish national anthem. So before, like - when they have a baseball game in Spain, somebody has to come out and just hum the thing at home plate.

MUSGRAVES: That's even more awkward.

HONG: How do you do vocal theatrics while humming? Like - (humming).

SAGAL: I don't know. I don't know. Bill, how did Kacey Musgraves do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Kacey is very smart. She got two out of three, which makes her a winner.




SAGAL: Somewhere inside you, a Little Miss Tater Tot just smiled...

MUSGRAVES: Just received her crown.

SAGAL: ...Because she finally got - just got her validation. Kacey Musgraves - if you want to have as much fun with her as we're having right now, she's heading out on tour for her new album, "Star-Crossed," starting in St. Paul, Minn., on January 19. Kacey Musgraves, thank you so much for being with us. You are a delight. The album is amazing. Thank you so much for being on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

MUSGRAVES: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. That was really fun.

KURTIS: Bye, Kacey.

MUSGRAVES: See you all later.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) Here's what he'll do. He'll play it cool when he hangs out with a woman like you.

SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill knocks back a few thick and chunky ones 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, and here is your host who likes to stand with his back to the audience because he thinks that's his good side, Peter Sagal.


SAGAL: Thank you, Bill. This week, we're doing everything we can to get ready for live audiences again, both at our new home theater in Chicago and out on the road. Now, you might ask, why is it worth it to come see us perform the show live?

KURTIS: Reason one, my hair, reason two, my piercing eyes - I could go on, and, well, I think will - reason three, my perfectly creased slacks.

SAGAL: Well, in addition to all of that, we record a lot more material than we get to air. And if you come to see our shows, you get to hear all of it. You don't have to wait until we decide to take a week off and broadcast them during a clip show like now.


SAGAL: Cristela, a man in India made news this week after he hacked into an airline's website to do what?

CRISTELA ALONZO: Change the flight of a plane?

SAGAL: No, that would be amazing.

MAEVE HIGGINS: Change the flight of a plane?

TOM PAPA: (Laughter).

HIGGINS: What do you mean? So that it just goes up vertical forever (laughter)?

PAPA: You're going to Indiana.

ALONZO: I would like a hint, please.

SAGAL: Well, you know how, like, people are supposed to be, like, really careful 'cause so many of them look alike? Well, somebody wasn't. So he had to go fix it. He had to go get it back.


SAGAL: Not twins.

ALONZO: Luggage.



SAGAL: He found his lost luggage by hacking into the airline's website.


PAPA: Wow.

SAGAL: So he had this flight on IndiGo Airlines that's in India. And a man named Nandan Kumar's bag wasn't on the carousel. But a bag that looked a lot like his was. So he figured out another passenger had taken his bag by mistake, and he reported the incident to the airline. I'd like my bag back. And this is amazing, I know - the airline was not helpful. So...


HIGGINS: Oh, how awful.

SAGAL: Mr. Kumar did the natural next step. He went to IndiGo's official website. He hacked it. He quickly found the other passenger's name and phone number and contacted him and got the bag back. Also, the airline is now called Kumar Air. He has 1 billion frequent flyer miles and a lifetime supply of Stroopwafels.


HIGGINS: Oh, yeah...


HIGGINS: ...Because they take a photo now of your luggage and ask you, is this your luggage, when you're going through security.

SAGAL: Do they do that?


SAGAL: I think that might be just an international thing 'cause they haven't done that to me, and I haven't flown international in a while.

HIGGINS: Oh, yeah. This is this is when I've been flying, you know, between America and the various places I smuggle drugs. Ooh.

SAGAL: Right.


PAPA: Maeve, you're on the air.


PAPA: You are on the air.


HIGGINS: What have I done? Ireland, I mean...


HIGGINS: ...To get the moss and the seaweed.


SAGAL: Ashley, according to a new study, 1 in 5 people say the smell of what gets them in the mood for romance?

ASHLEY RAY: Marijuana.


RAY: Oh, gosh.

SAGAL: They weren't asked about that, oddly.

RAY: (Laughter).

PETER GROSZ: Not you personally.

RAY: Let's see - I will - oh, this is - can I get a hint?

SAGAL: Yes. Is that gorgonzola, or are you just happy to see me?

RAY: OK, cheese?

SAGAL: Yes, specifically stinky cheese.


RAY: Oh, stinky cheese.

SAGAL: Yes. Boring normies like chocolate and champagne for romance. But for one-fifth of the population, nothing gets them in the mood like the sweet-sour smells of a really stinky cheese. Did an angel just walk into my life barefoot 'cause I think I smell feet?


SAGAL: According to an actual professor at the University of Oxford, quote, "soft blue cheese really comes into its own when getting couples in the mood for love," unquote. So turn the lights down low; put out some cheese; then wait a month or so for it to get moldy; then text her, you up?

NEGIN FARSAD: First of all, the case study of one, Negin Farsad, because I lived in Paris for a while, and I had several amorous relations with Frenchmen who would conspicuously set out a bunch of cheeses before amorous relations.

SAGAL: Really? Did they do it because they thought it would help or that it was some way required? You're like - you're going hot and heavy, and they're like, no, wait, wait. I have to put out the cheese.

GROSZ: Yes, for afterwards. It's a - like dessert.

FARSAD: To be honest, I feel like they were putting on, like, extra Frenchness because they were...

SAGAL: Yeah, yeah.

FARSAD: ...You know, they were like, oh, I'm going to get this American girl. We're going to - you know, we're going to look at the Eiffel Tower. I going to put out a plate of cheese. This'll be easy.

GROSZ: Hold on. Let me take my beret off...

RAY: Absolutely.

GROSZ: ...Before we get to the bedroom.


SAGAL: By the way, according to this study, which is apparently a real thing, smelly cheese is more erotic than lobster, which isn't surprising 'cause everything in the world is more erotic than lobster.


SAGAL: It's like, hey, honey, why don't you come over to my place, and we'll boil a large insect alive?

RAY: Yeah.

FARSAD: Why did these researchers compare lobster to anything?

SAGAL: I think they were trying to test the things that are traditionally associated with a romantic meal, right?


RAY: Ah.

SAGAL: Candles, chocolate, champagne...

RAY: Lobster.

SAGAL: Lobster - yeah.

RAY: What about a plate of spaghetti that you eat and it brings you closer to your lover? Did they rank that one?

SAGAL: That only works with dogs and only if one is a purebred and the other is a street-smart scoundrel.


SAGAL: Bobcat, coming down off their pandemic peak, the Peloton company had to lay off almost 3,000 employees this past week. But don't worry about those employees because Peloton, on the way out, gave each of them what?

BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Gave them a Peloton.

SAGAL: No, not the bike. No.

GOLDTHWAIT: They gave them a...

SAGAL: Come on, those are like 2,000 bucks.

GOLDTHWAIT: How many people did they fire?

SAGAL: About 2,800.

GOLDTHWAIT: And the reason?

GROSZ: The reason is that Peloton sold a lot of bikes and a lot of subscriptions to their, you know, online service.

GOLDTHWAIT: Yeah. So now people are going outside, or was it because they watched "Sex And The City"?

SAGAL: Yeah. Well, that may have something to do with it.

GOLDTHWAIT: Mr. - you can't buy that kind of advertisement.

SAGAL: Yeah. Everything's crashed, so they're having to cut back. With all that misfortune, they had to lay off a lot of people. And they sent those people out the door with a special gift. What? Not the bike. Not the bike, but the...

GOLDTHWAIT: The computer?

SAGAL: No, you got the equipment, but in order to access the information, you need a...

GOLDTHWAIT: Friend? I don't know. What do you need to get on this thing?

SAGAL: Are any of the other two Peloton fans?

HARI KONDABOLU: A membership of some kind?

SAGAL: Yes, a subscription.




SAGAL: They gave all 2,800 fired people, to make them feel better, a yearlong subscription to Peloton...

HIGGINS: Oh, dear.

SAGAL: ...For free. As you say, it's been a hard winter for them. First, they killed Mr. Big. Then everybody realized exercising indoors sucks. And why would you buy this expensive bike you can't even ride outside? So they had to do the layoffs. But everybody got a one-year subscription to Peloton because there's nothing any laid-off person likes more than spending hours a day staring at people still employed by the company...


SAGAL: ...Yelling at them to work harder.

HIGGINS: Oh, my God.

SAGAL: But seriously, that's what they got? You work for Peloton, and that's what you get when they fired - it's like me getting fired, and as a severance deal, I got the voice of anyone I might like on this show for my voicemail.


HIGGINS: Who would it be, though?


KONDABOLU: Oh, that's a good question.

GOLDTHWAIT: Oh, honestly.

KONDABOLU: Paula - it's always Paula.


GOLDTHWAIT: Is it me, or is it '80s me?


SAGAL: Oh, I didn't realize '80s you was an option.

GOLDTHWAIT: Yeah, that's - well, I didn't put it on the menu, but they certainly did. It's great.

SAGAL: Can you give us a sample right now since you brought it up?..


SAGAL: ...The difference between you now and '80s Bobcat.

GOLDTHWAIT: (As character) Hey, I'm not home right now, so it's a good time to come over here and rob the place. Ah.

KONDABOLU: My heart skipped a beat. My heart just skipped a beat. That was...

GOLDTHWAIT: Oh, I feel so dirty. I feel so dirty.

HIGGINS: I love it so much.

SAGAL: In December of last year, we were able to talk to one of the brightest lights of Broadway, Audra McDonald, who was starring in HBO's new show "The Gilded Age."

KURTIS: Peter asked her about finally reaching the stage in her career where she got to wear a bustle.


AUDRA MCDONALD: Yes. When I did "Ragtime," we wore bustles and corsets.

SAGAL: Oh, sure.

MCDONALD: And, yeah, so...

SAGAL: And you were like - and you said to your agent, you know what I want to do? That bustle - I just love turning around and knocking things off tables behind me. Can I do that again, please?

MCDONALD: Yes. Well, the bustles and the corsets, as Christine Baranski said during filming - she was like, it was COVID in corsets because we were filming during - well, during the pandemic. So, yeah. So it's a whole new series there.

SAGAL: Did you ever have - this makes me think of this. Did you ever have - 'cause I know you went to Juilliard, and very soon after that, you were already on Broadway and performing and winning Tonys. Did you have your starving-actor phase?

MCDONALD: Yes. While I was - well, it was a starving-student...

SAGAL: Right.

MCDONALD: ...Starving-actor phase. You know, while I was at Juilliard - I mean, my freshman year at Juilliard, I lived in a residential hotel on 93rd and Broadway, where there was an elevator we were told not to use because that's where the drug deals went down. So the people who also lived there, as well as, you know, some of these Juilliard students, took really good care of us, even though they were, like, drug users and pushers. There was a couple of prostitutes in there, but they were actually very protective of the students that were there.

ADAM BURKE: That's such a smart thing to tell college students. Hey, don't go where the drugs are.


MCDONALD: It's one of those things, too, that I didn't - because I'm from Fresno, Calif., and my - you know, my parents were still in Fresno. And I just moved to New York when I was 18. And I didn't tell them about those days until years later. I was like, let me not. Let me just - let them just think that I'm just in a practice room studying, which for the most time I was. But I didn't let them know...

SAGAL: Right.

MCDONALD: ...Exactly the conditions in which I was living.

SAGAL: We were told - I'm not surprised to hear this - that you were the star of Fresno dinner theater and that you played - I mean, you're just, like, the queen of that circuit, which everybody knows.

MCDONALD: It's a huge circuit.

SAGAL: It's huge. Yeah, I know. Once you - if you've played Fresno, what else is there to do?

MCDONALD: There's nothing. There's Fresno, and then Carnegie Hall. And that's it.

SAGAL: What kind of roles did you play as a child in the Fresno dinner theater?

MCDONALD: I played crazy roles. I played Eva in "Evita" when I was 16, which is...

SAGAL: You played Evita when you were 16?

MCDONALD: Yes, I did. Yeah, I - you know, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't really understand the ins and outs of Eva Peron, but I played her nonetheless.

SAGAL: And when you were - when you're a 16-year-old young woman in Fresno, Calif., how do you process that?

MCDONALD: You know, ignorance is bliss. You know what you know, and you don't know what you don't know (laughter).

SAGAL: Right.

MCDONALD: I mean, I had a loud voice, and I had a lot of stage presence.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

MCDONALD: I have to tell you, though, that's when I first started learning about - when you take home your characters with you.

SAGAL: Yeah.

MCDONALD: And I, for some reason, started to take home the character of Eva Peron. And so when I was in high school, I was getting very snotty with my teachers that - I think I was a junior in high school, and I was very snotty with them during that time.

SAGAL: Really?

MCDONALD: Yeah, and I think it's because I was playing Eva Peron at night. And so they'd be like, you know, where's your homework? I'm like, oh, I didn't have time to do that.

SAGAL: I'm Eva Peron. It's like, Audra, would you get away from the window? There are no crowds out there.


SAGAL: Just come back to math class.

MCDONALD: I've got work to do. Yeah, exactly.

JOBRANI: As a stage actor, have you ever been on stage and been like, oh, my God, I've done this a million times; I'm so bored? And then you start thinking about something else and have to find - has that ever happened to you, where you wandered out of the whole scene and you were somewhere else?

MCDONALD: Yes, it's happened to me. But for some reason, I'm going to tell you a story about when it happened to Zoe Caldwell, who was an incredible, incredible actress, a theatrical actress. And she won four Tony Awards. And I did masterclass with her - Terrence McNally's masterclass on Broadway in '95 and '96. And we were doing the show one night. And I said a line to her, and she just sort of paused and looked at me - like, more of a pause than usual - and then finally answered with the line. But there was just a really uncomfortable sort of silence that usually wasn't there. When we got off stage, I said, Zoe, what happened? She said, darling, I was thinking that I'm going to have pasta when I go home tonight.


MCDONALD: And she was trying to decide between, like, red sauce or white sauce. And then she realized, oh, right, I'm on stage (laughter). So I'm just - I'm saying that - why am I telling Zoe's story? I think because - just to say that it happens to all of us at some point.


MCDONALD: And if it happens to a great like Zoe, then I will feel less guilty about saying that, yes, that has happened to me, too.

KAREN CHEE: That's amazing. I will also say this whole time, I've been zoning out. I've no idea what you guys are talking about. I was thinking about...

SAGAL: Yeah, I know...

CHEE: ...What pasta I should have for dinner.

SAGAL: Well, Audra McDonald, it is an absolute honor to talk to you, but we have invited you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Hey, McDonald, Try A Whopper.

SAGAL: That's right. You probably thought we were going to ask you about McDonald's restaurant, but we're not that dumb. No, we're going to ask you about Burger King. Answer three questions about the other fast-food burger place, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of their choice on their voicemail.

Bill, who is Audra McDonald playing for?

KURTIS: Steven Chen (ph) of Los Angeles, Calif.

SAGAL: All right, here we go. You ready for this?

MCDONALD: I'm super-ready. I know my Burger King.


CHEE: Ooh, OK.


SAGAL: OK. Well, then, let's see. All right. Burger Kings are popular worldwide. All of them are a little different than the ones you find in the States. For example, which of these is a real Burger King you can visit abroad - A, a Burger King in Amsterdam where you can buy their pot-infused burger, the Whimper (ph), B, a Burger King in Finland which features a fully functioning nude sauna - and, yes, you can buy your food and bring it in there - or C, a Burger King in Havana called the Burger Comrade, who serves the people?

MCDONALD: I'm going to go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A, the Burger King in Amsterdam with a pot-infused burger.

MCDONALD: Yeah, because if not, there should be.

SAGAL: It was B, actually. It was the Burger King in Finland.


SAGAL: Yeah.

MCDONALD: Really? Why does anybody want to take a burger into a sauna?

CHEE: That's a really good point - just for extra bacteria on the side (laughter).

SAGAL: Well, it's Finland. They like saunas.

BURKE: But it's also great 'cause then there's grill marks on both you and...


SAGAL: That's true. You match.

CHEE: You match.

SAGAL: All right. You've two more questions. Though it may seem shocking, actor Robert Downey Jr. credits Burger King with changing his life. How? A, he wasn't sure if it was smart to take the role of Iron Man, but he went to a Burger King and decided, yes, he could have things his way, B, in 2003, he ate a burger from Burger King that was so bad that it forced him to confront all his life choices to that point, leading him to finally get sober, or C, he applied to work at a Burger King at the age of 16, was turned down and, in the depths of his disappointment, realized he'd have to settle for acting.

MCDONALD: Oh, these are all such good answers. I'm going to say all of the above.


SAGAL: No, it was B. He hit bottom eating a Burger King burger.

MCDONALD: Wow. OK, well, I don't consider eating Burger King rock bottom.


MCDONALD: But maybe I do it a little too much.

SAGAL: All right, last question. Burger King is known these days - I don't know primarily, but still - for their weirdly creepy mascot...


SAGAL: ...The Burger King, the guy with the mask.


SAGAL: It's all very odd. But he is not the creepiest fast-food mascot ever. Which of these, at least in our opinion, is - the KFC cannibal chicken, the Arby's meat blob or the Quiznos Spongmonkey?

MCDONALD: Those are all real things?

SAGAL: No, one of them is. Again, one of them is.


SAGAL: A was the KFC cannibal chicken.

MCDONALD: I know. All right, it's going to be - you know, I'm going to change my mind. It's C.

SAGAL: It's C. you're going to go for the Quiznos Spongmonkey. You're right.


SAGAL: Yes. It was the Quiznos Spongmonkey. Or it could have been Spongmonkey. We're not sure. It was weird. It was short-lived, but it was real.

MCDONALD: It's terrible. That's terrible.

CHEE: So strange.

BURKE: That sounds like the most entry-level job at Quiznos.

SAGAL: The Spongmonkey.


SAGAL: Oh, yeah, our CEO started as a Spongmonkey. And the next thing you know - Bill, how did Audra McDonald do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Even though she only got one right, it's impossible not to give her an award. We'll call her a winner.



SAGAL: Audra McDonald is an Emmy, Grammy and six-time Tony winner who will appear in HBO's "The Gilded Age," out next month. And she'll be back on Broadway soon. Audra McDonald, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

MCDONALD: Thank you for having me. I had a ball. Thank you so much.

CHEE: Thank you.

SAGAL: See you soon. Bye-bye.



MCDONALD: (Singing) Ordinary mothers lead ordinary lives. Keep the house and sweep the parlor...

SAGAL: When we come back, "Succession's" Brian Cox reveals himself to be much nicer than his character Logan Roy and a man who is planning to go to Mars and is not Elon Musk. That's when we return with more WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

SAGAL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, and here's your host, a man People magazine once called America's sweet potato, Peter Sagal.


SAGAL: Thank you, Bill. We are getting ready for our return to live performances every week, and it turns out we're rusty. For example, is stage left to the actors' left or to the audience's left?

KURTIS: Stage left is always to my left, wherever I happen to be.

SAGAL: OK. That's good to know. Now, while we go over our notes, we want you to enjoy these two remarkable interviews - first, with a giant of the theater himself Brian Cox, who people these days may recognize as patriarch Logan Roy on HBO's "Succession."

KURTIS: Brian told us how much our show meant to him. And if it's not true, then, well, nothing is.


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 it 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" playing with Mercutio. So it turned out that 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 busily 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 who doing it.

I mean, it was one actor who actually fell over in the first scene and remained there for the entire play 'cause he was so drunk. He was out of it. They were all drunk. It was outrageous.


SAGAL: That's...

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


COX: The reviews - the wedding reviews were quite good.

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. Yeah. Yeah.

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

COX: It is good. I mean, you've got to invest a bit more 'cause 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? - because I'm not seeing much of it. 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. Yeah.


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. And he was saying, well, yes. Well, you know, we're liking it. We are on the whole liking it. I said, oh, you're - on the whole, you're liking it. He said, oh, yes, yes. It's well done. Oh, God, it's well done. We loved it. 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, really? I said, ah. 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. 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 it 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 captured 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: And finally, here's Woody Hoburg, a NASA astronaut who might well be one of the first people to return to the moon on the new Artemis missions.

KURTIS: Peter asked him about his title and whether he had earned it yet.


SAGAL: So you are an astronaut, even though - and, again, correct me if I'm wrong - you have not yet, like, gone to space.

WOODY HOBURG: That is correct, yes. I do have my first assignment, but I haven't flown yet.

SAGAL: OK. That's cool. We were looking into your background, and it seems, like, comically appropriate for someone who was going to be an astronaut. So for example, your hobby as a child was building giant rockets.

HOBURG: Yes. I started with the little Estes model rocket kits that my parents bought me. I built lots of those and then just started building bigger and bigger rockets. And, yeah, after a while, they were 21 feet tall with homemade electronics and all sorts of geekery. And I think it only made sense to me in hindsight that that actually did set me up well to be an astronaut.

SAGAL: And you didn't send your application - 'cause I know many, many, many, many people apply. Very few get accepted. You didn't send your application in the nose of that, like, homemade rocket? That would have been impressive.


HOBURG: It turns out applying is actually a surprisingly boring process initially. It's done on usajobs.gov.

SAGAL: Really?

HOBURG: That's true, yes.

SAGAL: You have to go in through a website to be an astronaut?

HOBURG: That is correct.

SAGAL: That does seem a little mundane, you know?

HOBURG: (Laughter).

GROSZ: If you click the wrong button, do you end up being, like, a - I don't know - like, a postal worker...


GROSZ: ...Or some other, like, boring federal job or something?

SAGAL: I always assumed it was like you get invited to a secret base like in "Men In Black."


SAGAL: So let's talk about Artemis. This is the mission to which you are assigned. And I actually was stunned to find this out - that, in fact, NASA is planning to send people to the moon in two years from now, which doesn't seem very long at my age.

HOBURG: It's not far away at all. And, in fact, Artemis 1 - that'll be an uncrewed mission for Artemis 1. But it's going to go out around the moon...


HOBURG: ...And come back. And then Artemis 2, the first flight with crew onboard, will be just a couple of years later.

SAGAL: So before you go to the moon, I understand you're going to go to the - up to the ISS, right?


SAGAL: We understand that astronauts - this is another thing that we have learned from movies - that astronauts are allowed to bring, when they go up to the space station, one personal item.

HOBURG: Yes. There are some approvals. You're constrained in mass and volume on things you can bring, and - for example, you can't bring anything flammable. But within some constraints, yes, you do get to bring some personal items on board.

SAGAL: (Laughter) I was just thinking of an astronaut saying, no, I wanted to bring my lucky can of gasoline. What do you mean?

HOBURG: Right (laughter).

SAGAL: Well, I got to say, especially after last few years, I'm very glad that we have people of your caliber involved in our government programs. But at the same time, it's kind of tragic that what do we do with you is we send you off the planet.

HOBURG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: But, Woody Hoburg, it's real interesting to talk to you about being an astronaut, but we have, in fact, asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Dance With These Stars.

SAGAL: So you are going to dance with the stars, as it were, so we thought we'd ask you about "Dancing With The Stars," the most successful international reality show ever. Answer two out of three questions about the show, you will win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anyone they might choose on their voicemail.

Bill, who is Woody Hoburg playing for?

KURTIS: Mary Collins (ph) of St. Louis, Mo.

SAGAL: So here's your first question. There are 60 different versions of the show on TV around the world, and there are some key differences between them. For example, the Argentinean version of "Dancing With The Stars" has what twist? A, the only dances allowed are tango, more tango, tango, tango, tango and 2 Tango 2 Furious (ph), B, the very popular dressing room cam segment, or, C, the strip dance.

HOBURG: Wow. I guess I'll have to go with the tango.

SAGAL: You're going to go - so you - the only dance segments - 'cause every - you know, every series has different dances. And you're - the only dances they allow in the Argentinean version are tango, more tango, tango, tango, tango and 2 Tango 2 Furious.

HOBURG: OK. I'll go with the dressing room segment.

SAGAL: You're going to go...

HOBURG: That seems more plausible.

SAGAL: OK. No. In fact, the answer...

HOBURG: There we go. You talked me out of it.

SAGAL: I did talk you out of it, but not enough because the real answer is strip dance. That is...


SAGAL: ...A thing that they do and is exactly what it sounds like. So if you think the American version is too boring, try to watch the Argentinean one.

All right. You still have two more chances here, right? We've built in redundancy like they do in the spaceships, so there's no problem here. Next question - "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson occupies a unique position in "Dancing With The Stars" history. What is it? A, she has managed to lose the competition on three different countries' editions of the show, B, her audition tape was stolen from her home and put on the internet or C, she used her "Baywatch" lifeguard skills to resuscitate Sean Spicer after he passed out during the tap dance segment.


HOBURG: OK. There's no way that it was Sean Spicer.

SAGAL: All right.

HOBURG: (Laughter) The stolen tape sounds most plausible to me.

GROSZ: It's...

SAGAL: Do you know why that sounds plausible to you?

HOBURG: No. It...

SAGAL: I mean, have you - you don't know why that sounds...

GROSZ: I don't know if he's old enough to...

SAGAL: You may...

GROSZ: ...May not remember that.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: That might be true.


ROBERTS: Does - you think he's old enough to remember that "Baywatch" was a hit around the world?

HOBURG: OK. Well, so it's clearly A. But you guys are just helping me with every answer. It's A.


SAGAL: Well, yes.

ROBERTS: Mission Control WAIT WAIT... (laughter).



SAGAL: Yes, the answer is A.


SAGAL: She has managed to lose on three different countries' editions of the show.

All right. Here's your last question, Woody. If you get this one right, you get to continue with your mission.

HOBURG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Denver Broncos star Von Miller was in the show in 2016. But in addition to the difficult dancing routines, Miller also had to overcome what? A, the rules against spiking his dance partner after a successful performance, B, his reflexive desire to tackle the other dancers or, C, his own flatulence.

HOBURG: Well, let's see. The third - I would say the third one. His own flatulence sounds most plausible.

SAGAL: There, finally - yes. You nailed it.



SAGAL: You absolutely - yes.


SAGAL: His partner ended up charging him, as a fine, $100 per fart. I have no idea what the total was.

Bill, how did Woody Hoburg do on our quiz?

KURTIS: We're going to call it three straight. I mean, here's the guy going to the moon.

SAGAL: Woody Hoburg is a NASA astronaut headed to the International Space Station and one day the moon and maybe to infinity and beyond. Woody Hoburg, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

HOBURG: It was an honor to be with you. Thanks for having me.

SAGAL: It was a pleasure to talk to you.

KURTIS: Speaking with you.

ROBERTS: Bye-bye.

SAGAL: Take care. Bye-bye.

That's it for our too-excited-to-go-back-to-live-audiences-to-even-think-about-a-new-show edition. And if you want to see for yourself how rusty we are, you can find more information about all our shows at nprpresents.org.

WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME is a production of NPR and WBEZ Chicago, in association with Urgent Haircut Productions. Doug Berman, benevolent overlord. Philipp Goedicke writes our limericks. Our public address announcer is Paul Friedman. Our production assistant is Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis. BJ Leiderman composed our theme. Our program is produced by Jennifer Mills, Miles Doornbos, Lillian King and Nancy Saechao. Our Scottish play is Peter Gwinn. Technical direction is from Lorna White. Our business and ops manager is Colin Miller. Our tour manager is Shayna Donald. Our production manager is Robert Neuhaus. Our senior producer is Ian Chillag. And the executive producer of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME is Mike Danforth. Thanks to everybody you heard on this week's show, all of our great panelists, all of our fabulous guests and, of course, Mr. Bill Kurtis. Thanks to all of you for listening. I'm Peter Sagal, and we will see you next week from our new home at the Studebaker Theater in downtown Chicago.


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