Hunk of Burning Love: Elvis-themed weddings in Vegas are no more : Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Comedian Mic Nguyen and Emma search for someone to fill some very hard to fill shoes, and Mic gets lessons from the King.

Hunk of Burning Love: Elvis-themed weddings in Vegas are no more

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Hey, guys, I'm Emma Choi, and welcome to EVERYONE & THEIR MOM, a weekly show from Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! This week, we're talking about Elvis, with comedian, co-host of "Asian Not Asian" podcast and the man who introduced me to the magic of Cantonese steamed rice rolls - it's Mic Nguyen. Hi, Mic.

MIC NGUYEN: What, what. What's going on? How's it going? Thanks for having me.

CHOI: Thanks for coming. We're so freaking pumped. And we have something really fun to talk about. So, Mic, you know how you can, like, go to Vegas and, like, get married by Elvis literally any second of any day?

NGUYEN: Oh, yeah.

CHOI: Well, those days are ending soon.

NGUYEN: I've heard about this.

CHOI: Elvis' licensing company is, like, no longer allowing Las Vegas businesses to use his likeness.

NGUYEN: That's crazy.

CHOI: I know. So there's no more Elvis-themed weddings, which is a very Grinch-like move, you know?

NGUYEN: I thought that Elvis had passed into the public domain at this point, I mean, you know, kind of like - I don't know - like, Mozart or maybe - you know what I'm saying? Like, Mozart, Elvis, they belong to the people.

CHOI: Yeah, absolutely. But turns out, the terms Elvis, Elvis Presley and the King of Rock & Roll are protected trademarks. So next Vegas wedding, get ready for Melvis Mresley (ph), the Emperor of Crock and Troll.

NGUYEN: Are you telling me that Las Vegas is run by corporations? No way.

CHOI: No. What's your take on Vegas, Mic?

NGUYEN: Oh, my gosh. I love Vegas. I love - I got it down to a science.

CHOI: Yeah.

NGUYEN: I have figured out exactly how much Chilean sea bass I can eat in order to make the hotel stay worth it. Does that make - I have a mathematical calculation. It's perfect. You come talk to me.

CHOI: I wonder if this is an Asian thing. Because my grandma and all of her sisters - they have, like, six sisters. Every time they go to Vegas, like, they sit down in their ajumma visors and their, like, their cropped pants and they, like, sit down and they close down the seafood restaurant. Like, they eat their weight plus more in lobster. And by the time they leave Vegas, it's like Vegas is leaving them, you know?

NGUYEN: (Laughter) You know, it's like that old saying, you know, so people usually go to Vegas to gamble. When Asian people show up, Vegas gambles with Asians. It's not the same thing at all.

CHOI: Yeah. I mean, you're married, Mic. How did - what was - was your wedding anything like a Elvis drive-through?

NGUYEN: No, but it's interesting because my wife - I'm Vietnamese, but my wife is Korean.

CHOI: Hell, yeah.

NGUYEN: And Korean wedding - I'm not - the ceremony, I can't remember what it's called exactly.

CHOI: I don't know.

NGUYEN: But it's very beautiful. Lot of - a lot of silk. Let me tell you this - a lot of silk, a lot of food, OK, and a lot of bowing and hand motions. It's perfect for Elvis. They should have an Elvis Korean package.

CHOI: Oh, my God.

NGUYEN: You know, he's in a hanbok, right? He is - he's doing the whole lip thing but with Korean words. It's a match made in heaven.

CHOI: In a way - you know, my whole family is Korean. Every Korean wedding does have an Elvis impersonator in spirit because there's always that one uncle who gets, like, super drunk and starts singing to all the kids. And to me, that's Elvis, right?

NGUYEN: Yup. Yup. I would also imagine that same uncle probably has a big pompidoo.

CHOI: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ours is Uncle Dennis, and he's our Elvis. You know, Dennis turns up at every wedding and we're like, great, he's here.

NGUYEN: Tell Uncle Dennis to be careful. He might get a cease-and-desist soon, so...

CHOI: Literally.

NGUYEN: It's great. Or maybe he - maybe Uncle Dennis, he's going to - about to embark on a new career in Vegas. I'm thinking Korean drunk uncle marries - you know, is your officiant.

CHOI: Yes. He's a deacon in the Catholic Church. So he has - he can do it.

NGUYEN: Holy moly. Stop the podcast now. Call him up. We're going to get investors.


CHOI: Hi, Uncle Dennis.

DENNIS SHIN: Hello. Hello, Emma.

CHOI: Can you introduce yourself?

SHIN: I'm Uncle Dennis.

CHOI: Uncle Dennis, I feel like - would you describe yourself as the life of the party?

SHIN: Well, you know, I'm kind of a has-been. It's been a while, but you know who the life of the party is? You guys now.

CHOI: It's funny because when I think of our family gatherings, like, I always think of, like, you as the life of the party. Like, remember at Jason's wedding, like, every - you're in every single one of the wedding photos. And Jason's not even your son, you know? Like, you made my dad take shots with you. And I remember, like, you busting some serious moves on the dance floor.

SHIN: I will neither admit nor deny. But, you know, we have fun.

CHOI: And we got a big family, too. There's, like - what? - like, a hundred of us just on my dad's side.

SHIN: I think it's about, like, 60 people, 50 if we all get together.

CHOI: What do you think is one of our best Shin family get-togethers?

SHIN: Several years ago, we got together in Las Vegas. Do you remember the yardstick? Well, you weren't old enough to...

CHOI: Oh, my God. I do remember that.

SHIN: Yeah. It's like a three- or four-foot bottle...

CHOI: Dear God.

SHIN: ...Filled with cocktail, and, you know, we're walking around having competition with each family. And then we ended up at, I think, one of the casino buffet. And, you know, there's a big - it's, like, a midnight buffet, and there was a big long line.

CHOI: Yeah.

SHIN: And, you know, like, 50 of us were standing in line with a bunch of people, right?

CHOI: Yeah.

SHIN: And we were speaking Konglish (ph).

CHOI: Yeah.

SHIN: You speak Konglish, right?

CHOI: Yeah.

SHIN: It's a mix of Korean and English. And we were talking really loud 'cause, you know, we have to hear each other - all 50 of us.

CHOI: Yeah.

SHIN: So we're talking. We're loud. We're obnoxious. And, you know, people in the line, they're kind of looking at us funny. You know, what are these Asians? A bunch of Asians - they're so loud. And so we looked at each other. We stopped, and then we started speaking British accent - all of us.

CHOI: (Laughter).

SHIN: And everybody there, they just hushed down. And they're all watching us, like - they got so confused. You know, that was fun.

CHOI: Yeah. That is so fun.

SHIN: You know what we should do next time...

CHOI: What?

SHIN: ...When we get together? We have enough people that we could do a flash mob.

CHOI: Oh, God.

SHIN: What do you think?

CHOI: I feel like the (speaking Korean) would break a hip. I don't want to endanger them like that.

SHIN: (Laughter).

CHOI: Well, Uncle Dennis, I know that you officiated your daughter Emily's (ph) wedding, right? I watched it on Zoom.

SHIN: I did.

CHOI: And you were so great. And you're a deacon. Do you like officiating weddings?

SHIN: Well, I've only done a few. I was very honored to do my own daughter's wedding. Yeah, that was a cool experience.

CHOI: Well, I mean, we wanted to talk to you because you're my fun uncle, but also because there is this news that pretty soon you won't be able to be married by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas.

SHIN: Is that right?

CHOI: Yeah - which is crazy.

SHIN: Oh, my God.

CHOI: I know. And my friend thinks that you should take over that role as an iconic Vegas wedding officiant.

SHIN: Yes. Yes.

CHOI: Yeah?

SHIN: Oh, yeah.

CHOI: I think you'll be great at it.

SHIN: I actually did a show for my church on a fundraiser - did a whole surprise Elvis act.

CHOI: No way. Are you serious - an Elvis thing?

SHIN: The whole get-up - you know, the white suit with the scarf. And I was going around giving the scarf to the ladies and, you know, the sweat. And yeah, they loved it.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Please welcome Deacon Dennis Shin.

CHOI: Was there a moment where you had an out-of-body Elvis moment?

SHIN: When I was doing the arm twist, you know.

CHOI: Oh, yeah.

SHIN: Oh, yeah. There it is.


SHIN: (Singing) Wise men say only fools rush in.

CHOI: Mic, what do you think the life of an impersonator is? Do you think that's a desirable job to have?

NGUYEN: I think it's - I think it is a desirable job. I think if you look at it, you know, you - it could be - it's very monastic, OK? If you think about it, you're living in the desert, all right? You're committing your life to bringing people together. You wear sacred vestments, all right? And you're steeped in mythology. I think it's a beautiful life, you know? Yeah. Do you also have to maybe have to have a day job at the Circus Circus cafeteria? Sure. But at night, you know, you do God's work.

CHOI: Yeah (laughter).

NGUYEN: I think it's a beautiful life. It really does sound nice. I was thinking maybe I should become an Elvis impersonator. I think there is a - strangely, for some reason, a lack of Vietnamese American Elvis impersonators.

CHOI: Yeah.

NGUYEN: It's an underserved market, I think.


MELISSA BRUMM: You can't just put the costume on. You have to do the moves. You have to hold yourself in a certain way.

CHOI: Hey, Melissa.

BRUMM: Hey, Emma. How's it going?

CHOI: Good. Thanks for joining us.


CHOI: So just to start, will you introduce yourself to us?

BRUMM: Yeah. So my name is Melissa Brumm. I'm also known as Melvis. I'm a comedian and impersonator and singer out of Madison, WI. My main shtick is that I perform shows as an Elvis tribute artist, as an Elvis impersonator.

CHOI: How did you get your start doing this?

BRUMM: I've always loved Elvis and the Beatles and classic rock, and so I would, you know, always sing to songs and people would always say, like, I sounded like Elvis, you know? So my cousin had an Elvis-themed party, which I decided to actually, like, show up in full costume and - 'cause it was at this place that was - that had Elvis' favorite roller coaster at. And I was like, how funny would it be if I just dressed as Elvis, rode this roller coaster? And so that's where it kind of started. And then, like, being a woman as Elvis is also - I often think that there's going to be this backlash, but there never is. It's always like, wow, that's really cool, or you do, like, this amazing job at it.

CHOI: I mean, how do you get into character?

BRUMM: I'll look in the mirror or something, and I'll make a stance, or I'll, like, do a, you know, karate move? And I'm just like - I just start laughing, and I'm just like, this is so funny. And then I'm like, hey, y'all, it's Melvis. You know, I, like, do some goofy voice and...

CHOI: I love that. Instead of power posing, it's, like, Elvis posing. You're, like, harnessing his spirit.

BRUMM: Yeah, it's kind of like that, something like that.

CHOI: I love that.

BRUMM: Yeah.

CHOI: We have a friend named Mic who says he wants to be an Elvis impersonator. And so you're an Elvis impersonator. How can we tell him about, you know - or what can we tell him about how to start? Like, is there a training course, or is there, like, an internship you can figure out?

BRUMM: That would be great, if there was - an apprenticeship, how to be Elvis.


CHOI: If Mic was your apprentice, where would you start with him, to train him?

BRUMM: I mean, so much of Elvis's embodiment comes from his moves. That's really what brings people into the show, you know? That's what people - they can see you dressed as Elvis, but what really, like, shows you that, like - shows them that you are Elvis is the movement, the way you move. That's really what takes people to that next level of, like, that looks like Elvis.

CHOI: It's such a powerful, like, physicality. Do you find that that confidence makes its way into your everyday life?

BRUMM: I think it does, yeah. Like, learning how to move like him, I've definitely captured more of his confidence in my daily life, which I'm definitely grateful for. I just like when people - you know, let's just keep Elvis's music going.


CHOI: We want to play a game with you, if that's OK, because to us it's kind of crazy that people entrust Elvis to perform the sacred rite of marriage. So we wanted to find out what else people would trust Elvis to do. So we're going to give you a job, and you tell us if you would let Elvis do it. OK?



CHOI: Cook you breakfast. Would you let Elvis do it?

NGUYEN: Was this - is this after an amorous evening?

CHOI: Sure. Yeah.

NGUYEN: If so, then definitely yes (laughter).


CHOI: Deliver a baby. Let Elvis do it?

NGUYEN: Oh, yes. But only older Elvis.


CHOI: OK. Neuter your cat - Elvis doing that?

NGUYEN: I'm thinking yeah, the King can do it all.


CHOI: He can do it - absolutely. How about have your extra key to your apartment - going to give him that?

NGUYEN: Oh, man. You know what? That might be the one thing - I'm thinking, you know, he's a party animal, so I don't know if I can trust him with that.

CHOI: (Laughter) I like - we're really seeing where your priorities are at. OK. Would you let him donate a kidney to you?

NGUYEN: First of all, yes...


NGUYEN: ...Because that kidney's seen things. Let's just say that.

CHOI: Yeah.

NGUYEN: I think that kidney's been around the block. Will I need to immediately give it back to him? Absolutely.

CHOI: OK. Joint custody - I love it. How about conduct a baptism? Would you let him do it?

NGUYEN: Oh. I mean, hey, you know what? Why stop at just that sacrament? Let's do them all.


NGUYEN: Confession - OK. Last rites - all of them.

CHOI: And finally, would you let Elvis marry you to the love of your life?

NGUYEN: Oh, my gosh. Let's annul the marriage I have so that he can do it proper, you know? In the eyes of Graceland and our Lord - Graceland.

CHOI: Amazing. You won, Mic. Thanks for playing our game. That was fun.



CHOI: Here's my favorite part of the podcast - the credits. This show was brought to you by Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! This episode was produced by Hayley Fager, Zola Ray and Nancy Saechao, with help from Lillian King, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis and the hot barista I can never make eye contact with when I order my chai. Our supervising producer is Jennifer Mills, and our The Man is Mike Danforth. Once again, Lorna White, thank you for helping us with sound. It sounds great, just like you. Melissa Brumm - a.k.a. Melvis - thank you for teaching us all your great Elvis moves.

BRUMM: I look just like Rachel Maddow.

CHOI: Follow Melissa @melvisthedragking on Instagram. Thanks to my Uncle Dennis for always making family reunions 20% more fun.

SHIN: Thank you very much.

CHOI: And thank you to my co-host - comedian, Wait Wait panelist and my most well-dressed friend Mic Nguyen.

NGUYEN: In my mind, what's coming up is maybe Jar Jar Binks?

CHOI: Make sure to check out his show, the "Asian Not Asian" podcast. I'm Emma Choi, and you can find me @waitwaitnpr and still watching the pigeons across the alley. Update - a big, gray one came and fought the first two, and now he seems to have staked claim of the perch. I don't know. OK, I'm done. This is NPR.

BRUMM: (Singing) Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can't help falling in love with you.

How about that (laughter)? You picked the hardest Elvis song for me to sing in my register. It's OK (laughter).

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