David Axelrod plays Not My Job on NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" This week, we make our triumphant return to Tucson, and political consultant David Axelrod makes his return to our show. He helped get Obama elected, but what does Axelrod know about Axl Rose?

'Wait Wait' for March 25, 2023: Live from Tucson!

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1165872892/1166064854" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON, BYLINE: The following program was taped in front of an audience of real, live people.


BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, the voice that makes men weep and public radio listeners pledge.


KURTIS: And here is your host at Centennial Hall in Tucson, Ariz., Peter Sagal.



Thank you, everybody. It is so great to be back with you all. I have been away for a few months with my family helping to look after a new baby boy and his toddler brother.


SAGAL: But don't worry, everybody. During those weeks away, I made sure to keep in shape for this job. Just imagine one of those, like, Rocky training montages. But instead of lifting trees in the wilderness, it's just me telling fart jokes to a 2-year-old.


SAGAL: Later on, we're going to be talking to Chicago's most famous political genius, David Axelrod, who, like all true Chicagoans, comes to Arizona for the winter.


SAGAL: But first, it's your turn to call in to play our games. The number is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Now, let's welcome our first listener contestant. Hi. You are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

DARIA BAUER: Hello. My name's Daria Bauer.

SAGAL: Hey, Daria. Where are you calling from?

BAUER: San Rafael, Calif.

SAGAL: Oh, up in beautiful Marin County. I love it up there. What do you do there?

BAUER: You got it. I do as much as possible. I'm a late-stage actor, which means over 70 and union and getting a manager and an agent and working in LA acting.

SAGAL: That's amazing.

BAUER: (Inaudible).

SAGAL: That's amazing.


BAUER: Thank you.

SAGAL: I'm very impressed and excited for you. I don't know if you should refer to it as being a late-stage actor because it sounds like it's terminal.


BAUER: Oh (laughter).

SAGAL: Well, I'm really glad to have you on the show, Daria. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First up, an Emmy-winning writer whose second New York Times bestseller, "I'll Show Myself Out," is now in paperback. It's Jessi Klein.




KLEIN: Hello.

SAGAL: Next, his new stand-up special "Vacation Baby" comes out on YouTube April 18, and he'll be touring the country all spring. It's Hari Kondabolu.


HARI KONDABOLU: Hello, Daria. How are you?

SAGAL: And you can see her April 29 in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall and May 5 in Boston at The Wilbur - it's Paula Poundstone.


PAULA POUNDSTONE: Hey Daria. Daria, I want you to know the only way I lose tonight is if it's rigged. It's rigged.


SAGAL: OK (inaudible).


SAGAL: Daria, you are 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 just two of them, you will win our prize - any voice from our show you might choose on your voicemail. Are you ready to go?


SAGAL: All right, then. Here is your first quote.

KURTIS: Click to cancel.

SAGAL: That was the name of a new government regulation announced just this week finally doing something about a scourge of our times and making it easier to cancel what?

BAUER: Yeah. Canceling all those things that you get that you don't want afterwards.

SAGAL: That's right. That's right.


SAGAL: Very good.


SAGAL: Basically, it's going to fix problems with anything that makes it really easy to sign up but impossible to quit. We also would have accepted the NPR Wine Club as an answer.


BAUER: Yeah, I get that. Yes.

SAGAL: So this new regulation will require businesses to let people use the same method to cancel as they use to sign up. So to join, it was like, would you like to join the candle of the month club? Click here. Oh, would you like to quit? Well, collect the three ocean gems while the moon is waning gibbous, and bring them on your birthday to the cave of the Riddle King.


POUNDSTONE: I - You know what? I think it would be good if they extended it to marriage.


SAGAL: I mean, it's like the "Lord Of The Rings." You just take the ring off, and it's over?


KLEIN: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: Or I prefer click here.


KLEIN: I signed up for Noom once, just...


SAGAL: Oh, Noom, that's the psychological weight loss.



KLEIN: Yeah, it was - yeah. It's the way you're going to lose weight just by them getting to really know you. Yeah. And I was like, yeah, I'd love this. And then, I kind of woke up the next morning. I was like, why did I do this? And I couldn't cancel. I - It was uncancelable. And then, month after month, I'm just so stressed and, like, stress eating about Noom.

SAGAL: Yeah.


KLEIN: Packing on pounds.

POUNDSTONE: I - you know what? I had a gym membership at one point, and I had to call and get out of it. And, well, it was actually my son's gym membership, but I was paying for it. But they said, well, you can use it. And I said, I have glaucoma, and I'm not allowed to lift heavy things.


POUNDSTONE: And they insisted. And so I would go and weight lift. And then, I would say to the trainer, where are you?


POUNDSTONE: And they finally let me out.


SAGAL: All right. Daria, your next quote is actually a protest sign that was held proudly aloft this week in the streets.

KURTIS: Long live retirement.

SAGAL: That was a sign held by someone protesting...

BAUER: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...A raise in the retirement age from 62 all the way up to 64.


SAGAL: Where are these protests happening?

BAUER: (Singing, in French accent) France.

SAGAL: In (Singing, in French accent) France.

Yes, in Paris, France.


SAGAL: President Macron of France forced through a bill raising the retirement age in that country from 62 to 64, and millions of people took to the streets in protest. They burned trash. They stopped traffic. And businesses, never underestimate how hard French people will work in order to not work.


POUNDSTONE: You know, I am totally with them.

KLEIN: I like how much the French protest. I like that they're, like, out on the streets, freaking out at every little thing that they don't - you know, they don't take any guff except - I guess, except for World War II...


KLEIN: ...When they kind of rolled over.

SAGAL: Yeah.

KLEIN: But - what? Too soon?


KLEIN: Fresh on the mind?

SAGAL: I mean, the French - French protests are still classy. I mean, you should taste their Molotov Beaujolais.


SAGAL: All right, Daria, here is your last quote. It's from breakfast food giant Post.


KURTIS: It's part of a healthy sleep routine.

SAGAL: That's a slogan for their new product, a type of what made specifically for eating just before bed?

BAUER: Ooh. A Post cereal?

SAGAL: Yes, a cereal.


SAGAL: It's bedtime cereal.


SAGAL: Everybody in the audience is like, wait a minute, I invented that years ago.


SAGAL: But now Post has released Sweet Dreams Cereal, which they say is a, quote, nutrient-dense, before-bed snack to power you for a marathon, eight hours of motionless breathing.


SAGAL: This special nighttime breakfast cereal can also help you wake up faster when you reach for your glasses and knock over the bowl of old milk on your nightstand.


KLEIN: I love this. I love this so much. This combines all of my interests - sleeping and eating.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Yeah.

KLEIN: Do we know what's in the cereal?

SAGAL: Yes. As a matter of fact, I do.

KLEIN: Is it, like, chicken and...

SAGAL: No, no, no. It's...

KLEIN: ...Like, braised meats?

SAGAL: It comes in blueberry and honey almond varieties, both of which contain lavender and chamomile, right? It's perfect for people who are tired of eating a bag of potpourri every night.


KLEIN: Does it come with the pot or they know you're going to buy your own pot?


SAGAL: I think...

POUNDSTONE: It's actually...

SAGAL: That'd be funny. When I was a kid, you know, cereal used to come with prizes. That would be a good prize.

KLEIN: Oh, a treat.

SAGAL: Yeah, you know?

KONDABOLU: That should (laughter)...

POUNDSTONE: I understand that...

SAGAL: Now with a blunt inside. OK, yeah.



SAGAL: I don't know why they called it Sweet Dreams when Grape Nights is right there.


KONDABOLU: I like Cinnamon Doze Crunch.


KLEIN: That's good, too.

KONDABOLU: That's good. Special Z.


KONDABOLU: Cheeri-Doze (ph).

KLEIN: Count Snooze-ula (ph)?

KONDABOLU: Let's use it (ph).

POUNDSTONE: Stop it. I can't even think of one.


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

KURTIS: Daria got all three right. We'll give her that (ph).


SAGAL: Daria, thank you so much for playing, and good luck in your terminal acting career.


BAUER: Thank you all. I love you all.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

POUNDSTONE: Bye-bye, Daria.


WILLIE NELSON: (Singing) When the evening sun goes down, you will find me hanging 'round. The nightlife ain't a good life, but it's my life.

SAGAL: Right now, panel, it is time for you to answer some questions about this week's news. Jessi, in the best news for us fathers ever, a psychologist has published a study showing that what may be really good for children?

KLEIN: Fathers.


SAGAL: Fathers.

KLEIN: You said, in good news for us fathers.

SAGAL: Yes, that's what I said.

KLEIN: So that just seemed like a natural answer to the question.

SAGAL: That's true. Yeah, I guess it would be. There's something...

KLEIN: But is that not correct?

SAGAL: ...Something specific that pertains to fathers.

KLEIN: Not totally getting it right.

SAGAL: All right. I'll give you a hint. If you tell these, and you don't have kids, you're a faux pas.


POUNDSTONE: (Laughter).

KLEIN: If you tell these and you don't have kids...

JESSI KLEIN AND PETER SAGAL: ...You're a faux pas.

KLEIN: Jokes - dad jokes, dad jokes.


KLEIN: Dad jokes.

SAGAL: Dad jokes - an article in the Journal of the British Psychological Society argues that dad jokes are good for children. And this is true because it teaches them how to deal with awkward and embarrassing situations.


SAGAL: Also it's actually great exercise...


SAGAL: It's great exercise to roll your eyes that hard. The researcher says that the benefit of exposing kids to dad jokes is readily apparent, to which dads responded, wait a minute, I thought I was a parent.


KLEIN: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

POUNDSTONE: See, that just...


POUNDSTONE: ...Toughened us all up.

SAGAL: It really did.




SAGAL: Do you do - you're a dad, Hari...

KONDABOLU: That's correct.

SAGAL: ...And a comedian.


SAGAL: So do you tell dad jokes?

KONDABOLU: If you're asking me if my career is not doing as well as it did before he was born, yeah. Yeah.


KONDABOLU: Yes. Strangely, his birth has led to jokes that - I mean, I said Cinnamon Doze Crunch earlier.

SAGAL: Yeah, I know.

KONDABOLU: That's not a joke Hari Kondabolu makes.



POUNDSTONE: I've done - I've been guilty of doing mom - every time we used to drive by, in Santa Monica, on a main road, there was a psychic, and it had a neon psychic sign. And every time we went by in the van, I'd go, she knows we're not coming.


SAGAL: Coming up, we solve all of your problems in a therapeutic Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to play. We'll be back in a minute with more 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 Hari Kondabolu, Paula Poundstone and Jessi Klein. And here again is your host at Centennial Hall...


KURTIS: ...In Tucson, Ariz., Peter Sagal.

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

BRANDON: Hey, this is Brandon (ph)...

SAGAL: Hey, Brandon.

BRANDON: ...From Petersburg, Va.

SAGAL: From Petersburg, Va. OK, great to hear from you. What do you do there in Petersburg?

BRANDON: Oh, I'm a before and after school care worker with Champions.


SAGAL: Sir, I'm sorry. People here know what Champions is, but I do not.

BRANDON: Oh, it's a before and after school care program.



SAGAL: I get it. Well, Brandon, welcome to the show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Brandon's topic?

KURTIS: Seek help.

SAGAL: More and more Americans are turning to therapy. No, this is not a BetterHelp online therapy ad like on every other podcast you listen to. We learned this week about a new innovation in therapy. Our panelists are each going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth. You'll win our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

BRANDON: I'm ready. Let's do this.

SAGAL: Let's do this. Let's hear first from Hari Kondabolu.

KONDABOLU: Psychologists used to try to help people who believed they were a winged centaur named Flooflok (ph). But in the burgeoning field of therapeutic Dungeons & Dragons, they encourage it. Do you run away instead of slaying the ogre, even though you just acquired a crystal harpoon and have a +10 agility?


KONDABOLU: Perhaps you're afraid of conflict, or you only know how to deal with conflict by rolling 12-sided die.


KONDABOLU: The therapist also learns a lot about you if you slay the ogre but then yell, take that, mom.


KONDABOLU: Proponents of therapeutic D&D say it can help patients explore gender identity, process social dynamics and set boundaries, both psychological boundaries and actual moats.


KONDABOLU: Some practitioners even believe it can help people overcome trauma, perhaps like the trauma of being made fun of for playing D&D.


SAGAL: D&D therapy, where if you roll a 20, you come to peace with your childhood.


SAGAL: Your next story of what's new on the couch comes from Jessi Klein.

KLEIN: In a world where ketamine and microdosing are revolutionizing treatments for depression and other mood disorders, a new entry in the therapeutic arsenal is making quite a splash. You may know it as simply eating cheese.


KLEIN: Finally, after thousands of years of people instinctively turning to cheese to fix their lives, the mega cheese brand Tillamook, sensing a cash cow in this off-label usage...


KLEIN: ...Pun intended - has unveiled what they're calling a cheese exposure protocol as a way of brightening low mood or at the very least melting something over it. With Zoloft, I have to wait 2 to 4 weeks for the effects to kick in, says Brett Malloy (ph), who's been using cheese to drown his feelings for decades now.


KLEIN: With cheese, I feel better within seconds. Cheese users also talk about the frustrating side effects of traditional antidepressants, such as weight gain. Brie enthusiast Tammy Gaines (ph) says, with Lexapro, I gained at least 10 pounds. With cheese, I've gained just as much, but at least I feel joy.


SAGAL: Cheese therapy...


SAGAL: ...From Jessi Klein. Your last story of analysis innovated comes from Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: ABC has a crazy new program in the works that puts mental health right in the center square, a game show. "It's Pathological" is a fast-paced, high-energy 30-minute romp through dysfunctional relationships, irrational fears, destructive behavior and physical tics. Comedian John Pompatello (ph) presents three contestants from everyday walks of life who answer questions about how they handle life. Your boss tells you that you've done an excellent job. What do you do? Contestant number one. Berate myself mentally?


POUNDSTONE: Contestant number two. Call him an idiot? Contestant number three. Develop a rash?


POUNDSTONE: When contestants give enough answers to meet a diagnostic criteria, a buzzer goes off, and the potential diagnosis is announced. Well, John, contestant number one, may have attachment disorder.


POUNDSTONE: This triggers the healthy practice round, where contestants are given coping strategies and kitchen appliances.


SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: Somebody has come up with a new way of helping people be their best selves. Is it from Hari Kondabolu, D&D therapy, where you learn about yourself by playing D&D; from Jessi Klein, cheese therapy using nature's own antidepressant; or from Paula Poundstone, "It's Pathological," the mental health game show.

BRANDON: This is a difficult one.

SAGAL: It is.


BRANDON: Oh, man. I want to say the cheese, but I'm lactose intolerant.


BRANDON: And I know how that makes me feel. I never feel good eating cheese.


KLEIN: Sorry for your loss.

BRANDON: Oh, let's see here. I'm going to go with the D&D therapy.


SAGAL: You're going to go with Hari's story...

POUNDSTONE: That's ridiculous.

SAGAL: ...The D&D therapy.

POUNDSTONE: That's ridiculous.

SAGAL: All the people here seem to agree. Well, we actually spoke to a professional practitioner of this real therapy.

MEGAN CONNELL: So I started using D&D in therapy...


CONNELL: ...After I was able to gain some from insight into myself from thinking about the different characters I have been playing.

SAGAL: That was Dr. Megan Connell, a board-certified psychologist practicing in North Carolina who uses Dungeons & Dragons during therapy groups. Congratulations. Hari was telling the truth. You got it right.


SAGAL: You won our prize.

BRANDON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

SAGAL: You get a voicemail, which you can have play whenever you're doing what you do during school hours.

BRANDON: Awesome. Appreciate it. That's cool.

SAGAL: Thanks so much for calling and playing. Take care, Brandon.

POUNDSTONE: Bye, Brandon.

KLEIN: Bye, Brandon.

BRANDON: Have a good day, y'all.


JENNY OWEN YOUNGS: (Singing) Dungeons and dragons, ooh. Dungeons and dragons.

SAGAL: And now the game where important people do something totally frivolous. As chief strategist for Barack Obama's presidential campaigns, a senior adviser to the president and a senior political commentator for CNN, there's probably no one who knows D.C. better than our guest, David Axelrod, which explains why he is here, about as far away as possible as he can be...


SAGAL: ...In Arizona. David Axelrod, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

DAVID AXELROD: Thank you. Thank you.


SAGAL: So just to get this out of the way, you're a famous Chicagoan who spends a lot of time in the political circles of the East Coast. But you're in Arizona for spring training every year, right?




SAGAL: Yeah. The last time you were on the show - this was way back in 2009 - you were in the White House. We were in Washington. And one of the things I remember is you were backstage, and you were using two BlackBerries at the same time...


SAGAL: ...One in each hand.

AXELROD: I had to get out 'cause I got carpal tunnel.

SAGAL: Really?


SAGAL: And was that nonsense? Were you were actually talking to anybody, or were you just trying to impress us?

AXELROD: Well, obviously it worked 'cause you brought it up now...

SAGAL: I did.

AXELROD: ...14 years later.


SAGAL: I know.

AXELROD: No. That was the way I lived back then.

SAGAL: Just like...


SAGAL: And you don't do that anymore. You're not - you don't consult with campaigns formally.

AXELROD: I don't - no.

SAGAL: Yeah.

AXELROD: I kibitz.

SAGAL: You kibitz?


SAGAL: So what does kibitzing mean in this context?

AXELROD: Means people call up and say, what do you think about this? And I tell them what I think.

SAGAL: Right.

AXELROD: But I don't have all the anxiety that goes along with actually being involved.

SAGAL: Right.

AXELROD: You know.

SAGAL: So, you know...

AXELROD: It's a pretty good deal.

SAGAL: It's actually great.

AXELROD: Yeah - pays less, though.

SAGAL: Do you find that your advice is better when your own reputation is not on the line?

AXELROD: I find that people don't hold me accountable for my advice as much...

SAGAL: That's important.


AXELROD: ...Which is - that's what being a commentator is all about.

SAGAL: Do you think that you could get anybody elected? Like if I hired you - let's say you were back in the business, and I said, I want Paula Poundstone to be president.


KLEIN: I'm voting for Paula.

SAGAL: Well, all right. How would you get her elected president?

AXELROD: I would limit the vote to the audience of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: Massive disenfranchisement.

POUNDSTONE: Is there something - now, we're assuming that Barack Obama is not going to listen to this episode, so you can say whatever. Is there - do you remember something that you said to him that was pivotal in any way, that was - you know, that had a dramatic effect on what was going on?

AXELROD: I don't know. You know, part of the consulting oath is that you immediately forget those things that you think were pivotal and ascribe everything to the great qualities of your candidate.

POUNDSTONE: That's also part of aging.

AXELROD: I'll tell you what. No, I - there's no doubt that I think I gave him advice along the way. But there were times when he was president when I gave him political advice that he ignored. And I always say I love him so much 'cause he listened to me so little. And one of them, honestly, was on the Affordable Care Act. Seven presidents had tried. Seven presidents had failed. And Obama said, I'm willing to take that...


AXELROD: ...Risk. And I have to tell you, there was a time when we were sitting around that summer of '70 - of 2009, and Obama turned to his legislative director, a guy named Phil Schiliro, and said, Phil, what do you think the chances of us getting this done are? And Phil said, well, it depends how lucky you feel, Mr. President, which isn't exactly the answer you want.

SAGAL: Yeah.

AXELROD: ...If you're the president. And Obama just laughed, and he said, Phil, I'm a Black guy named Barack Hussein Obama, and I'm president of the United States.


AXELROD: He said, I feel lucky every day.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, my gosh.


SAGAL: One of the things you're famous for in Chicago is hanging out at a restaurant we all love called Manny's.

AXELROD: Yeah. Yeah.

SAGAL: And you have, like, your own table there, right?


SAGAL: Yeah.



AXELROD: I've spent a lot of time at Manny's.

SAGAL: Yeah.

AXELROD: I go there to clog my arteries and clear my head.

SAGAL: Right. So - and, like, it's where - it's, like - the mayor used to go. Mayor Daley used to go there all the time.

AXELROD: Yeah. Yeah.

SAGAL: It's, like - the police commissioner goes there. Could you describe Manny's for those who are not fortunate enough to live in Chicago?

AXELROD: Manny's is the - sort of the one great Jewish deli in Chicago, and it's really a cross-section. It's the only place where you could see the police superintendent or the U.S. attorney at one table and the leader of organized crime at the other.

SAGAL: Right.


AXELROD: And because it has a diverse customer base, for politicians, it's a great place to go. So when I got - when I moved over from journalism to consulting, I'd bring my candidates all the time there because it was a great place to meet a cross-section of the city.

SAGAL: Right, exactly. And so when you have - does anybody else have their own table, or is it just you?

AXELROD: I don't think so. I think that there - it's like these frequent-flyer things. You get to a certain point.

SAGAL: And they give - yeah, I understand. Yeah.

AXELROD: Yeah. It's hard to attain. It's hard to attain.

SAGAL: If you've eaten...


SAGAL: ...10,000 pastrami sandwiches...

AXELROD: I worked hard for that table.

SAGAL: ...And you're still alive, they give you...

AXELROD: I worked hard for it.

SAGAL: If you show up at Manny's, where they have your own table, and there's somebody at your table, what do they do?

AXELROD: They kick their ass out.

SAGAL: Do they really?


AXELROD: But I'll tell you something. When I was in the White House, Manny's would send me care packages...



AXELROD: ...Yeah, and including - every Wednesday at Manny's, for those who are interested and are in Chicago, they have these gigantic turkey legs...

SAGAL: Yeah.

AXELROD: ...The size of a club.

SAGAL: Right.

AXELROD: You've seen those.

SAGAL: Very Fred Flintstone. Yeah.

AXELROD: They're my favorite. Yeah. So I was in the White House once, and a reporter was in my office getting ready to write a story that was very downbeat about where we were at that particular time. And he was a Jewish reporter. I thought I could kind of soften him up with mayonnaise.

SAGAL: Yeah.

AXELROD: President comes in, and I'm holding this turkey leg...


AXELROD: ...In my hand, and he said, what is this, King Arthur's court here?


SAGAL: Part deli, part ren fair - it's fun. It's fun. Well, David Axelrod, it is always fun to talk to you, but we have once again invited you here to play a game. And this time, we are calling it...

KURTIS: Axelrod Meet Axl Rose.


SAGAL: No more explanation is necessary. We're going to ask you three questions about the legendary frontman for Guns N' Roses. If you get two right, you'll win that coveted prize of what we older people call a voicemail...


SAGAL: ...For one of our listeners. Bill, who is David Axelrod playing for?

KURTIS: Alice Peach (ph) of Yuma, Ariz.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: Here's your first question. Guns N' Roses - you a Guns N' Roses fan, by any chance?

AXELROD: For the purposes of this, yes.

SAGAL: Yes, absolutely.


SAGAL: You are a politician. All right. Here's your first question. Guns N' Roses were notorious for starting concerts late, usually due to hard partying. But once in 1991, Axl Rose forced the band to delay a concert so he could what? A, clean up the kitchen where he personally cooked a meal for the roadies, B, write handwritten thank-you notes to all the groupies from the night before, or C, finish watching "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret Of The Ooze"?


AXELROD: I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt...


AXELROD: ...And say A.

SAGAL: You're going to say A. He had to clean the kitchen from where he, Axl Rose, personally had cleaned up?

AXELROD: All right. I'm going with C.

SAGAL: You're right.


SAGAL: He was watching "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2." Somebody went down to ask him, could you start the show? They're all waiting. And that person came and reported back, Axl's attention was 100% in the movie, and he could not be bothered.


SAGAL: Focus - key to success. Here's your next question. Axl Rose was once praised for his incredible vocal range and stage presence, some of which he credits to what item he has included on his rider for every show? A, 40 pounds of marshmallow Peeps, B, square-shaped melons, or C, a framed portrait of Robert Goulet with the caption, you got this, bro.


AXELROD: What was A again?

SAGAL: A was 40 pounds of marshmallow peeps.

AXELROD: All right. What do you guys say?


AXELROD: All right. I'm going with the Peeps.

SAGAL: You're going on with the Peeps. No, it was actually square melons.

AXELROD: Oh, [expletive]. Why do I listen to you guys?

SAGAL: Yeah. No. He - apparently, he insisted on these square melons, which you can only get from Japan. We have no idea why. All right. Last question. If you get this right, you win. You pull out the victory. Here we go.

AXELROD: I better do it. I feel pressure.

SAGAL: No, none. No pressure. Here's your last question. Some of Axl Rose's lyrics have become iconic, included the repeated use of the phrase, where do we go now, at the end of the hit "Sweet Child O' Mine." According to legend, what inspired that refrain? A, his own general sense of existential dismay at becoming a huge rock star and yet living without true purpose...


SAGAL: ...B, the end of his favorite movie, Robert Redford's "The Candidate," where famously, Redford says after winning the election, what do we do now? Or C, he didn't know what to sing next, so he just kept repeating, where do we go now, and the band thought it sounded cool.



AXELROD: Well, it's got to be B.


AXELROD: Like, it's got to be - wait. What did you say?


SAGAL: They're all shouting C.

AXELROD: All right. I'm going C.


SAGAL: That's right. It was C. Of course it was C.


SAGAL: One concert, he just sort of went up, didn't know what to do next. Where do we go now? Where do we go now? And the band was like, OK, that's the song now. Bill, how did David Axelrod do with Axl Rose?

KURTIS: Two out of three means you are a winner on this stage. The vote is in.

SAGAL: All you got to do is get a majority.

AXELROD: I couldn't do it without all of you.


SAGAL: It was people power. David Axelrod is a political kibbitzer and the host of the podcasts "Hacks On Tap" and "The Axe Files." David Axelrod, thank you so much for joining us again.

AXELROD: Thank you.

SAGAL: It was great to see you. David Axelrod, everybody.


SAGAL: In just a minute, we reveal a gross secret of Mount Everest 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. And I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Paula Poundstone, Jessi Klein and Hari Kondabolu. And here again is your host at Centennial Hall in Tucson, Ariz., Peter Sagal.


SAGAL: Thank you, Bill. Thank you, everybody. In just a minute, Bill goes rhyme to rhyme in the Grand Canyon 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. Jessi, the Supreme Court this week wrestled with a difficult question of the law weighing the rights of Jack Daniel's whiskey versus those of a company that makes what?

KLEIN: The answer to that is dog toys.

SAGAL: Yes, right, a squeaky dog toy. The company that makes Jack Daniel's whiskey sued a company that makes Silly Squeakers brand dog toys because of a toy that looked like a Jack Daniel's bottle but was called bad spaniels. And instead of 40% alcohol by volume, it says on the label, 43% poo by volume. So the case is about parody, free expression. The bigger issue is that they didn't think to say bad spaniels was 80 woof.


SAGAL: Right?

KLEIN: I was reading about this. And what really got me was the Supreme Court is - I mean, they are hand-wringing over this case with the dog toy and the Jack Daniel's. But then when it came to like Roe v. Wade, they were like, oh, yeah, take that away.


KLEIN: Oh, yeah, woman's right to choose? Oh, that's gone. But oh, God. What do we do about the squeaky dog toy parody case?


SAGAL: But you're right. You're right. I mean, we don't know how they're going to rule. We know Justice Kavanaugh likes beer. He will likely also side with whiskey because of the boilermaker doctrine.


SAGAL: Paula, The Wall Street Journal has discovered what they call the, quote, "saboteur of the American diet," unquote, the one thing that is making us all fat and sick. What is it?

POUNDSTONE: Oh, gee, I can't imagine.


KLEIN: You start narrowing down from everything.


POUNDSTONE: Could it be everything that goes into my mouth during the day? Oh, give me a hint, Peter. Give me a hint.

SAGAL: All right. Abandon all hope, all ye who enter this Subway franchise.

POUNDSTONE: So Subway sandwiches?


SAGAL: Sandwiches, yes.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, sandwiches.

SAGAL: Sandwiches are terrible for you.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, well, you don't need the bread.

SAGAL: You may - they may look innocent. It's what your mom gave you for lunch. Right? But it turns out they call it a club sandwich because it's about to club you to death. People think of sandwiches, oh, that's a relatively healthy choice, right? But no, the bread is just processed sugar and carbs. The meats are salted sheets of cholesterol. And that American cheese just got a concealed carry permit.


POUNDSTONE: But I don't put that kind of stuff. I like a fluffernutter. I put...


POUNDSTONE: Right? The peanut butter and the marshmallow fluff.

SAGAL: Here's the crazy thing.

POUNDSTONE: There's no salt.

SAGAL: The article said that an actual, much healthier alternative - and this is close to a fluffernutter - is a peanut butter and jelly.


SAGAL: It's true.

KLEIN: Someone just was so amped.

SAGAL: I know. Peanut butter and jelly. And they say this because peanut butter is actually - it's good for you. It's high in fat, but it's also got high in protein, right?

KLEIN: Yeah.


SAGAL: But - and this is what they say. Jelly has sugar, but they're sort of like self-limiting. No one puts a half-inch of jelly or fluffernut - well, maybe you do.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, yeah, I do put a half inch.

SAGAL: Hari, a group of hairdressers shared their pet peeves about clients on TikTok this week, and they revealed that among the worst things you can do while getting your hair washed is what?

KONDABOLU: Fall asleep?


KONDABOLU: Pass gas?

SAGAL: That's actually better because if they do that, their eyes are closed.

KONDABOLU: Right. Look at them?

SAGAL: Right. Exactly. Maintain solid eye contact. Apparently, your hairstylist hates it when they're washing your hair and you're just staring at them in the eye.

KONDABOLU: Who does that? People do that?

SAGAL: Monsters. Apparently, people do.

POUNDSTONE: I thought it was going to be moaning.

SAGAL: Really?

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. I thought it was going to be like, you know, they're doing your - because it does feel good when they massage your...

SAGAL: So wait a minute. Tell me more about this massage. I feel like one of these aliens asking a human, what is love?


KONDABOLU: Well, like, you get your head back there. And they're just, like - I don't know if it's in all the place - like, the place I go does this.


KONDABOLU: And, you know, you put your head back. And then they put the soap in. I like when they use the minty soap. And then they just kind of massage your brain. They get really into your brain. And...

POUNDSTONE: OK, but you go to Hattie's Erotic Mint Brain Massage (ph).

KLEIN: We have something to tell about about where you've been getting your hair cut.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah. Do you ever notice that when you come out, your hair is the same length?


SAGAL: They watch you go, and they're like, he'll be back in a couple of days.


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-WAITWAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Or click the contact us link on our website, waitwait.npr.org. You can see us most weeks back at the beautiful Studebaker Theater in Chicago and in Nashville, Tenn., April 27 at TPAC. Tickets and info at nprpresents.org.

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

CARL: Hi, my name's Carl (ph). I live in Edmond, Okla.

SAGAL: Where is Edmond, Okla.?

CARL: It's north of Oklahoma City.

SAGAL: OK, north of Oklahoma City. And what do you do there?

CARL: I am an academic librarian and a former professional yo-yo player.


SAGAL: Wow. All right.


KONDABOLU: Lead with the yo-yo.

SAGAL: I don't know I've ever talked to somebody of that profession before. Academic librarian - tell me about it.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Carl. 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 will be a winner. Ready to play?

CARL: You bet.

SAGAL: Here is your first limerick.

KURTIS: On Mount Everest, everything freezes since the temp's below zero degreeses (ph). It keeps each achoo from each nose that we blew. It holds dozens of years of old...

CARL: Sneezes?

SAGAL: Sneezes.


SAGAL: Sneezes.


SAGAL: If you thought that the piles of garbage and dead bodies were the worst thing up on the top of Mount Everest, look more closely. Germs from decades of humans sneezes and coughs are preserved now in the mountain biome, which is both disgusting and fascinating. It's disgustinating (ph).


KLEIN: It's like a giant salad bar.

SAGAL: It really is. Yes. They're thinking of putting an enormous sneeze guard up there.

KLEIN: Big tongs.

SAGAL: Exactly. Yeah. So this is something to factor in if you decide to make that trip to the summit of Everest. Sure, you get the memory of a lifetime, but you will also get mono.


SAGAL: Here is your next limerick.

KURTIS: This bandage seems slapdash and handmade with wiring that's pulled from a lampshade. Electrical jolts get fantastic results, and I've got a new fast-healing...

CARL: Band-Aid?

SAGAL: Band-Aid.




SAGAL: Scientists at Northwestern University have developed an electronic smart Band-Aid that speeds up healing by zapping you with electricity. How did they figure this out? Did they run around people saying, hey, is that an open wound? Can I electrify that? A smart Band-Aid is fine. What you don't want is a smart-ass Band-Aid. Way to ride a skateboard, idiot.


SAGAL: All right. Here is your last limerick.

SAGAL: This shellfish is food for a snobster, and it's steamed alive like a rogue mobster. Since the taste makes us sputter, we bathe it in butter. Because nobody really likes...

CARL: Lobster.

SAGAL: Right. The theory is - that a lot of people now subscribe to - is that people only think they like lobster because, first, it's really expensive, and thus we assume it has value. And second, you eat it covered in melted butter, which makes anything taste great.

POUNDSTONE: I stopped eating lobster because I try not to eat anything that if it were alive would rather you didn't.


POUNDSTONE: But the truth is I certainly did enjoy the taste of it when I did eat it. As much as - and I do love butter as well.

KONDABOLU: Has anyone tried eating a lobster without butter?

SAGAL: That would be one way of testing, only paying $5 for it. And then you're like, oh, it's not such a big deal. It's just some big bug with no butter.


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

KURTIS: Carl was on top of it - three in a row and very quickly, too.

SAGAL: Wow. Thank you so much for playing, Carl.

POUNDSTONE: Bye, Carl. Thank you.

CARL: Bye-bye.

SAGAL: You're welcome.


BTS: (Singing) A side step, right-left, to my beat. High like the moon. Rock with me, baby. Know I got that heat. Let me show you 'cause talk is cheap.

SAGAL: Now on to our final game, Lightning Fill In The Blank. Each of our players will have 60 seconds in which to answer as many fill-in-the-blank questions as they can. Each correct answer is now worth 2 points. Bill, can you give us the scores?

KURTIS: Paula has two. Harry and Jessi each have three.

SAGAL: All right, Paula, you're up first. Fill in the blank. On Wednesday, an appeals court ruled that lawyer Evan Corcoran must turn over records related to blank's handling of classified documents.



SAGAL: Right. On Monday, President Biden used his blank power for the first time as president.



SAGAL: Yes. This week, a judge in Wyoming temporarily blocked that state's new blank ban.



SAGAL: Yes. According to a new study, vaccination and paxlovid help reduce the risk of long blank.



SAGAL: Right. This week, an impaired driver in Ohio was arrested after crashing into blank.


SAGAL: No, a highway sign warning about impaired drivers.



SAGAL: On Thursday, the launching of a new website for video rental company blank sparked rumours of a comeback

POUNDSTONE: Blockbuster.


SAGAL: Right. Following a ski accident in Park City, Goop founder blank appeared at a court in Utah on Tuesday.

POUNDSTONE: Gwyneth Paltrow.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: This week, a lost cockatiel was returned to her owner after somebody was able to identify it thanks to its blank.

POUNDSTONE: It had a banner that it pulls through the sky.

SAGAL: No. They identified the lost cockatiel thanks to its love of Billy Joel music. The woman took two days off work to look for the bird. She hung posters that included the fact that this cockatiel loved music especially, as do we all - Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl." The people that found him started - they saw this cockatiel. They started playing "Uptown Girl." The cockatiel started dancing to it. They knew it was the right bird.


SAGAL: And they immediately called the bird a fake fan for not being into deeper cuts like "Captain Jack."



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

KURTIS: Very well. She got six right, 12 more points, total to 14 puts her in the lead.


SAGAL: I am arbitrarily choosing Hari to go next. Hari, fill in the blank.

KONDABOLU: All right.

SAGAL: Following a three-day diplomatic visit with Putin, blank left Russia on Wednesday.

KONDABOLU: The prime minister of China.


SAGAL: Yes, Xi Jinping. After last-minute talks failed, tens of thousands of teachers in blank went on strike.

KONDABOLU: New York City. No, that's not true. Chicago.

SAGAL: It's Los Angeles. You would have gotten there eventually. Despite the ongoing banking crisis, the Federal Reserve chose to raise blanks on Wednesday.

KONDABOLU: Interest rates.


SAGAL: Right. On Tuesday, the president of blank criticized a U.S. report on human rights abuses in that country.


SAGAL: No, Mexico. This week, an Amazon driver in North Carolina was praised after he attempted to deliver a package in the middle of blank.

KONDABOLU: A hurricane.

SAGAL: No, in the middle of a police standoff.


SAGAL: It's amazing. Police were lined up around the building, guns drawn. He wandered in - package.



SAGAL: On Tuesday, President Biden and the secretary of the interior designated two new national blanks.


SAGAL: Close enough - monuments. According to a new study, walking and blanking at the same time gets more difficult after 55.

KONDABOLU: Chewing gum.

SAGAL: No, talking.


SAGAL: That's why I stand still. A restaurant manager in New Jersey was confused why the store phone had not rung during what is usually a busy rush shift, only to realize blank.

KONDABOLU: That he was in the wrong restaurant.

SAGAL: No, that He had packed their phone into a customer's order.



SAGAL: It's frustrating for the staff of Neri's Cafe and Mexican Grill and for people calling in to order. But fortunately, the customer had ordered tacos with a side of constantly ringing phone, so he gave them a great review on Yelp. Bill, how did Hari do on our quiz?

KURTIS: He got three right, 6 more points, total of nine trails Paula.

SAGAL: All right. How many, then, does Jessi need to take it all away?

KURTIS: Six to win.

KLEIN: Oh, boy.

SAGAL: All right, Jessi, this is for the game. Fill in the blank. According to a U.N. report, immediate action is needed to prevent catastrophic blank

KLEIN: Climate change.


SAGAL: Right. On Tuesday, a Virginia man was sentenced over four years in prison for his part in the assault on the blank.

KLEIN: The Capitol.


SAGAL: Right. This week, Governor Ron DeSantis pushed for an expansion of his so-called blank bill in Florida schools.

KLEIN: Don't say gay.


SAGAL: Right. Hoping to stave off a ban, the CEO of social media app blank testified before Congress on Thursday.

KLEIN: TikTok.


SAGAL: Right. This week, the daughter of director Sofia Coppola posted her first TikTok saying that she had been grounded for blanking.

KLEIN: For being on TikTok.

SAGAL: No, for trying to charter a helicopter using her dad's credit card. On Thursday, Paramount revealed they were remaking Alfred Hitchcock's classic film blank.

KLEIN: "The Birds."

SAGAL: No, "Vertigo." At the Kennedy Center on Sunday, blank was awarded the Mark Twain Prize in American Humor.

KLEIN: Adam Sandler.


SAGAL: Yes. This week, a woman in the U.K. searching for her lost cat went beyond hanging posters and tried to find him by blanking.

KLEIN: By posting on Nextdoor, which you should never do.

SAGAL: No, close. She made him a profile on Grindr.


SAGAL: And that's ironic and unusual because Grindr is usually only used for finding bears.


SAGAL: A woman created a profile for her missing cat, complete with his likes and dislikes. That said, we should be clear. In this case, DTF stands for down to find my missing cat.


POUNDSTONE: I don't know what DTF means.



POUNDSTONE: I'll just make a note of stuff that no one will talk to me about. Hold on.


SAGAL: Google that while we do this. Bill, did Jessi do well enough to win?

KURTIS: She got five, right, 10 more points, missed it by one. The total of 13 trails Paula. Paula's our champion.

SAGAL: Oh, my God.


SAGAL: Now, panel, what will be the next revolution in food? Jessi Klein.

KLEIN: I think in anticipation of Passover, there's going to be, like, an aphrodisiac matzo so that, like, after the Seder, you're just, like, ready to go.

SAGAL: You're DTF.


KLEIN: You're DTF to find the...

SAGAL: DTF the afikoman.

KLEIN: Yeah.

SAGAL: I got you. Yeah. Hari Kondabolu.

KONDABOLU: Chocolate-covered Lipitor.


SAGAL: And Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: Breakfast Fritos.


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 Jessi Klein, Hari Kondabolu...


SAGAL: ...And Paula Poundstone. Thanks to the staff and crew here at Centennial Hall at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Thanks to everybody at Arizona Public Media. Thanks to all of you for listening.


SAGAL: I'm Peter Sagal. I'm so glad to be back with you. And we will be back next week.


SAGAL: This is NPR.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org 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.