PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we invite people to look back on their rich, full lives and ask themselves, how in the world did it lead them here? Tony Hawk more or less invented the sport of professional skateboarding. He was the first person to land a 900...
SAGAL: ...Which I am told is very impressive and the first person to skateboard in the grounds of the White House. Well, the first person to get permission to do so.
SAGAL: He was born and raised in San Diego and still lives close to the skate park where he learned to ride.
Tony Hawk, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL.
TONY HAWK: Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.
SAGAL: So Tony you are 50 now, so what is it like being a skater in your 50s?
HAWK: It's - it's tough to stay up on new tricks. It's tough to stay relevant.
SAGAL: I find it tough to go up and down stairs at my age.
SAGAL: I am gripping the rail with both hands.
HAWK: I have my days of soreness, but I think it's - I never quit. That's my only secret.
SAGAL: Yeah, I understand you go around, and you do a lot of public speaking, as well.
HAWK: I do. Yeah. Yeah.
SAGAL: To whom? Who wants Tony Hawk to come and speak?
HAWK: It's strange. Once you're connected into that world, you start making the rounds. And I've done speaking gigs at credit unions. I've done speaking gigs....
HAWK: That's true - Internet security companies.
SAGAL: OK. I have nothing against credit unions and Internet security companies. Some of them have all my money, and the other has all my passwords, but...
SAGAL: What do they want to hear from Tony Hawk, a professional skateboarding icon?
HAWK: Honestly, if you're at a credit union and a professional skateboarder comes up, they think that's, like, so far beyond cool. You can kind of say anything. Like, yeah, bro. It's sick. I do mad kickflips, and they're like that's awesome.
SAGAL: You could get away with that.
HAWK: I've never said that in a speech. I'm just giving an example, yeah.
SAGAL: You could. It does occur to me that given if you're speaking to audiences like that or frankly me, you could make up anything you wanted...
HAWK: Sure, yeah.
SAGAL: ...And I would buy it. Like, you know, I was the first person to do a half left Bolivian, and I'd be like wow. Whatever the heck.
HAWK: If you ever hear someone say fandango, that's sort of the code word from experienced skateboarders when they're making fun of you.
SAGAL: So how would that come up? So how would that be used?
HAWK: Oh, like - oh, you skate. Yeah, you skate. You know, what kind of tricks can do you do? Oh, I can do back stand fandangos, you know, and...
HAWK: And if the other person's nodding, you clearly know that they're not a skateboarder...
SAGAL: Oh, wow.
HAWK: ...That they're pretending to - yeah.
SAGAL: So this is very - you just ruined it, though, for America.
SAGAL: Like, half - a hundred thousand people just went, oh, my God, that guy was lying to me.
LUKE BURBANK: Tony, can I ask you a quick question? I was an obsessed skateboarder as a kid, and I wanted to build a half-pipe ramp in our backyard, which would have taken up the entire backyard. My dad never let me do it. Do you think if he would've let me build that ramp, I would be sitting where you're sitting right now?
HAWK: Absolutely, yeah.
BURBANK: Will you tell him that? I'm going to call him really quick.
HAWK: Yeah, let's call him up.
SAGAL: Do you still practice skating every day?
HAWK: Almost every day, yeah. We have many children, so usually our days are focused on them. But yeah, absolutely. I was skating yesterday, and I'm going to be skating tomorrow on my ramp in Vista, yes.
SAGAL: I don't know if any other father has ever had to deal with this problem, but is there a problem that you are so cool?
HAWK: Not to our kids.
HAWK: No. No.
SAGAL: Really. Not even - even your kids. Your kids, I mean.
HAWK: Yeah, and sometimes, though....
SAGAL: You're Tony Hawk for Christ's sake. What more do they want?
HAWK: I have to say they are jaded because sometimes I get opportunities, and it's not necessarily something I want to do but it's a video - you know, it's a movie premiere that I feel like they'll be excited about. I say, hey, do you guys want to go? We got invited to the "Incredibles" premiere. I don't know. I'll see what's going on that day.
SAGAL: Really? What?
SAGAL: Hey, would you like to go to this amusement park where there's a ride I created that's named for me?
HAWK: And there'll be no line. Well, I don't know. How long is the drive?
SAGAL: I do want to ask you one last thing. Is it true that you were the first person to be allowed to skateboard in the White House?
HAWK: I wouldn't say allowed.
SAGAL: What happened?
HAWK: Well, I - so I was there during the previous administration. They had a bunch of prominent or celebrity-type fathers coming, and they were talking to a lot of different charities around D.C. But everyone converged at the White House for - in the morning. And I brought my skateboard because every time I go somewhere without my skateboard, people ask me that.
HAWK: Where's your skateboard? And so I wasn't going to get caught there, especially with the president...
SAGAL: No, sure.
HAWK: And suddenly, I found myself in a hallway unattended.
HAWK: And I was kind of looking around, I had - there were other - a couple other pro basketball players in the same group. And I said, hey, will you take my phone and shoot a photo if I skate...
HAWK: ...Sure. And I skated. And it went viral.
SAGAL: Of course, it did.
SAGAL: And did you ever get in any trouble?
HAWK: I didn't. They kind of ignored it.
HAWK: Yeah, I think they just didn't - they didn't want to say that I ever had permission. They didn't want to acknowledge that I did it, but I would do it again. No. Not now. No, but I would do it again.
SAGAL: Well, Tony Hawk, it's a pleasure to have you here again.
HAWK: Thank you.
SAGAL: This time...
HAWK: Thank you.
SAGAL: This time, Tony Hawk, we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Why Hello, You Fancy Bird.
SAGAL: Tony Hawk, obviously, your name, but it's also a phrase that here means a fancy bird, a Tony Hawk. Perhaps you've never...
HAWK: Is Tony fancy?
SAGAL: Tony is a word that means fancy.
HAWK: All right.
SAGAL: Tony Hawk is a fancy bird. I can't believe you've never realized that before.
SAGAL: At any rate, we're going to ask you three questions about other fancy birds. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they might choose in their voicemail. Bill, who is Tony Hawk playing for?
KURTIS: Tim Latshaw of Grand Rapids, Mich.
SAGAL: All right, are you ready to play?
HAWK: All right.
SAGAL: Tony, we all know that the Queen of England loves her corgi dogs, but she also has a strong connection with some fancy birds. What is it? A, at any time, she can choose to wear a, quote, "living crown," which is a crested pigeon trained to sit on her head...
SAGAL: ...B, by law she owns every swan in Britain; or C, among her body guards, the Queen's own eagle regiment, a squad of 12 trained attack birds?
HAWK: Wow. I really want it to be C.
SAGAL: You want it to be C.
SAGAL: The eagle regiment.
HAWK: I'm going to go with it because it just sounds so great.
SAGAL: Your little eagles will have those funny hats...
HAWK: Yes, please.
SAGAL: ...Where they march. No.
SAGAL: It's absolutely B. By regal decree since the 1300s, every British monarch technically owns every swan in Britain. They're all royal property.
SAGAL: So if you fool with a swan, you might get hit with a very famous purse, so don't do it.
SAGAL: Two more questions, although I appreciate your spirit there in choosing the dumber one but that's - all right. Next question - swiftlets. Swiftlets are fancy cave-dwelling birds in Southeast Asia. They're prized primarily for their what? A, they're the only birds known to lay square eggs, good for stacking....
SAGAL: ...B, their saliva is used to make a very expensive gourmet soup; or C, swiftlet feathers are super absorbent and used to make the first Swiffer mops?
HAWK: Bird's nest soup. I've actually had it.
SAGAL: Yes, you're right.
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SAGAL: It is B.
SAGAL: The swiftlets make mess with their our own saliva. That saliva is then used to make bird's nest soup, an Asian delicacy - very good. Last question - if you get this right, you win. The capercaillie is the world's largest grouse. It's a kind of ground-dwelling bird. And the capercaillie has been filmed doing which of these amazing feats? A, a triple axel while skating across a frozen lake...
SAGAL: ...B, eating an entire anteater, earning it the name anteater eater...
SAGAL: ...Or C, beating BBC natural historian David Attenborough in a fight.
HAWK: Wow. San Diego, I need some help.
HAWK: C. I really want to believe these other scenarios, though.
SAGAL: I know. It would be lovely.
HAWK: Yes, C. That sounds - that sounds more reasonable.
SAGAL: That's exactly right. It is C.
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SAGAL: But to be fair, Attenborough was kind of asking for it. He...
SAGAL: ...Was doing one of his nature's special talking about if capercaillie is very protective of its territory during mating season. He walks right up to them, and the capercaillie beats the hell out of him. It's really...
SAGAL: ...Knocks him flat on his butt. Bill, how did Tony Hawk do on our quiz?
KURTIS: He gets away with a win - 2 out of 3. You're a winner.
HAWK: I want to say it's Tony Hawk and San Diego.
SAGAL: Tony Hawk did it with the people of San Diego.
SAGAL: Tony Hawk is, of course, a legendary skateboarder in his new mobile game.
SAGAL: Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is available now on all the platforms. Tony Hawk, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SAGAL: In just a minute, it's a heavy metal 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.
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