Backstage buzz at Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

September 30, 2011

Hey blog readers! It's been awhile since we went behind the scenes of your favorite public radio news quiz, so let's catch up.

WHAT'S THE SAME?

The show still sells out every Chicago performance.  We still keep rocking' it in locales far and wide (from Portland to Nashville to Fairbanks, Alaska!).  Peter is still a cranky comic genius; Carl is still the most genial, lovely man on the planet; Paula still cracks everyone up.

This past year, the show has chugged along as NPR's most popular show and every week a little over 3 million people (I'm thinking it's like 3 million people and an eight year old nerdy kid who answers every question in class) tune in and laugh out loud in their cars as motorists around them think they've lost their minds.

Ah!  but...

WHAT'S NEW?

The year has brought in some new panelists - Maz Jobrani, Alonzo Bodden, Faith Salie, Jessi Klein and my man, Brian Babylon.  They all have their own personal style and flair and the hazing has included Amy Dickinson forcing them all to take her advice, Roy Blount, Jr. doing the "What's that on your shirt?" trick, and Charlie Pierce poking each in the forehead repeatedly.

In the lobby, we have a new program design (remember when our programs were only a one-sheet folded over?) and some new merchandise displays sent over by NPR.  A moment to describe that project:

When I started with WWDTM, the merch table was comprised of a table and some boxes.  It graduated to plastic tubs, 150% more stuff, four tables and some banners.  A couple of weeks ago, NPR sent me some "displays."  One would think, with pricey displays, that A) there would be some instructions in one of the 17 boxes that detailed how to put them together and B) an equipment list that detailed exactly what was included.  Not with this project.

I suspect that the guys packing the display parts went over to a giant pile of parts and just randomly threw stuff in boxes and shipped it off.  Not enough customized bolts to put things together.  No pictures of even what the things were supposed to look like when we were finished.  Sort of like a box of Tinker Toys - make your own display!

After a couple of days of back and forth, the Chase Bank Auditorium Manager, John Zajac and I managed to cull together enough parts to put some of the displays together so when you come to live show, buy something off of the displays. They are a product of great frustration and mental anguish.

Finally, just a heads up - the 2012 Gift Certificates will be on sale November 1st.  These are the regular priced, open-ended tickets you can buy for your friends and family.  You buy them, download the handy PDF file, print it out, WRITE THE CONFIRMATION CODE ON IT (sorry for the All Caps but, man, if I had a quarter for everyone who received a gift certificate but no actual proof they were given one, I could buy, like, a latte or something...) and stick it under the tree or whatever celebratory symbol you use in your house to denote the December Solstice.

Come see the live show in Chicago and when you do, say hi.

Also - in spite of what a recent attendee swears by, I do not think I look anything like John Malkovich.

Rock!

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