Wait, wait! Crowd loves local taping of show
NPR program from Power Center will air nationwide Saturday
BY ANNE RUETER
News Staff Reporter
The clapping, the cheers, the whistles opened up like a faucet when stars of the popular “Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me” radio news quiz show walked on the Power Center stage Thursday. For nearly two hours, a capacity crowd reveled in rapid-fire wit as host Peter Sagal, scorekeeper Carl Kasell and their guests produced a show for broadcast Saturday across the nation on National Public Radio.
If the audience was thrilled, Sagal and crew were even more so. “You’ve paid money to be here and see a radio show being taped,” Sagal marveled, pointing out that radio was invented so people could stay home.
The audience at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival event wanted to pull aside the veil of radio and see the people who make them chortle each Saturday. See them they did.
“He (Sagal) has a face made for radio,” quipped Ann Arborite Steve Lewis later. “I expected him to be taller and hairier.”
The balding Sagal - along with panelists Roxanne Roberts, Adam Felber and Mo Rocca - did bring this week’s Supreme Court decision on affirmative action into their irreverent, satirical sights, as many fans anticipated. But briefly: “The ruling said ... you can accomplish your goal, but don’t tell anyone how you’re doing it,” joked Sagal.
“All of them just clicked,” said Teri Papp, an executive secretary at Eastern Michigan University and dedicated fan.
“Wait, Wait” tickets sold out the Power Center’s 1,380 seats more than two weeks ago - a surprise for festival staff and sponsors at WEMU and WUOM.
Other Summer Festival public-radio gambits, appearances by “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross and Ira Glass of “This American Life,” were also big sellers, but didn’t sell out, said Evy Warshawski, the festival’s executive director.
The quizzes for call-in listeners and panelists turned up the show’s usual winning mix of weird trivia and improv humor: Topics included diapers to fight forest fires, Michigan’s giant fungus and the tastes of metro-sexuals. Peter Schickele, the well-known composer and musical satirist in town for his own show at the festival tonight, sparred with Sagal while lounging in a chair, then hopped up to sing a round with singers David Dusing and Michele Eaton.
“It furthered my crush on Mo Rocca,” said Nora Waite of Ann Arbor after the show. Rocca, who wrung quite a few laughs from his chartreuse pants and Detroit Tigers T-shirt, won the most points in the show’s panelist quizzes on people and events in the week’s news.
So agreeable was the audience that hardly anyone left the hall when the cast and crew re-taped portions of the show afterward - when, according to Sagal, “We apply egregious Band-Aids to cover up our egregious lapses in taste.”
It wasn’t hard to convince the “Wait, Wait” crew of 10 to come here, said Warshawski: “It’s a big NPR state, so there are a lot of listeners to these shows.”
"Wait, Wait" airs Saturday at 11 a.m. on WEMU, 89.1-FM. and at 3 p.m. on WUOM, 91.7-FM. Anne Rueter can be reached at (734) 994-6759 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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