Saturdays are radio days for me and the wife. We wake up to Car Talk with the Tappet brothers, have a little Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me just before lunch, and enjoy a healthy serving of This American Life as a late afternoon snack.
So when the wife found out that Wait Wait was coming to DC (it normally tapes in Chicago - shout out to Sue Ellen), it didn't matter that tickets cost an arm and a leg, we ponied up the embarrasing asking price (at least embarrasing on a student's budget) and made our way to GW's Lisner auditorium last Thursday to see the show. Ended up worth every penny. Seeing the moderator, Peter Sagal and the panelists (Charlie Pierce, Roxanne Roberts, and Tom Bodett this time around) interact with each other, the callers, and the audience live added a whole new element to Wait Wait. It made funny funnier.
The program is a game show of sorts that questions both callers and panelists on the happenings of the past week. The only real prize is the opportunity to have long-time NPR newsman Carl Kasell record the message on your home answering machine in his deep baritone voice. The show essentially revolves around adlibbed exchanges and the improvised commentary of the panelists (all writers and/or pundits) and Peter Sagal. Being the sucker for politics that I am, I eat it up.
Attending the taping changed my conception of the show, however. It's aired as an hour long program, yet the taping runs some two hours. To whittle it down they edit out the dead air, flat jokes and worst miscues (splicing in retakes recorded at the end of each taping). The final product is a tight broadcast that you wouldn't have guessed was cut. Listening to the show as it aired two days later, though, was a wholly different experience. Good in its own right, but without some of the depth that came from seeing it live.
Favorite thing about seeing Wait Wait though was, hands down, meeting Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell afterwards. Good natured fellows who were even up for a photograph. Who knows... maybe we'll have Carl on our answering machine one day.