“Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” is billed as “NPR’s comedy news show.” It’s hosted by Peter Sagal, a writerly jack of all trades, and recorded live at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago. Along with Sagal, a rotating cast of comedians across all forms of media sits on panel to add quippy commentary. The panel rotates between several personalities, but often includes Amy Dickinson, Maz Jobrani, Mo Rocca, and Paula Poundstone. Each panelist chimes in throughout the game show in response to call-in listeners or to participate in the game as well. Celebrity guests also play to win on behalf of callers. Guests cover all corners of pop culture and have included Tom Hanks (who recently hosted in place of Sagal), Anthony Bourdain, Rob Lowe, Simone Biles, and Run the Jewels.
Throughout the show, listeners answer current events questions with the hope of winning the voice of Carl Kassell on their voicemail. It’s a novelty prize. The uninitiated don’t know or care about this veteran broadcaster, but longtime listeners take it as one of the badges of having joined in the fun. Keeping score is another omnipresent voice, Bill Kurtis. Kurtis is recognizable as the narrator of Cold Case Files and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. NPR writes, “Essentially, if you hear Bill Kurtis saying your name, you’ve either committed a terrible crime, or you’re Will Ferrell.”
The same four or so games are played each episode, including Bluff the Listener, Listener Limerick, or Not My Job. Players are asked to guess true news stories from false ones, fill in the blank in missing headline, or guess the subject of a story. A lot of the stories are ridiculous, intending to throw the listener off by making them think it couldn’t possibly be true. Some have included actual hobby horse races in Finland or what happened when a bunch of rabbis got together to attempt the mannequin challenge.
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