A live taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is an hour-long current events game show produced by Chicago Public Radio and broadcast nationally through NPR. Airing on weekends, the series is hosted by Peter Sagal and features scorekeeper/judge/announcer Bill Kurtis. Weekly panelists include authors, political columnists, and entertainers, including Roy Blount Jr., Paula Poundstone, and Mo Rocca. The program is broken up into a series of games, some just for the panelists, while others feature call-in contestants and guests.


One weekly game is "Lightning Fill in the Blank," about a random current event, which in the September 23, 2006 broadcast, featured Tickle Me Elmo as the answer, in connection with the recent sales of TMX Elmo. The following week, September 30, both Elmo and Kevin Clash were heard, phoning in for the twelve minute segment "Not My Job," in which a celebrity guest takes a multiple choice quiz on a subject outside of their profession. Elmo and Clash answered questions about Bill O'Reilly and a recent expose of his practices in GQ. Elmo also took the opportunity to criticize the program's name ("What kind of title is Wait Wait?") When host Sagal asked Elmo a question about the TMX Elmo, Clash pointed out that Elmo is just a 3 year old monster who lives on Sesame Street, with no awareness of his ubiquitous presence on best-selling children's toys. The segment closed with a sample from "Elmo's Song."

Frank Oz was the call-in guest on the September 12, 2015 show. He discussed his first job working at Children's Fairyland at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, and starting to work with Jim Henson as a puppeteer at 19. Praising his work on Sesame Street, Sagal declared, "they say that your favorite Beatle determines who you are. No, it's what you prefer, Bert or Ernie," adding that he was always a Bert fan. When the topic of their sexuality came up, Oz countered with Abbott and Costello, to which panelist Faith Salie confirmed, "Gay." Oz also addressed the controversy of Cookie Monster becoming the Veggie Monster, which he called bogus and ridiculous, and described the sketch with Guy Smiley that inspired a cookie-obsessed character (which was actually Beautiful Day Monster in The Mr. and Mrs. Game, and not the puppet which would become Cookie Monster).

Later in the show, after Oz was no longer on the phone, the panelists fielded a question about a cat study that resulted in a discussion about which pets are best to own:

FAITH SALIE: I am about Muppets and that's it.
SAGAL: Right.
POUNDSTONE: Yeah, yeah, and they're easier to care for.
SAGAL: That's because they have no bottom half.
POUNDSTONE: Yeah, what are the odds of Frank Oz having a little accident in your living room?
POUNDSTONE: No, Frank - outside, outside.
SAGAL: I bet he'd do a voice then.
POUNDSTONE: Me no poop on rug.
POUNDSTONE: Me want privacy.

Other guests who have participated in "Not My Job" include Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson, Elliott Gould, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Sarah Silverman.


  • In a 2019 web video, where the Sesame Street Muppets intern at NPR, Ernie and Bert are at an audio board. Ernie asks what the next program is, and Bert answers Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, which confuses Ernie, launching into an Abbott and Costello-esque miscommunication over the title. After a while, Bert leaves to get some "fresh air."

Muppet Mentions

  • During the "Not My Job" segment of the July 7, 2012 show, Ice-T answers an interview question from Peter Sagal about Vanilla Ice: "You know? So I think back in the day we didn't really dig it because one of his mistakes was he came into the rap business saying he was from the street. And we were like, what street, Sesame Street?"
  • On the October 8, 2016 broadcast, Swedish-American chef Marcus Samuelsson appeared in "Not My Job", and the category was "Flurga Blurga Worda" (in reference to having a Swedish chef as guest). The questions were all themed to the Muppets: about a New Zealand man who in 1996 held a radio DJ hostage and demanded he play "Rainbow Connection" over-and-over for 12 hours; that the The Muppet Show was originally named "Sex and Violence"; and that a parents' guide (Concerned Parents of America) warned of a male Muppet kissing a chicken Muppet.
  • The March 25, 2017 segment for "Lightning Fill in the Blank", Peter Sagal asked "On Monday, "Sesame Street" introduced Julia, the show's first ever Muppet with blank." Roxanne Roberts correctly answered "Autism."
  • During a segment of the April 1, 2017 episode, the panel discusses the Trump administration, after one panelist jokes that they assume this is their last episode, Greg Proops says "if they can squash "Sesame Street" they can squash you guys."
  • During the "Lightning Fill in the Blank" segment from the July 22, 2017 episode, the subject of Disney's firing of Steve Whitmire was posed to panelist Adam Burke.
  • September 22, 2017 episode had Empire co-creator Lee Daniels as guest. His category on baked confectionaries was titled "C is for Cookie", with announcer Bill Curtis impersonating Cookie Monster.
  • The January 27, 2018 episode had two separate references in the Bluff the Listener Game:
    • Host Peter Sagal introduced the round on children's television stars: "The stars of children's TV, well they face changes just like everybody else. Oscar the Grouch, for instance, was forced out because his house was converted into The Lofts at Garbage Can Place."
    • Faith Salie's bluff was: "For 19 years, Alan Rothstein played "Sesame Street's" Snuffleupagus, the beloved tusk-less woolly mammoth with lush eyelashes. But you never saw Alan or even heard him because Alan played Snuffleupagus' butt. Yes, it takes two to make Snuffy go. The front end controls his legs and facial expressions and gives him a voice. The back end, played by Alan, controls his hiney. After years of enduring occupational indignities which included extreme heat and flatulent co-stars Alan finally quit. He published a memoir called "Back-End Life," in which he details his gutting realization that he'd devoted himself to being the invisible part of an imaginary character and had chosen a profession in which he literally had no voice. It dawned on Alan that it's time for what he calls a front-end life. Now he travels the country, giving motivational speeches about being visible, finding one's own voice and refusing to be anyone's chokus (ph)."

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