The Tale of Two Wait Wait Shows in Portland

Back in February, I learned that Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! was coming back to Portland, Oregon to do a taping of the show in June. The last time Wait Wait was in Portland was in September 2011 and there had been a large demand of tickets; so, Wait Wait decided to have two tapings in Portland to feed the strong hunger for a local, live taping. When I found out that tickets we going to be on sale, I reached out to the Wait Wait gang to see if I snag a pair of tickets for the show. I later learned that there was going to be a second show in Portland that next night. I was lucky enough to get tickets for both shows and anxiously awaited for the days and weeks to pass, until it the night of the show. As with the previous tapings in Portland, both shows were taped at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland.

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

The first show was taped on Thursday, June 23rd and featured Terry Porter as the Not My Job guest, along with Roxanne Roberts, Maz Jobrani and Bobcat Goldthwait on the panel. On the way to the show, I had to stop by and pick up a notepad and a pen, as I forgot my usual set at home, so that I could take notes. For the most part, it was your typical on-the-road taping of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!; but, due to the timing of when the show was being taped, voting for/against the Brexit was still in progress.

Coincidentally, the last Wait Wait taping that I had gone to was the taping in Seattle back in September 2014, which was taped during the Scottish independence voting. For both of those shows, they had to tape two versions of some of the questions and/or segments to cover either voting result. Once taping and the usual Q&A with the audience were completed, Peter Sagal introduced the members of the Wait Wait crew, working behind the scenes; or, in front of the scene in the case of Lorna White due to microphone technical issues during taping.

OPBs April Baer on stage before the show kicked off
OPB’s April Baer on stage before the show kicked off
2016-06-23 19.41.19
On the panel: Maz Jobrani, Roxanne Roberts and Bobcat Goldthwait
Former Blazers player and current University of Portland mens basketball coach
Not My Job guest Terry Porter, former Blazers player and current University of Portland men’s basketball coach

After he finished introducing all of the crew, he finished up with a little bit about people saying that they are the biggest fan of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!; at that point, Peter, knowing where I was sitting, directed everyone’s attention to where I was sitting and introduced me as the biggest Wait Wait fan and mentioned the Wait Wait Stats Page. I stood up, did the “I’m not worthy” bow a few times and sat back down. The mix of adrenaline and anxiety made me feel a wee bit woozy for the next hour or so.

Notebook with initial notes jotted down before doors opened for Thursdays show
Notebook with initial notes jotted down before doors opened for Thursday’s show

Normally, Wait Wait will do one taping per city when they are on-the-road, with a couple of notable exceptions; including, a series of consecutive tapings from the Nourse Theatre in San Francisco back during the summer of 2014, while Chase Auditorium was being renovated back in Chicago. In the past, the first of the series of shows would be a normal taping of the show that would be aired that weekend; while, the second show would become a specially-themed show with special guests. In this case, the second Wait Wait show in Portland would be something new. There would be a different set of panelists (Jessi Klein, Alonzo Bodden and Luke Burbank), a new Not My Job guest (Bill Oakley) and a new set of listener contestants trying to win Carl Kasell recording a message for their voicemail.

Due to the segments that were recorded during the second show not hitting the air for some time, I did not want to spoil some of details of that taping until a few segments were released. With the Not My Job segment and the Bluff the Listener segment released as part of the Best Of show that aired on 2016-08-27, I can divulge some of the details of the show. Many of the questions were re-used for the Who’s Bill This Time? and Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank segments; along with, and the limericks from the Listener Limerick Challenge segment. The listener contestants from the Thursday and the Friday tapings had difficulties with the second limerick, taking a good amount of time until Peter and Bill gave them the correct answer.

On the panel: Luke Burbank, Jessi Klein and Alonzo Bodden
On the panel: Luke Burbank, Jessi Klein and Alonzo Bodden
Not My Job guest Bill Oakley
Not My Job guest Bill Oakley, writer for The Simpsons

Being up at the front row for that taping, I was so, so close to blurt out a few of the answers during the Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank round to help out the panelists; alas, I thought better of it and kept quiet. Also, knowing that not all of the taping would be used in their original form, Bill Kurtis had a lot of fun with the sponsor messages during Friday’s taping, including a few that were definitely beyond what NPR could broadcast.

Full show notes from the Friday show taping
Full show notes from the Friday show taping

The second taping ended after Peter, Bill and the panelists had to do a couple of pick-ups. I’m guessing they either ran out of time or thought that those attending the second show didn’t need to know the people working behind the scenes. I was able to head backstage after the taping and said hello to Luke Burbank (who probably sees me enough already at the numerous Live Wire Radio tapings that I’ve been to).

I wanted to thank the guys and gals at Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! for tickets to the Thursday show and urge them to come back to Portland more often!