< 'Wait Wait' for Dec. 18, 2021: With Not My Job guest Keke Palmer

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The following program was taped before an audience of no one.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. Ho, ho, ho, Merry Kurtismas (ph). I'm Bill Kurtis, and here's your host. The merriest elf in my workshop, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill, and thank you, fake audience. I guess we're here together again. We here at WAIT WAIT have had a lot of success over the years, but one thing we have never been good at is creating memes despite many attempts.

KURTIS: Ari Shapiro bit my finger.


SAGAL: So later on, we're going to be getting tips from Keke Palmer, the actor and writer and producer and talk show host whose every utterance instantly becomes the most popular thing on TikTok. But first, we want to hear from you. Give us a call. The number is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Now, let's welcome our first listener contestant. Hi. You're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

RACHEL MCCONNELL: Hi. This is Rachel McConnell from Banner Elk, N.C.

SAGAL: Banner Elk, N.C.


SAGAL: Where is that?

MCCONNELL: We are in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. And...

SAGAL: Oh, it is beautiful out there.

MCCONNELL: It is. Yeah, we're a little, tiny town of 1,400 people.

SAGAL: And what do you do there?

MCCONNELL: I am a pastor.

SAGAL: You are.

MCCONNELL: I am. Yeah.


SAGAL: So you're, like, a small-town pastor in a mountain town.

MCCONNELL: I am. Yes. You could write a cozy, you know, mystery about it. Yeah.

SAGAL: Right. I was actually going to suggest that it would be really cool if it turns out that you were actually in the federal witness protection program.

MCCONNELL: Well, we do have an Italian restaurant in our town that was opened by a mobster who did exactly that.

SAGAL: Wow. Really?

SALIE: Wait. And everybody knows it.


SALIE: It's not working so well.

MCCONNELL: And everybody knows it. They're like, don't go eat at the mafia Italian restaurant.

SAGAL: So a mobster was given a new identity by the federal government, and he was placed in your tiny town up in the mountains. And he decides to open an Italian restaurant.

MCCONNELL: That's the story. And, you know, it's a small town.


MCCONNELL: Things get around.

SAGAL: All right. Well, welcome to our show, Rachel. Let me introduce you to our panel. First, a man outstanding in his field in Vermont - it's Tom Bodett.




SAGAL: Next, a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning and host of the new Audible podcast "Broadway Revival," it's Faith Salie.


SALIE: Hey, Rachel.

MCCONNELL: Hey, Faith.

SAGAL: And a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and the host of the Henry Ford's "Innovation Nation Saturdays" on CBS, it's Mo Rocca.


MO ROCCA: Hi, Rachel.


SAGAL: Well, Rachel, welcome to the show. You're going to play, of course, Who's Bill This Time? Bill Kurtis is going to recreate for you three quotations from the week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain just two of them, you'll win our prize - any voice from our show you might choose on your voicemail. Ready to play?

MCCONNELL: Yeah. I'm a little nervous. It's kind of a busy season for me right now.

SALIE: Oh, right. Right. Yeah.

SAGAL: Well...

SALIE: Yeah.

SAGAL: Here we go. Here, Rachel, is your first quote.

KURTIS: (Reading) It's not a whole new disease. It's not like the pigeon turned into a tiger. It's more like a pigeon turned into a pigeon with a mustache.

SAGAL: That was an epidemiologist talking to NPR about the new variant that's going to be pooping on us from above for a while to come. What is it?

MCCONNELL: The omicron variant.

SAGAL: Omicron - yes.


SALIE: But it's good luck when it poops on you.

SAGAL: That is true. That's what - they just tell you that. They just tell you that to make you feel better, Faith. You know that. We thought the pandemic was finally over. Then suddenly, everybody we knew in the course of a day or two came down with COVID. It's fun. This must be what it's like to live in South Dakota. Things were getting back to normal. We were making travel plans. We were arranging get-togethers. Now everything is shutting down again. It's as if we are transported back to March of 2020, which explains a sudden urge to wash your groceries and make "Tiger King" jokes.

ROCCA: I can't wait until we get to omega because then we'll know it's over.

SAGAL: Right. That's how we'll know.

ROCCA: So we just have to get to - is this - there's going to be a whole lot of classics scholars that come out of this whole thing, right? We're all learning the ancient Greek alphabet - anybody, anybody?

SALIE: Y'all, I'm flying to Disney World in the middle - like, two years ago, I wouldn't have - last year, I wouldn't have flown anywhere. And now I guess if I'm going to get omicron, I might as well be in the happiest place on Earth.

SAGAL: Exactly.

BODETT: You got to - we pick the hills we're going to die on, and you've picked yours, Faith. I mean, there's worse ones. I mean, it's Disney World.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SALIE: Yeah.

SAGAL: It's a theme park, and this year the theme is contagion.

BODETT: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Have you guys had the experience of, like, all of a sudden, everybody you know, despite being vaccinated and everything, is all of a sudden coming down with it? There are cases everywhere.

ROCCA: Yeah, a lot of breakthroughs. It's like...

SAGAL: Yeah.

ROCCA: You hear about somebody having a breakthrough, and you think, good for you. And then it turns out it's an infection.

SAGAL: Exactly. It's not that kind of breakthrough.

SALIE: It's so brave of you.

ROCCA: I had a breakthrough.

SALIE: Exactly. Yeah.

SAGAL: All right. Here, Rachel, is your next quote. It's from Time Magazine describing their Person of the Year.

KURTIS: (Reading) He dreams of Mars as he bestrides Earth, square-jawed and indomitable. He also likes to live tweet his poops.

SAGAL: Who is this Earth-bestriding, poop-tweeting behemoth?

MCCONNELL: That would be Elon Musk.

SAGAL: Elon Musk - exactly right.


SAGAL: Elon Musk has been named Time Magazine Person of the Year, so I guess we're just calling anyone a person now.


SAGAL: People are furious about this, that he got this honor that is typically reserved for heroes like Ben Bernanke and Hitler.

BODETT: Hitler.

SAGAL: But this announcement in Time magazine will send shockwaves throughout dentists' waiting rooms about four months from now.


ROCCA: But let us - but however, in 1938, when Hitler was named Man of the Year, there was a real fuhrer over it.


SAGAL: So this guy actually created two industries that people have been dreaming of for decades - practical electrical cars...


SAGAL: ...And private spaceflight. It's the stuff of science fiction, and he did it, and everybody still hates him. Can you imagine how much of a jerk you have to be for that to be the case?

BODETT: (Laughter) Well, what I think is most impressive about him is that it's like he started the electric car company not so much because he wanted to make electric cars as he wanted to make a lot of money in order to go to Mars. Like, it's really - like, it's just the funding phase of his colonization of Mars. I mean, this is really big-picture stuff.

SAGAL: Yeah. Because it's weird. It's like, oh, Elon Musk, you created EVs. You made them practical and attractive for people. You've sold thousands of them. I guess you really want to save the planet. And he's like, yeah, yeah, save this planet. That's what I'm doing. Yeah.

All right, Rachel, here is your last quote.

KURTIS: Set your mind to it and get it done because it feels so good once you get to the other side.

SAGAL: That was somebody celebrating a significant achievement - passing a preliminary bar exam in California, despite never even graduating college. Who is it?

MCCONNELL: Would that be Kim Kardashian?

SAGAL: It was Kim Kardashian.


SAGAL: Hey, Khloe and Kourtney, keep up with this. The most famous person in the world announced this week that she has passed this preliminary bar exam that allows people who did not go to law school to then apprentice with lawyers in the hope of passing the real bar. She said she's, quote, "not doing it for publicity," unquote, in an Instagram post shot by a team of professional photographers. The exam is called the baby bar, and it is considered equivalent to finishing the first year of law school. This is wonderful news for the Kardashian family. On the day that Kim passed the baby bar, her brother, Rob, brought a baby into a bar.

SALIE: You know what else I like? Because, you know, we know she lives her life so publicly. I really like that she was so public about her failures. Like, she...


SALIE: She said - I think she said she failed - what? - three times in two years or something.

SAGAL: Three times. She was very open about it. She said that she managed to study again and again and go for it while still maintaining her 24-7 life as a fashion executive and influencer. For example, she posted a photo of herself studying her law books while wearing a tiny bikini. So now a lot of people out there have some very confused feelings about torts.

BODETT: (Laughter).

ROCCA: She - you know, she failed the first time because she spelled class action with a K.

SAGAL: I know.


SAGAL: What's interesting is that she says - and again, this is all quite sincere - that she was led to this interest in the law because of the work that she has legitimately done...

ROCCA: In judicial reform.

SAGAL: ...In getting innocent people clemency. You may remember her showing up with Donald Trump and getting these people released from jail who needed to be released from jail.

ROCCA: She spells clemency with a K, too.

SAGAL: Right. I mean, you know, all this time through her entire career, people have hated on her because she's just famous for being famous. But now we can look forward to someday soon hating her for being a lawyer.

Bill, how did Rachel do on our quiz?

KURTIS: It's the Christmas season, and Rachel was blessed with three correct answers.

SAGAL: (Laughter) How pastoral, Bill. Congratulations, Rachel.

MCCONNELL: Thank you. This was so much fun.

SAGAL: Thank you, and have a - and truly, have a wonderful holiday and Christmas season.

MCCONNELL: Yeah. Merry Christmas, y'all.


SAGAL: Right now, panel, it is time for you to answer some questions about this week's news. Tom, a new study analyzing the Marvel superhero movies suggests that the next big threat the Avengers might be facing is what?

BODETT: It's got to be something's - you know, the biggest danger to themselves is each other sort of thing. So I'm going to say internal politics.

SAGAL: Well, we already did that. We already did that in...

BODETT: Oh, that's right, "Civil War." Oh, yeah.

SAGAL: ..."Captain America: Civil War." Please, Tom.

BODETT: That was my least favorite one. OK, I need a hint.

SAGAL: You need a hint. Well, for example, Iron Man might end up with anemia.

BODETT: They're going to get old?

SAGAL: Yes, they're going to have health issues as they age.


SAGAL: Researchers at the University of Queensland reviewed all the MCU movies, focusing on the character's health, or at least that's what they said they were doing when the administration caught them watching Disney+ all day. They say that while the superheroes seem to be in great shape now, it will not last. For example, jumping off a moving bus to do a flip in the air and kick three villains in the head - that gets hard on the old spider knees.

BODETT: (Laughter).

SALIE: I just want Wonder Woman to go through menopause. And...

SAGAL: (Laughter) Why?

SALIE: Because then she can fight with the Flash. She'll be like, yeah, you bring it. I got hot flash.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SALIE: Let's do this.

SAGAL: Faith...

BODETT: Oh, yeah, the lasso hot flash.

SALIE: Don't mess with me.

SAGAL: Now, what's...

BODETT: Actually, that would be a great new character. Just that - hot flash.

SALIE: She'll be so hot. Even in her...



SALIE: Even in what little she's wearing, she'll be like, ugh, woo (ph).


SALIE: Hot and cranky.

ROCCA: Now I'm thinking of Wonder Woman in an invisible ambulance, I mean, just being brought...


ROCCA: ...To the hospital.

SAGAL: She's just rolling down the street real quickly going, ugh.

ROCCA: And Captain America getting crappy care at the VA.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODETT: Right.

ROCCA: It's the worst.

SALIE: Wait a minute. These are all American heroes, right?

SAGAL: Yes, ones we are discussing.

SALIE: Like, what if they don't have health insurance?

SAGAL: That's - there you go (laughter).

SALIE: This is not going to go well.

ROCCA: Does Marvel - yeah, does Marvel have better health care?

SAGAL: I don't think so.

BODETT: Well, I think better than DC Comics, for sure.

ROCCA: Yeah.

SALIE: (Laughter).


RAMONES: (Singing) One, two, three. When I'm lying in my bed at night, I don't wanna grow up. Nothing ever seems to turn out right, and I...

SAGAL: Coming up, it's a Christmas miracle, or it's a lie. It's our Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME! from NPR.

KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Faith Salie, Mo Rocca and Tom Bodett. And here again is your host, a man whose bells are jingling. Honestly, he should get that checked. It's Peter Sagal.


SAGAL: Thank you, Bill. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

JORDAN HENRY: Hi, Peter. My name's Jordan Henry (ph), and I'm from Athens, Ga.

SAGAL: Athens, Ga. OK, I know where that is. Now, what do you do there? Are you at the university?

HENRY: Kind of. I just got my first internship. I am an accountant at the Creature Comforts Brewery.

SAGAL: Oh. Well, if you're going to be an accountant, be a beer accountant.

HENRY: Exactly.

SAGAL: I think that's a good rule in life.

BODETT: I know how to do that - (singing) 100 bottles of beer on the wall, 100 bottles of beer.

SALIE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Well, Jordan, welcome to the show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's the topic?

KURTIS: My Christmas wish came true.

SAGAL: It's a great idea to make a Christmas wish, according to this mysterious monkey's paw I just found. This week, we heard a story about somebody whose Christmas wish did come true. It did not quite work out the way they hoped, though. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth. You'll win our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

HENRY: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right. Let's do it. First, let's hear from Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: Ever since Mary Lou Teel (ph) was a child, she dreamed of adorning her home at Christmas with yards of luxurious garlands made from tinsel. And so last year, she hauled a half mile of tinsel into her home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, transforming it into a wonderland and, apparently, a radio tower. The aluminum in the tinsel ended up picking up frequencies from 99.3 Radio Adobo in Cebu City, Philippines. Now, this isn't just any Philippine pop station. Starting on Christmas Eve, popular DJs and brothers George and Jimmy Kankaiko (ph) play 24 hours of Kenny Loggins, a full day of "Footloose" and "Whenever I Call You 'Friend'" that's become part of the traditional observance of Christmas in Cebu City and now in Boothbay Harbor. Quote, "When I first heard the pounding bass of "Danger Zone" coming through my tinsel, I didn't know what to think," said Mary Lou. "Honestly, I'm really more of a "House At Pooh Corner" person. But her son Nick really took to it, and now his mama does dance." Said Mary Lou, "who needs to stare at a yule log on my TV when I can rock out to yule Loggins?"

SAGAL: Too much tinsel in Maine creates a radio antenna that brings Kenny Loggins to their seaside home. Your next story of holiday magic comes from Faith Salie.

SALIE: Jeff Her's (ph) Christmas wish was to give the best Secret Santa present ever this year. Jeff works at Weird Ink Publishing in Cleveland and was dismayed to learn that their holiday party would once again be on Zoom. So when he pulled colleague Clover Devonee's (ph) name, he knew he had to be her Secret Santa in person. Clover had just moved into a Victorian-era fixer-upper in the historic Cleveland Park district, and the enormous fireplace in her study, complete with chilly draught, had become a staple of company Zoom meetings. So, Jeff thought, why not add zip to the holiday Zoom by emerging as Santa from that very chimney? Well, how about because in order to provide some yuletide cheer of her own, Clover had finally decided to light a fire in it.

As her colleagues watched on Zoom, a figure emerged from the chimney behind Clover, his cherry-red Doc Martens on fire. Look behind you, everybody shouted, and Clover attacked the flaming intruder with a leaf blower aimed at his smoking heinie. The leaf blower gave him a Christmas wedgie so severe that the highlight of the office party was that the whole team got to watch Jeff being carried out on a stretcher by EMTs.

SAGAL: A Secret Santa tried to be a real Santa coming down someone's chimney only to catch fire during a Zoom meeting. Your last story of a Christmas miracle comes from Tom Bodett.

BODETT: Laura Magill of the U.K. wanted to do something surprising for her young son for Christmas this year, so she dropped 85 pounds - the currency, not the weight - on a professional Grinch impersonator to crash their holiday party. She expected Mr. Grinch to mess the kids' beds, put toilet roll around the festive tree, have a pillow fight. Instead, the impersonator destroyed, quote, "every single bit of party food, including expensive cupcakes, broke the tree decorations, poured fairy liquid, juice and smashed eggs on the kitchen floor as well as on her son" - which raises a number of questions, including what is fairy liquid? And why were there expensive cupcakes at a kids party? It's unclear which company she went with. One person wrote on Twitter, paid for the Grinch, got the Grinch. No pleasing some people. But I'm with Laura on this one. If you hire a Grinch, you want them to act like a Grinch, not like family.

SAGAL: All right, one of these people made a Christmas wish, and it came true, much to their regret - from Mo, a family that really wanted lots of genuine tinsel on their tree and made it into a radio antenna capable of picking up a Kenny Loggins station from the Philippines; from Faith, a Secret Santa tried to surprise his colleague by actually coming down her chimney; or from Tom Bodett, a woman in England who decided to invite a Grinch to her family's Christmas that turned out to be, well, a real Grinch. Which of these is the real story of a Christmas wish coming true?

HENRY: Oh, man. This is tough. I think I want to go with Mo's story of the person who was able to pick up Kenny Loggins.

SAGAL: So your choice is Mo's story, that these people covered their tree in so much real metal tinsel that it became a powerful antenna and picked up a Kenny Loggins radio station from the Philippines in Maine.

HENRY: Sounds amazing.

SAGAL: It does, doesn't it?

ROCCA: Yes. Yes. Yes, it does.

SALIE: (Laughter).

ROCCA: Yes, it does, Peter.

SAGAL: OK, you've chosen Mo's story. To bring you the correct answer, we spoke to an expert on this real story.

LAU LAPIDES: He trashed the house, and rightly so. It made sense for the methodology of really getting inside the character of the Grinch.

HENRY: (Laughter).

SAGAL: That was Lau Lapides, owner and president of the acting school Lau Lapides Company, talking about the Grinch - somewhat appreciatively - who really did steal Christmas over in England. I'm so sorry, but you were fooled.

HENRY: Well, I'm happy Mo got my point.

SAGAL: Mo, does Kenny Loggins have a Christmas song?

ROCCA: Well, in some families, "Highway To The Danger Zone" would probably be it.

SAGAL: I guess so.


BODETT: I think my hair is starting to form itself into a mullet just listening to all of that.


SAGAL: Thank you so much, Jordan. Take care.

HENRY: Oh, thank you.


SAGAL: And now the game where we desperately try to find something that somebody who can do anything can't do. It's called Not My Job. If you gave Keke Palmer a job title, maybe for her business card, it would be something like actor, writer, producer, Broadway star, talk show host, singer, composer, internet star. And I am sorry we just ran out of hyphens. Her latest project is a cycle of short stories for Kindle called "Southern Belle Insults." Keke Palmer, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

KEKE PALMER: Thank you so much for having me. I couldn't be any more excited to be talking with you. This is going to be fun.

SAGAL: It will be. And I am just as excited to talk to you. I have to admit, studying up on your resume is like a college course. There's so much to look at.

PALMER: (Laughter).

SAGAL: But I found out something that I hope is true that everybody - I think everybody - most people know that you were a child star. Most prominently but not first was the film "Akeelah And The Bee" sometime back. But I read that you actually got your start performing at a tourist attraction in Chicago. Is that right?

PALMER: It's maybe right. I mean - well, what happened was I actually did "American Juniors," which was "American Idol" for kids. So my parents, we heard about it. I always sang in church. You know, I kind of had - did a couple of, like, little auditions for Chicago theater. And then I got my golden ticket in Illinois to go to California. And that was, like, the first time that I actually went and visited California, was with my golden ticket from "American Idol" - or "American Juniors," I should say.

SAGAL: Right. But so the story of, like, you pretending to be a little pirate at Navy Pier on the lake in Chicago is not true?

PALMER: No, that's...

SAGAL: That's what I was hoping.

PALMER: That sounds, like, absolutely incredible. That sounds like my life if it was a Disney movie. And so I'm living for that.

SAGAL: You got into entertainment when you were, like, 9, right?

PALMER: Yes - 9 years old.

SAGAL: And I asked this question to people who were child stars - I asked it recently to Ron and Clint Howard. I'll ask you, why are you not crazy?

PALMER: I think it depends on what you think of is crazy (laughter). I think in terms of being creative and kind of kooky with my characters and my work, I think that's where I get all my crazy out. My creativity and my thoughts, I put it all in my artwork. You know, my parents really helped me with that, obviously, as a kid, because they really just made sure that I wasn't kind of over influx with constant Hollywood stuff. So we had family cookouts, and we had football game, you know, watch parties. And we just did the stuff that everybody does. It wasn't too lavish.

ROCCA: I'm imagining that some families are different. Like, some families are inviting TMZ to the cookout.

PALMER: Yeah. Yes, some families are different. Sometimes people was into the paparazzi. That's definitely true (laughter).

SAGAL: Do you have to deal with that? Again, you've been famous since you were a child.

PALMER: I think absolutely to a certain degree, especially at different particular moments within your career, you know what I mean? Like, I'm a very kind of down-to-earth-type vibe. So 9 times out of 10, if you catching me coming out of the airport, you ain't going to see a pretty picture. You just going to see somebody that just woke up off a plane.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

PALMER: And that's just something you got to deal with. But every now and then, you know, if I'm in New York and the paparazzis (ph) are always out there, I'm going to interviews, and I'll give a gag or two.

SAGAL: Really? You do the thing - you'll like give a little performance so they leave you alone for the rest of the day?

PALMER: Oh, I'll totally do the thing. Nobody does the thing better than your girl Ke.

ROCCA: Let me pretend to be the TMZ reporter. Hey, Keke, Keke, what are you doing?

PALMER: Oh, love. Love, it's good to see you. Oh, you know, life is life, just working and getting into it, per usual, like you, I see.

ROCCA: Looking good there, Keke - looking great. We love you.

PALMER: Oh, thank you. So good to see you. Love to see you. And that's the other thing about it, is a lot of times, I've known these paparazzis or these people, especially on the carpet, since I was, like, 9 years old. So it's was like - I will literally be like, it's so good to see you again. I ain't seen you in years, because that's literally the vibe.

SAGAL: One of the things that you're amazing at is - I don't know whether you do this intentionally or not - but becoming memeified (ph).

PALMER: Hilarious.

SAGAL: There was this moment at the Met Gala when you were on the red carpet that just went insane, that became like - everybody was riffing on. Is this intentional? Do you know why this works?

PALMER: No, it's literally not intentional at all. And you don't know - and it happens to anyone, you know what I mean? It doesn't just happen to me. It happens to, you know, people that you maybe don't know their names. But to me, it's so - it's dope because it's like, well, yeah, this is a moment where you guys are seeing me, you know, as I am, just as a regular person at my job who happens to be talking to myself - now, what does this mean, Ms. Mamas? - at the Met Gala, you know what I mean?

SAGAL: So is it weird to like, open up TikTok and hear your own voice over and over and over again as it keeps rolling?

PALMER: It's insane to me. It's insane. I mean, it's just - when I seen that Ed Sheeran did it, I was just like, come on, now. That's is my boy. I was living with that. I love Ed Sheeran.

SAGAL: So wait a minute. What did Ed Sheeran do with you?

PALMER: He did the, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I know it ain't - I know it ain't the Stallion. You know it's your girl. He did that.

SAGAL: Wait, I have to explain. Once again, this is a hugely global, popular meme with you at the red carpet at the Met Gala talking to - who were you talking to at that moment?

PALMER: I was talking to Megan Thee Stallion. And, like, every time I see Megan, she's like, you know, you're my best friend in my head. And so when I seen her, I was like, you know it's your girl. And, like, literally, that's what you're talking about. They took that audio bite. Not only did somebody take that audio bite, but this really cool jazz player put music to it. And once he put music to that, then it just became its own thing. And people do all different kinds of skits to it. Sometimes they just do it, or they just do a skit. And that is the creative part about it that, to me, is so cool, is that man, y'all took this one audio, and y'all created all these different storylines surrounding that - you know what I mean? - from this one event.

SAGAL: How do your parents feel about you being memed?

PALMER: It's so funny that you said it because my mom is literally way supportive to the point of no return. There's this picture online that kind of got memed of me - you know, it's like me in the front, and, like, I kind of got, like, this skimpy top on. And it's like - it's, like, obviously a paparazzi shot. And I'm like, you know, smiling and looking forward. But if you look really closely, you see in the back, my mom being a paparazzi to me with her iPhone. And it's like, Sharon, what are you doing? And I remember when I did Wendy Williams one time, you know, Wendy is always trying to dig stuff up. She brought up, you know, this skimpy little outfit that I wore. And I was like, yeah, my mom was right there, you know, taking the photos happy for me living my best life.

SAGAL: All right, I got one last question before we go on to our game, which is, you've done so many things. Is there anything that you have not done yet that you want to do?

PALMER: Yes, sit down. I would love to sit down.


PALMER: I would love to sit down. And I'm straight up honest with you, man.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Well, OK. Keke Palmer, it is great to talk to you, but we've asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: I See Three Questions About Palmistry In Your Future.

SAGAL: Your name - obviously, Keke Palmer - we thought we'd ask you three questions about palmistry, palm reading or fortune telling. Answer two of the three questions about psychics, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of their choice for their voicemail. Bill, who is Keke Palmer playing for?

KURTIS: Sarah Williams (ph) of Philadelphia, Penn.

PALMER: Good luck to me and you, Sarah.

SAGAL: All right, first question. There was a Russian psychic named E. Frenkel, and he was one of the most popular psychics of his day. He claimed his powers were strong enough to stop bicycles, automobiles and streetcars in their tracks. Unfortunately, he died suddenly in 1989. How? A, he got a very bad feeling about a plane flight, walked out of the airport and was immediately hit by a bus; B, his crystal ball inexplicably exploded; or C, after bragging that his powers could stop a freight train, it turned out they could not.

PALMER: I'm thinking the freight train.

SAGAL: You're right, Keke.


SAGAL: That's what happened.


SAGAL: He tried to stop a freight train in his mind. It did not work. You got to admire his confidence.

PALMER: God bless him.

SAGAL: Two more chances here. In 2018, a so-called psychic octopus captured the hearts of the people of Japan when he correctly predicted the results of all three of their World Cup soccer games. How did fans celebrate this achievement? A, they got him eight little soccer cleats; B, they gave him eight little high five - bing, bing, bing, bing, bing - or C, they ate him.

PALMER: I think they ate him.

SAGAL: They did.


SAGAL: They ate him up. Japanese people love to eat octopus.


SAGAL: And octopus only live for a year or so.

PALMER: Octopus is tasty.

SAGAL: It is. I know. All right, last question. The noted psychic and astrologer Jeanne Dixon was always proving her powers, as exemplified by which of these? A, she once predicted that sometime in the far future, a clairvoyant octopus would be eaten by soccer fans in Japan; B, she bought Dogecoin when it was at .1 cents; or C, when she died of a heart attack, her last words were, I knew this would happen.

PALMER: Oh, my gosh. This is so hard. I'm so scared. OK, it's either the heart attack gag or it's the Doge.

SAGAL: Yeah. I'm going to give you a little hint, that Jeanne Dixon died in 1997.

PALMER: OK. Well, then the heart attack.

SAGAL: That's exactly right, yes.


< 'Wait Wait' for Dec. 18, 2021: With Not My Job guest Keke Palmer

SAGAL: She died - I mean, what I love about this woman - she's a very famous psychic, and I love that she kept it up to the very last minute. She's dying of a heart attack, pain spreading through her left side, the world going dark.

PALMER: And said I knew it. That's crazy.

SAGAL: And she's like, I knew this would happen. So she went out like she wanted to, like a pro, ladies and gentlemen.

PALMER: You guys, that is ridiculous.

SAGAL: Isn't it, though? Bill, how did Keke Palmer do on our quiz?

KURTIS: It is ridiculous, but Keke even won that - three in a row. What a winner.

SAGAL: Did you see? There's nothing you can't do.

PALMER: Woo. And the crowd goes yay (laughter).

SAGAL: Woo. Keke Palmer is a singer, writer, author, many, many other things, and also the author of the Kindle book of short stories, "Southern Belle Insults." Keke Palmer, we're so delighted we got a chance to spend some time with you. Thank you so much for being with us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

PALMER: I had a blast, too. Let me know if I can come back any time.

KURTIS: See you Keke.


DRAKE: Kiki, do you love me? Are you riding? Say you never, ever leave from beside me, 'cause I want you. And I need you. And I'm down for you always. KB, do you love me?

SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill gets blitzed with a cookie in our Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.


KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Tom Bodett, Mo Rocca and Faith Salie. And here again is your host, a man whose script we just changed a second ago, and he has no choice but to read it. It's Peter Sagal.


SAGAL: Thanks, Bill. I am a dumb, dumb baby. In just a minute, Bill is simply having a wonderful Christmas rhyme in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924.

Right now, panel, some more questions for you from the week's news. Tom, at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, LG announced they'd be unveiling an exciting new TV that you can do what with?

BODETT: You can take in the shower with you.

SAGAL: Close. You can take it a lot of places because...

BODETT: Because it's got wheels on it.

SAGAL: Yes. It's a TV that you can wheel around the house.



SAGAL: Of course...


SAGAL: ...We invented this back in 1983 in my AV team in high school.


SAGAL: LG's newest high-tech TV features a 27-inch battery-powered wireless screen attached to this wheeled stand that you can push from room to room. It's great. If you've ever been attached in a hospital, say, to a portable IV drip and looked at it and thought...

SALIE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...I really wish I could watch "Real Housewives" on this, now you can.


SAGAL: LG is calling their cutting-edge new product StanbyME. And they say that it can be used not only for watching TV, but also for videoconferencing and FaceTiming with the family. Just kidding. It's for watching TV on the toilet.

ROCCA: Why is this special? I mean, we...

SAGAL: We cannot figure that out, right?

SALIE: Isn't this what we do with our phones now?

SAGAL: Right.

BODETT: Right, yeah. Or your laptop? I mean, like...

SAGAL: Yeah. I mean...

BODETT: It could be the thing that the kids buy mom because, you know, she likes to take her TV around. And she can work the one in the living room, but she can't do the remote with the one in the bedroom. So what if it was the same TV, and then she'd only have to learn one?

SALIE: Yeah, but for 2,000...

BODETT: So, yeah, there's a market. I should write their ads.


SAGAL: Faith, according to new research, when you're decorating for the holidays this year, to ensure that you have the very best time, you should absolutely not buy a what?

SALIE: A what? An Elf on the Shelf.

SAGAL: No. Well, absolutely not. We knew that.

BODETT: (Laughter).

SALIE: Right. A what? It - well, I mean, a tree, if you want to - if it...

SAGAL: Yes, you should...

SALIE: What?

SAGAL: You should definitely not buy what kind of tree?

SALIE: Oh. Don't buy an artificial tree.

SAGAL: Exactly right, Faith.


SAGAL: Do not buy a fake Christmas tree.


SAGAL: The research found that while Christmas trees in general are found to improve your mental well-being, the benefit falls off sharply when you buy a fake tree. This is because an artificial tree is far less likely to fall on the family member causing your mental health problems.


SAGAL: Basically, we all know this. Like, being outdoors has very distinct mental health benefits.


SAGAL: And a Christmas tree is like bringing the outdoors indoors.


SAGAL: But an artificial tree is like bringing more indoors indoors. See? Proceed.

SALIE: And the artificial tree camp is going to tell you, oh, well, you know, it's not harming the environment. Maybe. I don't think that's true. But they're going to - they're really going to lean into the fact...

SAGAL: They're going to come after you.

SALIE: ...That you don't have to vacuum.

SAGAL: You don't have to vacuum. You don't have to get one every year. They last year to year.

BODETT: Yeah, I'd rather bring in that nice, fresh, live one and just watch it slowly die over a three-week period. And - now that's the spirit of the holidays.

SAGAL: Yeah.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

BODETT: It's the circle of life.

SAGAL: If a real tree is part of the circle of life, is an artificial tree just like the straight line of life?

BODETT: (Laughter) Right, OK.

SAGAL: It just stays.

BODETT: It's the flat line of life.

SALIE: (Laughter) Yes, it is.


SAGAL: Tom, a family in South Africa who had just finished decorating their real Christmas tree discovered that it had actually come pre-decorated with what?

BODETT: I'm assuming if it came pre-decorated, it would be something from the animal kingdom.

SAGAL: It was - it is something from the animal kingdom, yes.

SALIE: (Hissing) Something scary.

BODETT: Partridges.

SAGAL: In a pear tree?

BODETT: No (laughter).

SALIE: Scarier than that, Tom.

BODETT: Scared - bat - well...

SAGAL: Scary.

SALIE: Super (hissing) scary.

SAGAL: Scarier than a bat.

BODETT: Snake.

SAGAL: Yes, a deadly, venomous snake.


SAGAL: And of course...


SAGAL: ...It was a real tree 'cause nothing helps your mental health like a sudden brush with death. Now...


SAGAL: Now we know why not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.


SAGAL: The family noticed their cats were particularly interested in the tree. And after a closer look, they discovered one of the world's most venomous snakes, a boomslang...

ROCCA: A boomslang?

SAGAL: ...In that tree. Fortunately, boomslangs...

ROCCA: It's called a boomslang?

BODETT: Also a very badass name.

SAGAL: Very badass. Boomslangs are not very aggressive unless, of course, they're in the proximity of colorful blinking lights.

BODETT: (Laughter).

ROCCA: (Singing) And a boomslang in a pear tree.

BODETT: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Don't you hate it when you're decorating the tree and you have to untangle the snake from last year?

BODETT: Right. You know...

SALIE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Like, oh, man. Is this (ph)...

BODETT: And now, kids, remember the rules.

SAGAL: Just put it in the box (ph).

SALIE: Damn it, who - yeah, who didn't coil this around their elbow?

BODETT: Remember the rules, kids. If you get bit, everybody yells boomslang.


SAGAL: Boomslang, boomslang. It's going to be so sad, though, when this family comes down Christmas morning, and that snake has, like, a Santa-shaped lump halfway down its body.


LADY GAGA: (Singing) Light me up, put me on top. Let's fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. Light me up, put me on top. Let's fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. The only place you'll want to be is underneath my Christmas tree.

SAGAL: Coming up, it's Lightning Fill-In-The-Blank, but first, it's the game where you have to listen for the rhyme. If you'd like to play on-air, call or leave a message at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924, or click the contact us link on our website, waitwait.npr.org. And if you think this show sounds fun, well, come see what it looks like. We have two shows coming up at the Harris Theatre in Chicago, January 6 and February 3. Tickets are on sale now at waitwait.npr.org. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

KATIE MCINTIRE: Hi. This is Katie McIntire (ph) from Auburn, N.Y.

SAGAL: Hey, Katie. How are you?

MCINTIRE: Doing great.

SAGAL: Now, I don't know where Auburn is. Where is that?

MCINTIRE: It's in the Finger Lakes. It's a very beautiful part of upstate New York.

SAGAL: Oh, it's gorgeous.

MCINTIRE: Yes, Ithaca is gorgeous.

SAGAL: Katie, welcome to the show. Bill Kurtis is going to read you three news-related limericks with the last word or phrase missing from each. If you can fill in that last word or phrase correctly on two of the limericks, you will be a big winner. Ready to play?


SAGAL: Here is your first limerick.

KURTIS: He flew in, set the school's hearts aglow then squawked words that our kids shouldn't know. So teachers were stirred to get rid of the bird, and now kids miss their mascot, the...



SAGAL: The crow. Yes.


SAGAL: Kids at a school in Oregon fell in love this week with an unlikely friend, a crow named Cosmo that had become separated from its usual human companions, and he broke into a fifth-grade classroom to steal some snacks. The crow was such a hit at the school, the popular girls even asked it to sit with them at lunch. And even though this crow swore like a drunk raven - some crows can mimic human speech, which is how it was able to repeat curse words - it's also how the famous Edgar Allen Poe quote came to be - "quoth the raven, go F yourself."

BODETT: I - what are the new phrases that Cosmo learned? Can I use the bathroom? Can I use the bathroom?

SAGAL: Here is your next limerick.

KURTIS: Russian president - that's not too shabby. But at times, my career was more drabby. Till I was a spy, I would drive to get by. In the '90s, I worked as a...



SAGAL: Cabbie. Yes. This week, we learned that Vladimir Putin moonlighted as a taxi driver in the 1990s. Can you imagine, like, your Uber driver shows up, and it's Vladimir Putin? And not only does he know all the side streets. He also knows the names and locations of all your family members, so you had better give him a five-star review.

ROCCA: And he's shirtless.

SALIE: Yeah.

SAGAL: Yes. Of course.

BODETT: In the '90s? I mean, wasn't he still in the KGB or something?

ROCCA: No. He was in the C-A-B.


SAGAL: This was in the period, apparently, like, right around the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so to support himself - because KGB work just wasn't paying the bills then - he actually - he says he had to drive a cab to make ends meet. He also made a few extra dollars by agreeing to star in HBO's "Taxicab Forced Confessions."


BODETT: Well, that story actually raises my opinion of Putin, like, that much.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODETT: Because you'd think - you know, you look at him, you think, well, yeah, if he was ever in hard times, he would just kill somebody and take their money, right?

SAGAL: Right.

BODETT: And that he didn't.

SAGAL: He's a working guy.

BODETT: He actually went out and worked for it.

SALIE: Well, he drove them to their homes and then killed them and took their money.

ROCCA: And he kept the meter running while he killed them.

SAGAL: He'd do that, wouldn't he? All right. Here is your final limerick.

KURTIS: This watering hole isn't five star. It's for gingerbread men who don't thrive far. It has got sticky floors and baked patrons galore. I am building a gingerbread dive...



KURTIS: Bar. You are right.

SAGAL: Dive bar. That's right. Miller High Life has released a new product for the holiday season, a kit to build your very own gingerbread dive bar. The walls are infused with beer, just like a real dive bar, and the kit includes stools made with peppermints and a pool table with pretzel sticks for cues. It also has an unemployed gingerbread man who says, I won't be here on Saturday. It's my week with my gingerbread kids.

SALIE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: The attention to detail is amazing. They include - this is all true - maple syrup to pour on the floor to make them sticky and some gingerbread people who fall asleep on the bar. It's a little sad, though. There's a little tiny icing clock on the wall that says 2:00 p.m.

ROCCA: Where does the urine smell come from?

SAGAL: Well, that comes from the Miller High Life eventually. The kit sold out almost immediately, but you can make your own dive bar at home. Just take a regular gingerbread house and add a nearly unusable toilet and a poster of the 1989 Cubs starting lineup. Bill, how did Katie do?

KURTIS: Amazing - 3 and 0, perfect score.

SAGAL: Congratulations, Katie. Well done.

MCINTIRE: Thank you. That was great.

SAGAL: It really was. Thank you so much for playing.


SAGAL: Bye-bye.


JIMMY BUFFETT AND ALAN JACKSON: (Singing) Pour me something tall and strong. Make it a hurricane before I go insane. It's only half past 12, but I don't care. It's 5 o'clock somewhere.

SAGAL: Now on to our final game, Lightning Fill-In-The-Blank. Each of our players will have 60 seconds in which to answer as many fill-in-the-blank questions as they can. Each correct answer now worth two points. Bill, can you give us the scores?

KURTIS: I sure can. Faith has two, Tom has three and Mo has three.

SAGAL: Faith, that means you are in third place. You're up first. The clock will start when I begin your first question. Fill in the blank. On Wednesday, President Biden traveled to Kentucky to visit areas devastated by blank.

SALIE: Tornadoes.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: On Tuesday, Pfizer said their blank pill could prevent severe illness.




SAGAL: This week, the Federal Reserve announced plans to taper their bond purchases to help fight blank.

SALIE: Inflation.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: On Monday, a New York ethics panel ruled that disgraced governor blank must return his $5 million in book proceeds.

SALIE: Andrew Cuomo.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: This week, a man in Britain says he's recovering well after being attacked by blank.

SALIE: Oh, zebras.

SAGAL: Twenty adorable otters. On Thursday, scientists warned that the ice shelf in the blank could crack soon, leading to more rising sea levels.

SALIE: Antarctica.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: On Wednesday, T-Mobile announced a $20 per hour blank for all employees.

SALIE: Raise.

SAGAL: Yeah, minimum wage - no, well, minimum wage. I'll give it to you. Yes, it is a raise.


SAGAL: This week, a couple told...


SAGAL: ...The New York Times that after two years of bliss, recent renovations, they're no longer able to share their house with blank.

SALIE: Their respective mothers-in-law.

SAGAL: No, with 80,000 bees. The couple discovered this colony living in their shower two years ago, but decided - and this is a real quote - "we were like, we'll leave you alone. You leave us alone. They were nice bees." When they finally called a beekeeper to relocate the hive, he was shocked to find that the entire bathroom was covered in 100 pounds of honey. The hive was successfully removed, making way for the couple's new roommates, 80,000 hungry bears.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Faith do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Faith had six right for 12 more points. She now has 14 and the lead.

SAGAL: All right. I'm going to arbitrarily pick Tom to go next. Fill in the blank. On Tuesday, the House recommended criminal contempt charges against former Trump chief of staff blank.

BODETT: Mark Meadows.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a request to block New York's blank mandate for health workers.

BODETT: Vaccination.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: During a video call this week, Vladimir Putin and blank jointly agreed to reject Western interference on security issues.

BODETT: Was it the Chinese premier?

SAGAL: It was China.


SAGAL: To avoid the U.S. defaulting, the Senate voted to raise the blank by $2.5 trillion on Tuesday.

BODETT: The debt ceiling.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: To commemorate the death of Kim Jong Il, North Korea announced it was banning blank for 11 days.


SAGAL: All laughter. On Wednesday, a NASA probe became the first spaceship to touch the blank.

BODETT: The rings of Saturn.

SAGAL: No, the sun. It made it to the outer corona of the sun. Following the example of a store in Buffalo, workers at two Starbucks in Boston filed to join a blank.

BODETT: A union.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: This week, a man in Singapore...


SAGAL: ...Who was caught driving without a license tried to convince police he was his own brother, only to discover blank.

BODETT: That he actually was.

SAGAL: No. He discovered that his brother was also wanted by the police. After he was pulled over, the man, he had to think quickly. He didn't have a license, so he convinced police, oh, my brother - which worked out great until the moment the cops arrested him for his brother's outstanding warrants. The driver quickly recanted and promised he would tell police his real identity right after he got off the phone with his cousin to see if he was in any trouble with the law. Bill, how did Tom do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Well, he had five right for 10 more points. He now has 13, but Faith still has the lead with 14.


SAGAL: All right. OK, then, how many, then, does Mo need to win?

KURTIS: Six to win. Let's count them together.

SAGAL: All right, here we go, Mo. This is for the game. Fill in the blank. On Wednesday, Moderna said their booster shot offers protection against blank.

ROCCA: The coronavirus.


SAGAL: Yes. Well...

ROCCA: Omicron. Omicron.

SAGAL: Omicron, right. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that the Justice Department could share blank's tax returns with the Ways and Means Committee.

ROCCA: Donald Trump.


ROCCA: Right. On Sunday, Chris Wallace announced he was leaving Fox News to join blank's streaming service.



SAGAL: Right. A New York City transit official this week insists he drives with a blank for the company and not to get around HOV restrictions.

ROCCA: Oh, a blow-up doll.


SAGAL: Yes. He insists he drives around with a blow-up doll of a man in a suit for the company. On Thursday, two women accused "Sex And The City" star blank of sexual assault.

ROCCA: Chris Noth.


SAGAL: Yeah. On Wednesday, popular message board site blank filed for an IPO.

ROCCA: Oh, is it that Reddit thing?


SAGAL: It is that Reddit thing. This week, a pair of thieves were sentenced to 18 months in prison, and even worse, they were told they could not keep the blank they bought with a stolen debit card.

ROCCA: The mattress.

SAGAL: No. They can't keep the $4 million winning lottery ticket.

ROCCA: Oh my gosh.

SAGAL: So they steal somebody's debit card number, and they go to London. They use it to buy a ticket. They win $4 million, and they go on this huge binge for five days throughout London. They take pictures the whole time, which were then used to prosecute them successfully. Sadly, they were not allowed to keep the money, but they will always have that evidence. Bill, did Mo do well enough to win?

KURTIS: Pretty well. Six right - 12 more points. He has a total of 15, and that means he is this week's champion.

SAGAL: Now, panel, who will be Time magazine's Person of the Year next year? Tom Bodett.

BODETT: Jeff Bezos, because his rockets look even more like penises.


SAGAL: Faith Salie.

SALIE: Whoever invents a way to keep Elon Musk in space.


SAGAL: And Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: A bottle of Old Spice, because that's a musk we actually like.


KURTIS: And if any of that happens, we'll ask you about it on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

SAGAL: Thank you, Bill Kurtis. Thanks also to Tom Bodett, Faith Salie and Mo Rocca. And thanks to all of you for listening. I'm Peter Sagal. We'll see you next week.


SAGAL: This is NPR.

Copyright © 2021 NPR.All rights reserved.Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.