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'Wait Wait' for Jan. 1, 2022: Happy New Year Edition

Jan 1, 2022
Originally published on January 1, 2022 10:01 am

It was both the longest and shortest year ever, but we finally made it! This week, we say goodbye to 2021 by remembering some of our favorite moments from the past year, because it's more fun than trying to remember the words to "Auld Lang Syne." Click the link above to hear the full audio.

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Robin and Brook Lopez Play Not My Job
Robin and Brook Lopez are the only seven-foot-tall identical twins in the NBA. They bring the competitiveness of their on court rivalry onto the show when we ask them three questions about the shortest U.S. presidents in a game we call, "Lopezes, Meet the Low Prezes!"

Panel Questions:
Beach Bummer, Fruit Snack, Mrs. Smith Goes To Cambridge, Viral Restaurant

André De Shields Plays Not My Job
André De Shields is a Broadway legend, starring in such hits as Hadestown, The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin' and The Full Monty. He knows so much about Broadway, that we asked him three questions about narrow ways, namely, canals.

Martin Short Plays Not My Job
Comedy (and Canadian) icon Martin Short is the star of one of 2021's bright spots, Only Murders in the Building, so when he joined us earlier this year, we had him play a game we called, "Only Murders of Crows in the Building."

Jane Kaczmarek Plays Not My Job
Jane Kaczmarek is one of the most successful sitcom actors of all time, nominated for Emmy awards seven years in a row for her performance as Lois in Malcolm in the Middle. When she joined us on stage at Tanglewood, we asked her three questions about middle fingers throughout history.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news Quiz. I'm the man whose New Year's resolution is to be even more legendary. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here's your host, who's taking advantage of being stuck in the house to dress up as the Baby New Year, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill. A new year is beginning, and it seems so strange. It feels like we just started to endure the last one.

KURTIS: It turns out time also flies when you're having no fun at all. Who knew?

SAGAL: But the new year will have to provide at least as many good times as 2021 did. So to set the bar, we're going to give you some highlights. Pay attention, 2022. You have to be at least this good.

KURTIS: In November, we visited with the only two identical twins to play in the NBA, Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks and Robin Lopez of the Orlando Magic. Peter asked them if the trash talk between them on the court ever got personal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

ROBIN LOPEZ: It can. But what's more fun for us is giving dirt - planting dirt with our teammates. It's a lot more unexpected that way when it comes from somebody you don't expect to know something so close to home.

HARI KONDABOLU: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Oh, OK. Robin, I need an example. So you like - you say, oh, we're going to play Milwaukee. Here - you say to your teammates, this is what I want you to know about Brook that you can mention to him at an opportune moment. What do you tell them?

R LOPEZ: Yeah, something like how about in high school, you know, I went to the senior prom, and Brook wasn't able to go with the girl he wanted to go with - something like that, you know?

ADAM FELBER: (Laughter).

R LOPEZ: Except we would use names and stuff - things that will surprise, shock and cut deep.

SAGAL: Oh, does it work, Brook? Are you, like, on the court, and some other player's like - you know, you're under the post and he's like, yeah, Marie Kekowski (ph) turned you down for the prom. And you're like, what?

(LAUGHTER)

BROOK LOPEZ: What do you know about Marie?

(LAUGHTER)

B LOPEZ: I mean, it goes to show how devious he is. I mean, he's bringing it up here on this radio program right now, right?

SAGAL: (Laughter).

B LOPEZ: Like, you shouldn't be telling people this stuff. He's a terrible brother.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But you were once on the same team, briefly. Do you prefer that or do you prefer to be on different teams and to get to play each other on occasion?

R LOPEZ: I enjoy the company of Brook. I enjoyed the season I had with him. I would've done it again, but I'm not sure if Brook poisoned that well or what.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah, he couldn't take the competition. But you have a series of games this weekend in Milwaukee - Magic vs. the Bucks. Do you guys, like, put aside your brotherly affection and actually go at it when you play each other?

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: Yeah, yeah, we do. Yeah, we guard each other. So we do. And I honestly think that the referees across the league have this thing where when they see we're guarding each other or we're playing against each other that night, they let us go out at war. And they - I mean...

KONDABOLU: (Laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: Look, I love all the refs, but they miss a lot of calls normally. We make mistakes, too, playing, but they intentionally let us beat each other up when we're guarding each other, no question.

SAGAL: Really?

FELBER: That's awesome.

SAGAL: And does it get rough? Are you guys dirty and - are you guys dirty when you - when you're guarding each other - a little elbows action? What's happening?

B LOPEZ: I don't think so. I just - I think he gets a little, like, you know...

R LOPEZ: It gets...

B LOPEZ: ...I'm better than him. So I score a couple buckets, and, like, he's frustrated. And I'm, like, human nature just...

FELBER: Wow.

B LOPEZ: ...Keeps sending me, like, you know...

SAGAL: Sure.

B LOPEZ: ...Throws above.

SAGAL: Robin, your rebuttal?

R LOPEZ: We're all the hero in our own story.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I do want to get into you because we understand that you guys share a lot of interests outside basketball - that you are both, for example, Disney superfans. This is true?

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: This is true.

SAGAL: All right, I'm going to ask - because I got to ask - what are your favorite rides? Brook?

B LOPEZ: Oh, man. I would go - extinct is the original Star Tours - always been my favorite.

SAGAL: Really?

B LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah. And then...

SAGAL: That's old school.

B LOPEZ: Yeah. And then Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain - it's my nickname.

KONDABOLU: How on earth do you both not have a Disney podcast?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Hang on, I got to ask. I got to let Robin get - let you get in with your favorite ride.

R LOPEZ: I think my No. 1 all-time is Pirates of the Caribbean from Disneyland in California. And then it's probably Indiana Jones Adventure and, I think, Tower of Terror from Florida.

FELBER: What about - how come neither of you answered Rise of the Resistance?

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: I think it's incredible. It...

SAGAL: This is the new "Star Wars" land or whatever they call it.

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: Correct. I think it's really incredible. I don't know if it's Top 10 worldwide for me just because of the relative newness of it.

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: Yeah, I was going to say - yeah, yeah.

KONDABOLU: Look, I will personally produce this podcast.

(LAUGHTER)

KONDABOLU: I will personally put this together for both of you. This is insane.

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: I'm in. This is just - this is surface level. Surface level.

SAGAL: Have you ever been - is there, like, if you're over this height, you can't ride this ride? Has that ever been a problem?

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: Yes. Yes, that has.

SAGAL: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: So we can do all the Disney rides except in Tokyo Disney - their second gate. So if you're DisneySea, there's an attraction in Lost River Delta, but the height limit is - we're over it. It's, like, 180 centimeters in DisneySea in Tokyo.

SAGAL: Wow. That's kind of sad.

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: And, you know, exactly. That's the thing. We've done every other one. And so I'm willing to risk my life if those people...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: They're strict. The Oriental Land Company in Tokyo Disney - they're very strict about it. When we go up on rides - so there's obviously the language barrier. They show - when we try to first go through the line, they're always like this - no, no, no...

SAGAL: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: ...You can't ride. No, no, no. And then they take us through the back and have us sit in the ride vehicle. We have to sort of prove we fit. And, yeah, so they actually - that's the only one, though, with the height limit.

SAGAL: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: We can't get on it. And so I mean...

SAGAL: You sneak on it. It'd be a shame if you died. They'd say, well, he was decapitated, but he did - he died doing what he loved.

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: He was living his dream, right.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: So I'm kind of using this platform at this very moment to...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED TWIN: ...Like, kind of put it out there.

SAGAL: Well, Robin and Brook Lopez, it is such a joy to talk to you, but we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Lopezes (ph), meet the low prezzes (ph).

SAGAL: You're among America's tallest athletes, but what do you know about America's shortest presidents? We're going to ask you about three people who definitely never dunked on the White House basketball court. Answer two out of three questions correctly - you'll win a prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who are the Lopez brothers of the NBA playing for?

KURTIS: Ann DeLouis (ph) of Sarasota, Fla.

SAGAL: All right. Now, you can collaborate. You can argue - however the moment strikes you. Here's your first question.

Martin Van Buren is tied for second-shortest president at 5 foot 6 inches. Now, lots of presidents have statues made of them, but only Van Buren has what to memorialize him? A - a monument to dedicate the spot where a carriage driver hit a pothole on purpose to fling Van Buren out of the carriage and into the mud; B - a sculpture of just his pointing right hand, which to this day points the way to the restrooms outside of the state dining room; or C - a historical marker indicating the spot Van Buren slipped on some ice that today reads, 'twas the funniest thing that any of the gentlefolk present had ever seen.

B LOPEZ: Well, I really like number one because it makes Van Buren sound like Biff Tannen from the "Back To The Future" movies. Can you help out, Robin, or you still don't understand the question?

(LAUGHTER)

ATSUKO OKATSUKA: Oh, my God. He didn't say anything.

R LOPEZ: That wasn't even clever. That was just hurtful.

(LAUGHTER)

R LOPEZ: I'm going to go with C for me.

SAGAL: All right. There's a difference of opinion. You can't choose - well, you know what? This is what we're going to do because this is how we're going to do it because you're competitors. You're going to choose A, Brook. Robin's choosing C. Are you both happy with that answer?

R LOPEZ: I'm very happy with mine.

SAGAL: Brook got it. It was A.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Yes.

B LOPEZ: Thank you, Biff Tannen.

SAGAL: There you are. That's what happened.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Apparently, ironically enough, Van Buren had opposed an infrastructure bill to help fix up the national roads, and some people in Indiana wanted him to know just how bad those roads were. All right. You have two more chances. And, you know, maybe, you know, Robin can come back in this one.

Benjamin Harrison was also 5 foot 6 inches tall. He was not afraid of the challenges of the presidency, but he was afraid of what? A - iguanas; B - light switches; or C - the candy man.

R LOPEZ: I'm going to go with A, iguanas.

SAGAL: You're going to go with iguanas. Robin chooses iguanas. Brook?

B LOPEZ: I like the idea of Benjamin Harrison being terrified to turn on a light switch for being - fear of being electrified.

SAGAL: All right. Brook goes for light switches. Robin goes for iguanas. Are you both happy with your choices?

R LOPEZ: Yes.

B LOPEZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: Brook got it again.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It was light switches.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: He was president just as electricity came to the White House, and he was absolutely terrified that if he touched the light switch, he'd be electrocuted. He and his wife would go to sleep with the lights on unless a servant would come in and turn it off for them.

B LOPEZ: I sleep with the lights on, but that's because I'm scared of the wicked witch.

SAGAL: All right. Well, that's also valid. That's also valid. All right, your last question. Let's see here if Robin can get one.

FELBER: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right. James Madison, as I'm sure you both know, having been to the Hall of Presidents many a time, was the shortest president - only 5 foot 4 inches. Yet he played a vital role in the American Revolution, including when Thomas Jefferson assigned him to do A - measure animals to prove that the United States was not naturally inferior to Europe; B - find a replacement for British tea by boiling up all the plants that grew around Philadelphia; or C - steal the Declaration of Independence.

R LOPEZ: I got to go with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B, find a replacement for British tea by just about boiling up everything they could find and see if it tasted good.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: OK. That's your choice. Brook?

B LOPEZ: I was going to pick A just because I love A so much.

SAGAL: Measuring animals to prove that the United States wasn't naturally inferior - that's your choice.

B LOPEZ: What a job. That's incredible.

SAGAL: All right. Your choice. Again, I'll ask you, is that your final answers? Are those your final answers?

R LOPEZ: Final answer.

B LOPEZ: Yeah. Final answer. Yes.

R LOPEZ: Lock it in.

SAGAL: Brook just went 3 for 3.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: He was correct.

OKATSUKA: What?

KONDABOLU: Wow.

SAGAL: The answer was measure animals.

B LOPEZ: (Laughter) What? What?

SAGAL: The answer was measure animals. And, by the way, Madison included in his measurements the distance between - and I swear to you this is true - the difference - he measured the distance between the anus and the vulva of the American weasel.

B LOPEZ: Wow.

R LOPEZ: He was very thorough.

B LOPEZ: Very thorough.

R LOPEZ: Very thorough.

SAGAL: Yeah. He was.

B LOPEZ: Well, hopefully, according to you guys, he didn't set a measurement of his own stature, or for sure, Europe would have thought we were inferior.

SAGAL: That's true.

B LOPEZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: He did not do that because that would have given the game away.

B LOPEZ: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: This horse is 1 1/2 Madisons.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Bill, how did the Lopez brothers do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Oh, they did very, very well. They got 3 out of 3, so that means - let's call that a win.

SAGAL: All right. I think I need to point out, if only for Brook's satisfaction, that technically, Brook got 3 out of 3. I would - I'm going to - I'm just going to - I'm not a basketball expert. I'm predicting some flagrant fouls at this weekend's game.

B LOPEZ: Emotionally flagrant fouls.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

B LOPEZ: Just don't bring up Sadie Sach (ph) in my junior year.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Oh. Robin and Brook Lopez play for the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks respectively. If you want to see them go head-to-head, you can see them face off this Saturday, again on Monday. We had so much fun with you guys. Thank you so much for being on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

R LOPEZ: Thank you so much.

B LOPEZ: Oh, thank you, guys. You, too. This was a lot of - this was so much fun.

R LOPEZ: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH")

SKEE-LO: (Rapping) Hello? I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller. I wish I had a girl who looked good. I would call her. Wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat...

KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here's your host who thought maybe this year he'd keep his resolution not to make "Game Of Thrones" references, at least through the weekend, Peter Sagal.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Thank you, Bill.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Also, winter is coming.

Anyway, we had to do most of our work on Zoom this year, just like most people. But unlike most people, when I look at my screen, I get to see our panelists in the tiny boxes, and that makes up for a lot. Here are some never before heard questions we put to our panel this last year.

Atsuko, a small coastal town in Denmark is coming under fire after they spent $150,000 a month to clean up all the trash from their beaches and then they did what with it?

OKATSUKA: They made art. They filled an art museum.

SAGAL: No, it's not - that's not exactly what happened. Although that would actually be better than what they actually did.

OKATSUKA: They removed it, and they made trash cans - new trash cans - big trash cans to catch the trash so it doesn't happen ever again.

SAGAL: No, that's not true.

OKATSUKA: Dang it.

SAGAL: I'll give you a hint.

FELBER: Also a very Scandinavian answer, absolutely.

SAGAL: That's true. That is true. I mean, they thought of as returning the empty tuna can to its home.

OKATSUKA: Is that what happened? Was that the answer (laughter)?

SAGAL: No, that was not the answer. Where does tuna live?

OKATSUKA: Tuna lives in the ocean.

SAGAL: So...

OKATSUKA: Wait. But it came from the ocean, the trash.

SAGAL: Right.

OKATSUKA: You can't put it back in there.

FELBER: Or...

SAGAL: Or you can, which is what they did. And that's what got them in trouble.

OKATSUKA: Oh, right. I forgot where they got the - they got in trouble part.

SAGAL: Yeah, we - I understand. I should've stressed that.

OKATSUKA: Oh, I see.

SAGAL: This is a - usually people don't end up on this show by doing normal things. The town of Slagelse is a popular beach destination during the summer. So to protect nature and keep the shore nice and clean for tourists, the town brought in a bulldozer every week to collect all the garbage in the beach, and then they threw it back in the ocean.

Come on, people, that is absolutely unforgivable. You have to separate it out first. You put some in the trash ocean and some in the recycling ocean.

OKATSUKA: (Laughter).

FELBER: They were just returning that stuff to its natural habitat.

SAGAL: Exactly.

CRISTELA ALONZO: Come on, little plastic bottle, swim away, swim away. You can be free.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: Adam, after inquiries from their readers, The New York Times has finally addressed the question of whether or not it is OK to do what when you eat fruit?

FELBER: Spit out the seeds, I'm guessing.

SAGAL: No, no, not at all. This is a somewhat modern problem. Usually what people do with them is they peel them off - you peel them once off the fruit and then once off your shoe after you've dropped it on the floor.

FELBER: Oh, I did read about this. It's a label.

SAGAL: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

FELBER: The labels are edible.

SAGAL: Yes, it turns out that it is perfectly safe to eat the label or, if you're me, about half of a lot of them. Because they are used on food, they have to be completely non-toxic. It has to be approved by the FDA. And that, of course, is a government agency which only misses a salmonella outbreak in arugula two to three times a month. So you'll be fine. And also, they serve another purpose. I find this very useful. When your tongue is completely covered with them, you know you've eaten enough fruit for now.

(LAUGHTER)

ALONZO: I only eat the stickers that say organic.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: Maeve, you know that college students have suffered a lot this year, like the students at Cambridge University in England, who have to go through their days there without the benefit of what?

MAEVE HIGGINS: The little straw hats.

SAGAL: No, they've got those.

HIGGINS: No, they have those.

SAGAL: The little boaters, yeah. For punting - that's what they do. They punt in straw hats.

HIGGINS: They do.

SAGAL: Yeah.

HIGGINS: Yeah. So OK, so they don't have something.

SAGAL: Yes, what they feel they deserve.

HIGGINS: Their servants aren't allowed to join them.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You're...

ALONZO: (Laughter) The college servant.

SAGAL: You're so close. This is true. They are complaining - the students of Cambridge University - of having to eat store-bought pies.

HIGGINS: Oh, the horror.

(LAUGHTER)

HIGGINS: And so why is that, though? Is that to do with cream cheese?

SAGAL: No, it has to do...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: They have to go to the - they have to eat store-bought pies and cakes because they no longer have the services of what?

HIGGINS: Oh, like a rosy-cheeked kind of a matriarchal figure in the dungeon who, like, pumps out baked goods for them.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: If by that you mean a pastry chef, you are correct.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

ALONZO: It's like Mrs. Garrett from "Facts Of Life."

SAGAL: There's been a...

HIGGINS: Exactly.

SAGAL: ...Labor dispute between kitchen staff and the management at Cambridge, and the pastry chef quit and also a dozen of the staff chefs.

LUKE BURBANK: Well, a baker's dozen.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: Technically 13, but whatever.

ALONZO: (Unintelligible).

SAGAL: And these kids are upset. They are such snobs as, like - Little Debbies? This is Cambridge. We only eat Large Deborahs (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

ALONZO: That sounds good.

SAGAL: There's also - and I know you're all...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I know everybody's worried.

ALONZO: That sounds good.

HIGGINS: Two, please.

SAGAL: Because of the lack of chefs at - and pastry chefs - at Cambridge, there has been a dearth of the usual black-tie events they enjoy there, which is very disheartening for the student body, many of whom have been training their whole lives to discreetly wave away servers offering them hors d'oeuvres.

HIGGINS: That's how they have it hard.

BURBANK: It can be so shocking, sometimes, your monocle will fall out, which is - forget it. After that, no one will marry you.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BURBANK: You're ruined. Ruined at Cambridge.

SAGAL: Fortunately, they're still eating because the house elves can't leave unless someone gives them an article of clothing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: Cristela, a family restaurant in Wisconsin got through the pandemic OK, but just this month received another setback. What is the name of the restaurant?

ALONZO: What? Wait, you told me a story?

SAGAL: I did. I was telling you a story. It's like one of those, like, you know...

ALONZO: The name of a restaurant.

SAGAL: Like one of those riddles.

HIGGINS: Try McDonald's or something.

(LAUGHTER)

ALONZO: Like Skyline Chili?

SAGAL: No, no. Think about it.

HIGGINS: (Laughter) Skyline Chili.

SAGAL: So they just received this major setback, this major blow to their possible fortunes, just in the last month.

BURBANK: What would be the worst - like, the worst name your restaurant could have based on the current news?

ALONZO: Oh.

BURBANK: Sorry. Was that too much, Peter?

SAGAL: No, no, no. That was very helpful.

ALONZO: Hold on. I am so upset at myself. Why don't I know this?

SAGAL: All right, I will give you a hint. I don't know if you know this. We're generous with hints around here. The Delta Cafe down the street, on the other hand, was delighted.

ALONZO: Omnicron (ph)?

SAGAL: Yes, it is...

ALONZO: Omnicron (laughter).

SAGAL: The name of the restaurant is the Omicron...

ALONZO: Oh, come on.

SAGAL: The name of the restaurant in Wisconsin is called the Omicron Family Restaurant.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It's been around for 30 years ever since they replaced Polio's Biscuit World.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And everybody in town loves the restaurant. They know their slogan - with flavor like this, let's hope you never lose your sense of taste for some reason.

(LAUGHTER)

ALONZO: Wow.

SAGAL: Just this last week - you know, they knew what was going on, and they noticed more and more people coming in. And some of them were, like, taking pictures of their sign. And they're like, oh, was it the Yelp review that said, quote, "their club sandwich has slightly more bacon than average"? No, it was rubberneckers there to witness a disaster in progress.

ALONZO: Wow.

SAGAL: But they have embraced it. They are now selling T-shirts with a picture of a beer bottle, and the T-shirt says, I got corona at Omicron.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: Wow.

SAGAL: Got to give them credit. If they lean into this anymore, they will fall into a grave.

KURTIS: That's a pivot.

HIGGINS: It doesn't sound like a restaurant name. Yeah.

ALONZO: It doesn't. I was going to guess something like...

HIGGINS: Restaurant names are usually like Sausage Place or like...

(LAUGHTER)

HIGGINS: They something about the...

SAGAL: You know, I don't know this for sure, but...

ALONZO: It's Sausage Place.

BURBANK: Hey, do you guys want to meet at Sausage Place after the show and grab some...

ALONZO: What location, Sausage Place 1 or 2?

SAGAL: What's - I mean, it's probable that the family is named Omicron. I mean, I can't think of why otherwise you would name your restaurant...

BURBANK: Are they robots?

SAGAL: Yeah, no, it - I mean...

BURBANK: Is that a last name?

SAGAL: I don't know how recently your ancestors came to this country.

ALONZO: Maybe it's a Greek restaurant.

SAGAL: It's probably a Greek restaurant. Maybe they came and they changed their name at Ellis Island because they thought Bubonic would never play in this country.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Last April, we spoke to the coolest man in the world, Broadway legend Andre De Shields.

KURTIS: Second-coolest at best.

SAGAL: What would you say to a tie for first?

KURTIS: I'll allow it this time.

SAGAL: I asked him if, when he was growing up, his family back in Baltimore encouraged his dreams of Broadway fame.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

ANDRE DE SHIELDS: They said, yeah, right, Andre. Why don't you get serious and look for a job? And, well, you know, when you hear things like that, you have to keep your dream close to your vest because you don't want it to get sullied.

SAGAL: Yeah, yeah. One of the - for those who haven't seen "Hadestown" on Broadway - and I hope...

DE SHIELDS: Who's that? Who hasn't seen it?

ADAM BURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Is - one of - I mean, the show begins with you just walking onstage. If I remember correctly, nothing has happened yet.

DE SHIELDS: Well...

SAGAL: No? Am I wrong?

DE SHIELDS: If I may - no, no, no, you're not wrong. But I just want to give you a small adjustment.

SAGAL: Please.

DE SHIELDS: When the stage manager says, warning, go, it's the entire company except Hermes that explodes onto the stage. And then Hermes enters from stage left and threads the needle all the way stage right. That's what mesmerizes the audience.

SAGAL: Right. I'm not surprised to hear that I forgot that anyone else existed as soon as you walked onstage...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Because I cannot - I wish I could describe the manner in which you carry yourself as Hermes the god or maybe just as Andre De Shields. Do you practice that? When you go out in the street, do you know that you are Andre De Shields, dammit, and you are going to walk?

DE SHIELDS: Don't have to practice it any longer. Now, when I do interviews and people ask, who has influenced you? Who are your idols? I reveal something that usually freezes the interviewer's face. My true idol is Yul Brynner.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Consider my face frozen. Yul Brynner.

DE SHIELDS: (Laughter). Now, in every movie that Yul Brynner does, the director - it doesn't matter who the director is - pulls back the camera and pans Yul Brynner as he walks. And he swaggers.

MO ROCCA: Yeah.

DE SHIELDS: And as a young boy, when I saw "The Ten Commandments," I said, I have to cop that. So...

SAGAL: Wow.

DE SHIELDS: I mean, was my own business at the time until I got my first review in a New York newspaper. And the reviewers wrote, Mr. De Shields, why walk when you can strut? And I said, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

DE SHIELDS: But, you know, as they say, he had hit the nail on the head.

SAGAL: Now, when you made it big - and I don't know when you would put that, maybe when you created the role of The Wiz...

DE SHIELDS: I don't know if I've made it big yet.

SAGAL: Did you ever go back to Baltimore in one of your beautiful tailored suits and strut around?

DE SHIELDS: Absolutely. In 2019, after 50 years of sowing my seeds, I finally was able to reap my harvest when I received the Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical. You get 90 seconds to deliver your acceptance speech. So I thought, let me drop a little wisdom bomb on the 9 million people watching. And the first thing I said was, Baltimore, are you in the house?

(LAUGHTER)

DE SHIELDS: Because I am making good on the oath I swore to you when I left in 1964 that someday I would do something to make you sufficiently proud that you would claim me as your native son. And that was that night.

SAGAL: And did Baltimore respond? Do they have an Andre De Shields Day, for example?

DE SHIELDS: The then-mayor invited me back to Baltimore and gave me the key to the city.

SAGAL: There you go.

DE SHIELDS: Yeah, yeah.

ROCCA: Now, can I just say, Andre, when I fell under your spell in 1988, I was an usher over the summer at The National Theatre in Washington, D.C. "Ain't Misbehavin'" was - came through - a revival of the show. So I got to watch you 40 times. And I looked at you, and I thought, I want to be your understudy in this show. Will they ever take a look at me for that?

DE SHIELDS: Well, that time is coming. I would love to see you play The Viper in "Ain't Misbehavin'."

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: I just don't know that I could actually sing the role. It would just be too - I don't know. It would be too challenging.

DE SHIELDS: But, Mo, you'll remember my tour de force moment in "Ain't Misbehavin'" is...

ROCCA: (Singing) I can't give you anything but love, baby. It's the one thing I got plenty of, baby. Talk about dreaming awhile, scheming awhile (ph).

DE SHIELDS: Next.

(LAUGHTER)

DE SHIELDS: That ain't "Reefer Song" - "Viper's Drag." Now that's the tour de force.

ROCCA: Wait. Start it. Start it.

DE SHIELDS: (Singing) I dreamed about a reefer, 5 feet long, a might immense but not too strong.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: No offense, Mo, but I'm really glad I got to see Andre De Shields do that role.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Andre De Shields, what a joy to talk to you. But we have asked you here today to play a game that we're calling...

KURTIS: The great narrow way.

SAGAL: You're a star of Broadway, so why not ask you three questions about narrow ways, specifically canals? Answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly, and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of their choice on their voicemail. Bill, who is lucky enough to have Andre De Shields playing for them right now?

KURTIS: Phil Kennedy of Portland, Ore.

SAGAL: All right. Here's your first question. You probably noticed that the Suez Canal was blocked for about a week by a ship that got stuck there last month. Well, that is not the only time that happened. On another occasion, the Suez Canal was blocked by what - A, a sign a prankster put up right at the entrance saying, do not enter - shark-infested waters; B, a whole fleet of ships that were stranded in the middle of the canal for eight years; or C, a very, very fat whale?

DE SHIELDS: It's B.

SAGAL: Yes, it is B.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It is.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: A whole fleet of ships got stranded in the canal when it was closed during the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt. And they stayed there for eight years.

Next question - the Suez Canal was supposed to feature something that ended up being used elsewhere. What was it? Was it, A, the Statue of Liberty; B, the Mall of America; or C, the Rockettes?

DE SHIELDS: The Statue of Liberty.

SAGAL: That's right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: The sculptor of the Statue of Liberty, Monsieur Bartholdi, first conceived the big lady statue to be put at the entrance of the Suez Canal. And the Egyptians said, yeah, no. So he just kind of redesigned it and said, America, how would you like it? And now we have it. So there you go.

All right, last question - the most famous canals are probably those in Venice. It was while filming on the canals in Venice that Katharine Hepburn changed her life forever. What happened? A, she decided that she had to have canals of her own and spent 30 years digging them around her house in Connecticut; B, she insisted in all her contracts going forward that she would only travel to and from set by gondola; or C, she jumped into the canal, which was so filthy it caused an eye infection that lasted for the rest of her life?

DE SHIELDS: I think it's the eye infection.

SAGAL: You're right, Andre.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: That's what happened.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: She insisted on doing her own stunts, so she jumped into the canal three times - three takes - got some sort of conjunctivitis, and it just pestered her for the rest of her life. So remember, everybody, don't do your own stunts.

DE SHIELDS: Or do your own stunts, but don't do it in a canal.

SAGAL: Right. Do your own stunts unless the stunt involves jumping into the canals of Venice.

DE SHIELDS: Right, right, right.

BURKE: That's such wonderfully specific advice.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yes, exactly. Bill, how did Andre De Shields (laughter) do on our quiz?

KURTIS: He got 3 out of 3. And, Andre, that means you're the biggest winner we've ever had here.

DE SHIELDS: Yay. How did I do, Portland?

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Yay. Andre De Shields is a Tony Award-winning actor, writer, choreographer. Thank you so much. What an absolute joy to talk to you.

DE SHIELDS: It's been my pleasure.

SAGAL: Thrilled you were on the show.

ROCCA: Bravo.

KURTIS: Thank you, Andre.

ROAD TO HELL

HADESTOWN ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST: (As characters) Chugga chugga chugga chugga, chugga chugga chugga chugga, chugga chugga chugga, chugga.

DE SHIELDS: (As Hermes, singing) Once upon a time there was a railroad line. Don't ask where, brother. Don't ask when. It was the road to hell. It was hard times. It was a world of gods and men.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here is your host, who is taking pride that he hasn't eaten an entire Costco sheetcake in one sitting all year, Peter Sagal.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Thanks, Bill. So we are challenging 2022 to be as much fun as 202 - or at least as much fun as we had when we were talking to certain people. They know who they are.

KURTIS: Martin Short had done everything in comedy - everything except a streaming comedy murder mystery/podcast parody - until last years' "Only Murders In The Building." He joined us in September.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

SAGAL: So the show is yourself and your old friend Steve Martin.

MARTIN SHORT: And Selena Gomez.

SAGAL: And Selena Gomez, of course - play these residents of a building. And they're - you're enthusiasts of true crime. And there's a murder. And you guys decide to not only - not only - investigate the murder but do a podcast about it.

SHORT: That is correct.

SAGAL: So I'm sure as a method actor, you investigated the world of podcasts and podcast production.

SHORT: Well, I told people I did.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORT: I didn't.

SAGAL: Now, the show also - you're starring opposite Steve Martin.

SHORT: Yes.

SAGAL: And what's interesting is that you play two characters who, at least at the beginning, really dislike each other.

SHORT: Right.

SAGAL: Or at least aren't fans. And they express that...

SHORT: Well, I'm a director, and I've directed him in things. But then I realize I think he's Scott Bakula.

SAGAL: Right, exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And here's what's funny. I'm like, oh, this is delightful, these old friends. And they're pretending they don't like each other. And then I watched the special you did with him that you went around the country with, and you filmed it for Netflix. And, like, half that show is you insulting each other.

SHORT: You know, when I first met Steve, I insulted him.

SAGAL: What did you say?

SHORT: As a joke. I went to his house to pick up a script for "Three Amigos!" And I picked it up. And it was his old house in Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. And it was just filled with endless pieces of art. I mean, there was a Picasso and a Hopper. And I said, how did you get this rich? Because I've seen your work.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORT: So the insults started right off the bat.

EMMY BLOTNICK: Oh, wow.

SHORT: Then he said to me, can you get this script to Martin Short?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Another thing we heard - and I am dying to know if this is true. I hope it is. I kind of hope it is - that you and Steve Martin and Tom Hanks have an annual colonoscopy party.

SHORT: It is not annual, but it's every four years, yes, with our other friend Walter Parkes, who - big Hollywood producer. And we would, yes, go to Steve's. The table would be set with Jell-O and one (ph) shots. And we would play cards. And then, you know, by midnight, Steve's bathroom looks like a Carnival tour on Day 14 or something.

SAGAL: Right.

SHORT: We were fine. And then we went to a clinic, private.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORT: And then by noon, we went to The Ivy and drank margaritas.

SAGAL: There you go. That's a fine tradition.

SHORT: Oh, I think it's good. And it encourages people to make it into a party...

SAGAL: It is.

SHORT: ...A celebration and a sleepover.

SAGAL: Oh, yeah. We were talking about you prior to your showing up. And all of us being of different ages sort of particularly admired you for one thing or another, right? So there was one of us who was like, oh, my God, "Father Of The Bride" - he's amazing. Some of us like the incredibly famous synchronized swimming sketch from "Saturday Night Live," your year there. We have a younger person on our staff. And when your name came up, she went nuts for something I had never heard of. You ready for this?

SHORT: Yes.

SAGAL: Preminger in the Barbie movie "The Princess And The Pauper." Do you remember that role?

SHORT: Well, I'd have to check that one out again.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Wait a minute. You don't remember doing it?

SHORT: I do remember doing it. I remember the credit.

SAGAL: Right. You seen - you've looked at your own IMDb page.

SHORT: And I go, I've got to check that out.

PETER GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: But apparently, for a generation of young women...

SHORT: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...Your performance as, I gather, the villain, Preminger, was life-changing.

SHORT: I bet I was on point.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Did you enjoy doing this new television show on Hulu? Are you going to do more of these?

SHORT: Yeah, it was fantastic. It was great. It's - and again, it is about the hang. It's not about...

SAGAL: Right.

SHORT: You can't control the end result. But if - you have to make the experience fun and loose and everyone laughing in the set and happy to be at work. And Steve works that way. I work that way. And so does Selena. So it made it very easy.

SAGAL: Did Selena - because she is of a much younger generation - introduce you guys on the set to anything that you didn't know about?

SHORT: Yeah, she explained the - she read the lyrics to "WAP" to Steve.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORT: It was so fantastic. I was called to the set midway through. And then I'm on the set, and Steve comes on the set and says, Marty, I just heard five new stanzas to "Top Hat And Tails" (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So Selena Gomez, who's, of course, among many other things, a pop star, recited the lyrics to...

SHORT: Yeah, she was - she had them on her phone.

GROSZ: That's her screensaver.

SAGAL: It wasn't enough - like, you couldn't show Steve Martin the video. Is that, like, not allowed or - you know?

SHORT: No, no, no. He wanted to hear them.

SAGAL: Right.

SHORT: It was hysterical because she was also laughing hysterically as she was doing it (unintelligible). That's very funny.

SAGAL: That's amazing.

SHORT: Yeah.

SAGAL: Well, Martin Short, it is such a joy to talk to you, but we have asked you here this time to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Only Murders of Crows in the Building.

SAGAL: Since you're starring in a TV show about a murder, we thought we'd ask you about a murder of crows, which is what you supposedly call a group of crows. Nobody has ever asked the crows about that, but we'll just go with it. So if you answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly about crows, you will win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Martin Short playing for?

KURTIS: Andrew White (ph) of San Diego, Calif.

SAGAL: All right, first question. Crows hold grudges, and they often hold grudges against the researchers who have to annoy them during experiments. On one occasion, a group of researchers then afterwards protected themselves from revenge by the crows by doing what? A, dressing up in giant crow suits, so the crows would be intimidated; B, subscribing to the crows' podcasts; or C, wearing Dick Cheney masks?

SHORT: I believe I know this, and they dressed up as giant crows.

SAGAL: They did not dress up as giant crows. They did not.

SHORT: That's what I'm saying.

SAGAL: Yes - no, they wore Dick Cheney masks is what they did.

SHORT: Oh, that seems made up.

SAGAL: And it - no, it's true. The actual way it worked is they had worn gorilla masks while they were working with the crows. And then the crows were able to recognize the gorilla masks later in public and attack them. So they decided to see if they were recognizing, like, it was a particular kind of mask or just a mask. They put on Dick Cheney masks, and the crows...

SHORT: And that scared the crows.

SAGAL: No, the crows were like, you're cool, man. The crows are into Dick Cheney.

SHORT: Oh, I see.

GROSZ: 'Cause he shoots people, Martin, remember.

SAGAL: Exactly.

GROSZ: Dick Cheney only shoots people.

SHORT: That's right, yeah. OK, so far I'm not doing well. Go ahead.

SAGAL: No, you have two more chances. That's fine. Crow families, it turns out, are a lot like human families, including in which of these ways? Crows sometimes divorce and remarry, and then the new mate tries to bribe the chicks by bringing them gifts; B, crow couples have date nights, and they ask nearby squirrels to babysit; or C, sometimes crow kids never move out of the nest because they cannot find a job?

SHORT: Well, they're all just so damned silly. I think it is the last one.

SAGAL: And you'd be correct.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SHORT: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Yeah. Failure to launch - crows will sometimes live with their parents for years after becoming adults because they just can't find a nest of their own.

SHORT: It's highly relatable.

SAGAL: It really is. All right, last question. You get this right, you win. There have been a number of celebrity run-ins with crows, as in which of these stories? A, after the pope released Doves of Peace at the Vatican in 2014, they were immediately attacked by a group of crows; B, Brad Pitt briefly dated a crow between Gwyneth and Jennifer; or C, Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz was lifted offstage by a flock of crows and never seen again.

SHORT: I would say it's number one.

SAGAL: You're correct, Mr. Short.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Apparently, the crows - not Catholic.

GROSZ: No.

KURTIS: Bill, how did Martin Short do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Really well. He got 2 out of 3. Martin Short is a winner.

SHORT: Thank you, William.

SAGAL: One more thing that you can remember as vividly as you remember playing Preminger in "Barbie."

(LAUGHTER)

SHORT: Oh, listen. Preminger - I remember that took a long time to come up with that guy.

SAGAL: Yeah, I can see that.

GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Martin Short is currently starring in "Only Murders In The Building." It's now on Hulu. Martin Short, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

SHORT: Thank you so much, guys. It was fun.

SAGAL: A joy to speak to you. Thank you so much, sir.

KURTIS: Bye, Martin.

SAGAL: Take care.

GROSZ: Bye, Martin.

SHORT: Thank you so much.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

SHORT: Bye-bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAP")

CARDI B: (Rapping) I said certified freak, seven days a week. Wet, wet, wet make that, make that game weak.

KURTIS: Finally, we took advantage of the summer weather to do one of our first shows in front of a live audience in 18 months - outdoors this past August in Tanglewood in western Massachusetts.

SAGAL: There we were joined by Jane Kaczmarek, the actor most well-known for playing the mom in "Malcolm In The Middle." I asked her how she got her start.

JANE KACZMAREK: I was a very chubby baton twirler.

SAGAL: No, really?

KACZMAREK: Would you - I still do a little, but I don't have a baton.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Peter's in pretty good shape. Twirl him.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Somebody tried that, Paula, once.

(LAUGHTER)

KACZMAREK: I grew up in Milwaukee, in the south side of Milwaukee, near Pulaski High School. And I wanted to take ballet, and my father told me it wasn't culturally beneficial. But I could take baton twirling. Anyway, I was a candette, which was the baton twirlers with the Continental Drum and Bugle Corps. I just - I loved being in parades. My father was in the Air Force Reserve, and parades were a big part of growing up.

And then I went to the University of Wisconsin and decided to be a serious actress. I really - I wanted to - I loved Ibsen and Chekhov. And I decided that I should speak Norwegian fluently because Ibsen, of course, is a Norwegian playwright. So I studied Norwegian. But...

SAGAL: Wait a minute. We missed a beat.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

SAGAL: So you're, like, in the parades. You're twirling your baton. You're having a great time. And then you're at the University of Wisconsin, and you're like - Ibsen.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Then you go off to Yale Drama School.

KACZMAREK: Yeah.

SAGAL: Where you impress everybody with your Norwegian.

JOSH GONDELMAN: And baton twirling.

SAGAL: And baton twirling. And we all know that, like, straight through.

KACZMAREK: (Laughter).

MAZ JOBRANI: How do you say baton in Norwegian?

GONDELMAN: (Laughter).

KACZMAREK: (Non-English language spoken). I don't know.

JOBRANI: (Imitating non-English language).

KACZMAREK: But I do know (non-English language spoken).

JOBRANI: What does that mean?

KACZMAREK: I like to eat fish balls.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

JOBRANI: Was that in Ibsen? That was in the play, right?

KACZMAREK: (Laughter) That's in the - you know, (non-English language spoken). I have a desire for potatoes, thank you.

SAGAL: So is that how you got into Yale Drama School?

POUNDSTONE: I have a desire for potatoes?

(LAUGHTER)

GONDELMAN: These are some sexy plays, Paula (laughter).

POUNDSTONE: I have a desire for potatoes.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This brings up, of course - the big question is that you starred in "Malcolm In The Middle," a hugely popular TV series in the - 2006 or '07, around there, and - in which you play a mother who is - shall we say charitably? - a lunatic.

KACZMAREK: I don't think she was.

SAGAL: Well, she's - I mean, there's a scene early on in which you are, like, wandering around the house utterly topless.

KACZMAREK: She was busy.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

GONDELMAN: It's called multitasking, Peter.

SAGAL: All right. All right. All right. So she's not - if she's not a lunatic, tell me about her.

KACZMAREK: You know, I never did anything on that show that I couldn't see myself doing in real life.

SAGAL: Really?

(LAUGHTER)

KACZMAREK: That family had dinner - every time I read about them being dysfunctional. I mean, they - we were aggressive and loud, but we had dinner together every night on that show.

SAGAL: Let me ask you a question. Your co-star in the show was Bryan Cranston. He played your husband. Whatever happened to him?

(LAUGHTER)

KACZMAREK: You know, that guy - we had high hopes for him, too. You know, the first time we met him, it was the scene in the pilot of - he's naked in the kitchen reading the paper. And I'm shaving his back with that hair - that shave thing. But when it came - he's not a hairy guy. He's not that hairy. And they wanted an insert shot of that razor going up a back, you know, like a ski hill - just shaved. So what did they do? Bryan didn't have a back like that. So they went to the Teamsters.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: These are the guys on the set who are there to, like, drive people around. They're like...

KACZMAREK: And eat doughnuts, yeah. But they found the hairiest Teamster.

(LAUGHTER)

GONDELMAN: I love that reality show, by the way, The Hairiest Teamster.

KACZMAREK: He got a hundred dollars.

SAGAL: There you are.

GONDELMAN: I feel like if you tell a guy he's got the hairiest back out of all the Teamsters, you owe him a hundred dollars.

SAGAL: Exactly.

GONDELMAN: Even if he's not on TV after.

SAGAL: Teamsters I know would give you a hundred dollars for giving them that compliment.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. This is really fun, but, Jane Kaczmarek, we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

CHIOKE I'ANSON: Malcolm In The Middle, Meet Finger In The Middle.

SAGAL: So we have - as we have discussed, you starred famously in "Malcolm In The Middle." We thought we'd ask you about the finger in the middle - that is, the rude gesture that it turns out has a very long and interesting history. Answer two out of three questions about flipping the middle finger. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners. Chioke, who is Jane Kaczmarek playing for?

I'ANSON: Lo Hartnett (ph) of Revere, Mass.

SAGAL: Revere?

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: From Revere. All right, here's your first question. One of the earliest recorded uses of the middle finger occurs in what work of literature? Is it A - in Shakespeare's "Merry Wives Of Windsor," in which Falstaff raises what he calls, quote, "the stiff salute, the dastardly digit, the grasping protrusion that holds all and insults all, the glorious finger, Adam's weapon," unquote; was it B - in "The Clouds" by Aristophanes, in which a student flips off Socrates for asking him a dumb question; or was it C - "The Dream Of The Rood," a medieval English text in which Jesus Christ gives the finger to the devil?

KACZMAREK: Gosh, I'm going to go with Shakespeare.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Shakespeare. I'm so delighted you think so, because no, it was actually Aristophanes.

KACZMAREK: Wow.

SAGAL: Yes, in "The Clouds," a student flips off Socrates.

POUNDSTONE: I never in my life could have imagined myself, even in a group of friends, where someone said, no, I'm sorry, it was Aristophanes.

(LAUGHTER)

GONDELMAN: Excuse me. I have to leave forever and never see you again.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. You still have two more chances. This is not a problem. The first documented appearance in America of someone flipping the bird was in 1886 when what happened? A - Republican Orville H. Platt gave the finger to Democrat Zebulon B. Vance on the Senate floor; B - pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn of the Boston Beaneaters was photographed flipping off the New York Giants; or C - former president U. S. Grant ran into Robert E. Lee in the street in Washington.

(LAUGHTER)

KACZMAREK: No, no, no, no, no. Guys?

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBERS: A, A, A, C, A, A, B.

KACZMAREK: B.

SAGAL: Yes, it's B.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)

KACZMAREK: Thank you.

SAGAL: Old Hoss Radbourn - there's a picture of him if you want to see it. Now, the middle finger has a long history in baseball. In 1988, San Diego Padres President Chub Feeney had to resign after he flipped off fans at a baseball game. Why was the whole thing such a big deal? A - the fans all gave him the finger back, setting the Guinness World Record for most birds flipped simultaneously...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...B - a player looked over to see what the big deal was, missed a pop up and lost the game...

POUNDSTONE: Oh.

SAGAL: ...Or C - it was Fan Appreciation Night.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBERS: C, C, B, C.

GONDELMAN: They sound like a C crowd.

KACZMAREK: Yeah, I think so. I'm going to go with C.

SAGAL: And they're all right. It was Fan Appreciation Night.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

POUNDSTONE: There you go.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: And as it turns out, the fans did not appreciate it. Chioke, how did Jane Kaczmarek do on our quiz?

I'ANSON: With a little help from western Massachusetts...

(LAUGHTER)

I'ANSON: ...Jane got two right and is a winner.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Yay. Jane Kaczmarek, thank you so much for joining us. What a joy to talk to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

KACZMAREK: Oh, I had such a good time. Thank you. Thank you. Jane Kaczmarek, everybody.

That's it for our New Year's celebration. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.