A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to go to a live taping of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! in Chicago on the week leading up the fifth birthday of the Stats Page going live to the public. So, I made plans with the staff of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and booked my flight and hotel rooms for most of that week.
Thursday night, I walked over to Chase Tower (I had booked the hotel that was on the next block over) and went down to the lobby of the Auditorium in which the show is normally taped at. There were already a lot of fans queued up to get their tickets; so I joined the queue. When I got up to the table, I was marked down as a VIP and waited in the VIP area. Before the show, I got a chance to meet Peter, Carl, Kyrie, Mo, Simon (which made his first appearance as a panelist that night) and the rest of the crew backstage for a quick meet and greet.
Backstage with Kyrie O’Connor, Peter Sagal, Mo Rocca and Robert Neuhaus
Backstage with Mo Rocca, Robert Neuhaus and the crew
After that, I went to my seat in the front row, right in front of Carl Kasell’s podium and was seated next to his wife. Within a few moments, the panelists came out on stage, along with Peter and Carl.
Peter Sagal, Mo Rocca, Kyrie O’Connor and Simon Amstell on stage
Carl Kasell, Peter Sagal and Mo Rocca on stage
At that point, the show started and so did the fun… big time! Simon Amstell stole the night with his style of wit and humour. Simon seemed to have taken up a child-like curiosity about everything American, had a pretty blasé attitude about the whole Royal Wedding, got into things that are definitely not G-rated (mentioning things like “vagina” and “pornography”), went well past any politically correct lines with his Panelist Prediction, and had a “potty emergency” in the middle of taping. There were many moments in which Simon’s behavior caused Peter to crack up completely. During the Panelist and Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank rounds, Simon officially took the crown of taking excruciating amounts of time to answer questions away from Mo (who was also on the panel). All of this lead to a long taping session, a longer than normal re-tape of several sections, and a lot of material cut out from the radio and podcast version.
Once all of the taping was completed, Peter transitioned over to an audience Q&A session and mentioned two special guests in the audience (Carl’s wife and myself). After that, Peter, Carl and the panelists were available for photos and autographs.
Post show meet and greet
Post show meet and greet
Carl Kasell signing autographs at the post show meet and greet
I was able to snag the autographs of the panelists on the back of the pad that I used to jot down notes during the live taping:
Autographs of Mo Rocca, Kyrie O’Connor and Simon Amstell
Notes taken at the live taping
Later, I went across the street for a brief after-show get-together with Kyrie, Mo, Carl and his wife. There, I was able to answer some of Mo and Kyrie’s questions about their own appearances, etc.
All in all, it was an awesome night and I would love to be able to do it again soon. Huge thanks to Peter, Carl, Kyrie, Mo, Simon and the whole Wait Wait gang for the great show and allowing me to get a peek behind the scenes!