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Who's Bill This Time?

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. Hey there, mom. Get a load of this BILF (ph). I'm Bill Kurtis.


KURTIS: And here's your host, a man now available for curbside pickup, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. And thanks one more time to our fake audience, which this week is a grateful nation realizing that, finally, there will be no more debates. We all know that the difference between radio and the movies is that the movies are all about sex appeal, and nobody got our heart pounding harder than the sea monster in the Oscar-winning movie "The Shape Of Water." What gills on that guy - am I right? So later on, we're going to be talking to the man who played that character. He's now starring in "Star Trek: Discovery." His name is Doug Jones.

But remember, just be yourself when you call in to play our games. 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.

VANESSA SANDERS: Hi. I'm Vanessa (ph).

SAGAL: Hey, Vanessa. Where are you calling from?

SANDERS: Portland, Ore.

SAGAL: Portland, Ore. - I always ask everyone how they're doing, but you're from Portland. How are you doing?

SANDERS: Well, I'm in college, so not super great.

SAGAL: Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, that must be tough. What are you studying out there?

SANDERS: I'm studying public health.

SAGAL: Oh, that is a very useful thing. How quickly can you graduate and come out and help us with all this crisis?

SANDERS: Two years.

SAGAL: All right. We'll try to hang on...

KURTIS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Until then, Vanessa. Welcome to the show. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First, an actor and a writer who won't be sleeping until after the election. It's Peter Grosz.


PETER GROSZ: Hi, Vanessa.


SAGAL: Next, it's a comedian and writer whose comedy horror movie "Extra Ordinary" is streaming now. It's Maeve Higgins.




HIGGINS: Good luck in the game.

SAGAL: And joining us on the panel for the first time - you can see him on "Tacoma FD." He's a voice on "Star Trek: Lower Decks." It's Eugene Cordero.



SAGAL: Now, Vanessa, welcome to the show. You're going to play Who's Bill this time? Bill Kurtis is going to read you three quotations from this 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 for your voicemail. You ready to go?


SAGAL: All right. Your first quote comes from the president this week offering his strong, unified closing campaign message.

KURTIS: I take full responsibility. It's not my fault.

SAGAL: In what event did the president say, the buck stops with me, but don't give me any bucks?

SANDERS: The presidential debate.

SAGAL: Exactly right.


SAGAL: It might have been the final presidential debate we ever have. By 2028, instead, we'll have battles in the blood pit to determine who will become the death chieftain. Now...

HIGGINS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...After the first debate, which was a complete clusterchat (ph), the debate commission changed the rules for this week's final debate, saying that each candidate's mic will be muted while the other person makes their two-minute statements. And America was, like, wait - there's a button you can push and mute Donald Trump? You couldn't give us that four years ago?

GROSZ: As long as he's not the one pushing the button, I think it's just...


GROSZ: I think that's fine.

CORDERO: I mean, I didn't hear enough shut ups in this one.


SAGAL: Yeah.

CORDERO: I need to hear them both - will you shut up?


CORDERO: And I just - I need that.

SAGAL: So President Trump started off the debate making big promises. He says a vaccine will be ready in a matter of weeks due to what he calls Operation Warp Speed, which you just know is going to end up creating a supervillain.


GROSZ: I think it already has.

SAGAL: Yeah, possibly.

GROSZ: I really felt - like, when the second one was canceled, I felt, like, palpable relief...

SAGAL: Yeah.

GROSZ: ...Because I feel drawn to watch them. I feel, like, a civic duty...

SAGAL: Right.

GROSZ: ...Sort of, like, a comedic duty to kind of, like, watch and know what's going on. And it's, like, a relief. It's like a snow day or something when there's no presidential debate.


GROSZ: Like, oh, thank God. I don't have to do this. And so when there was this one, I kept waiting for Trump to be, like, I'm not going to do it or something.

SAGAL: But it's so awful, Peter - because of the technology now, if there's a snow day, President Trump just screams at you at home. It's really...

GROSZ: Yeah.

CORDERO: It's true.

SAGAL: There's no relief, man.

HIGGINS: But I love the idea - I don't know if you get this, too, Eugene - like that Peter said he has a comedic sense of duty. I never get that. It's not like if I see a banana peel, I'm, like, oh, here I go.


HIGGINS: I don't want to, but that's my job.


SAGAL: My profession...

GROSZ: ...On a banana peel.

SAGAL: My audience demands it. Whoa.

CORDERO: Yeah. There's that banana peel that everybody's waiting for. I mean, I was upset that in this debate, there wasn't more plexiglass so that it was just covering them completely, and then there was money shooting out from the bottom, and they had to grab...


CORDERO: ...You know, as much cash as they could, you know, within one minute or something.

SAGAL: All right. Let's move on to your next quote. You're next quote, Vanessa, is from a company sued by the Justice Department for being an illegal monopoly this week.

KURTIS: People use it because they choose to, not because they're forced to.

SAGAL: So what are we not technically forced to use every day, but we all still use it every day?

SANDERS: Google.

SAGAL: Yes, Google.


SAGAL: Very good, Vanessa.


SAGAL: Search giant Google is sued by the Justice Department this week for antitrust violations, which brings up the question, why would the Justice Department move against a company that knows the search history of everybody who works there? You know, like, Bill Barr is, like, no, guys don't make them mad. Antitrust, of course, refers to laws that limit the growth of monopolies. Antitrust also refers to the feeling you get when your significant other tells you not to worry about the person they've been texting.

GROSZ: When your name becomes a verb that is beyond your company's name, then you automatically have a monopoly, don't you? Like, when you become a different part of speech than you...


GROSZ: ...Started out as...

SAGAL: Exactly. Like, you know, Kleenex, of course, is the...


SAGAL: ...Dominant giant in the facial tissue. You know, what are you going to do about it?

GROSZ: Well, I prefer...

SAGAL: They control...

GROSZ: I prefer a Woodco...


GROSZ: ...Facial tissue.

CORDERO: I also just go, oh, I'm about to sneeze. Can somebody hand me a facial tissue?


SAGAL: Do you know what's actually interesting - is there's a quirk in copyright law that if your brand becomes the word for the object that you make, like Xerox or Kleenex or Band-Aid, you lose the right to it.


SAGAL: So all of these companies are constantly having lawyers sending out letters to people saying, no, your character on television did not use a Kleenex. He used a facial tissue. If that - it's very strange. Yeah.

GROSZ: Pretty funny.

CORDERO: Wow. Yeah, people always to me are always, like, man, I just Eugened (ph) that...

SAGAL: (Laughter).

CORDERO: ...Which means that they...

GROSZ: What does it...

CORDERO: ...Kind of mumbled - they mumbled their way through something. So now I go by Eugenay (ph) Cordero...


CORDERO: ...Because I can't use my actual name.

SAGAL: All right, Vanessa. We have one more quote for you. Here is your last quote.

KURTIS: It's enough to make you want to slide on your webcam cover, shut down your machine, put it in a lockbox and throw it into the sea.

SAGAL: That was a writer for Slate talking about the phenomenon called FOBO, or fear of being on what?


SAGAL: Yes...


SAGAL: Fear of...


SAGAL: ...Being on Zoom when you do not want to be on Zoom. After eight months of doing everything virtually, people have become terrified that they're still screen-sharing when they're doing things they no longer want to share, like eating or undressing or Toobin.

GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: But this is more or less inevitable for all of us. We spend so much time in front of our screen for work and for socializing and then for entertainment. And then when we finally get away from our screens, we end up in a hotel room with Borat's daughter, and we have to lie down to tuck in our shirt. It never ends.


GROSZ: The idea that you would be lying down on a bed as, like, a young woman was, like, standing over you, and the thing you thought people would buy is, like, I have to tuck my shirt in...


GROSZ: ...Is pretty ludicrous. It's like, hold on - let me tie my shoes.

HIGGINS: I wasn't sure, though, because, like, you know when sometimes when your back is out, you do need to lie down to get dressed? So I'm willing to give Rudy the benefit of the doubt.

GROSZ: Oh, interesting.

CORDERO: When I put on a jacket every morning, I still lay it on the floor and then tumble into it.

SAGAL: Oh, yes.


CORDERO: So I'm assuming that that's what he's doing, but with a...

SAGAL: With a shirt...

CORDERO: ...Shirt...

SAGAL: Yeah.

CORDERO: ...On a bed.

SAGAL: But let me ask you - guys, we've all been doing Zoom. We're doing this show on Zoom right now. So have any of you had a near miss in terms of doing anything that you didn't want to be seen being seen?

GROSZ: Everything that I've been caught doing, I wanted to get caught doing.



GROSZ: That's not my thing. I like getting caught. I'm a bad boy, so I want to get caught.


GROSZ: And I deserve to be punished.

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

KURTIS: Can't get any more perfect than that. Vanessa, congratulations.

SANDERS: Thank you so much.

SAGAL: Thank you, Vanessa. Take care.

SANDERS: Bye-bye.


GWEN VERDON: (Singing) They'd never believe it if my friends could see me now. Hi, girls, it's... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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