Like wading through all the DVD extras of your favorite show, seeing the live version of NPR's popular news quiz Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me gives an avid fan some goodies you don't normally get. But it also reminds you of the importance of an editor.
With each question, the panel of humorists Roy Blount Jr., Adam Felber and commentator Faith Salie are given four or five chances to bounce around the oddball news item of the week, and we in the live audience at the sold-out Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa on Thursday knew that only one or two would make the final broadcast that will air this weekend on NPR stations nationwide.
Host Peter Sagal was greeted warmly and returned the love with thanks to Florida.
"For people who do what we do, making fun of the odd things in the news," Sagal said at the start of the show, "coming to Florida is like a pilgrimage to Mecca." He reminded the audience that this was the state "whose legislature had to outlaw truck nuts."
But they didn't need much help from Florida in a week of news that included Newt Gingrich taking money to trash Freddie Mac or Congress declaring pizza sauce in school lunches a vegetable.
Still, they couldn't resist. Celebrity caller comic Marc Maron — a last-minute replacement for the promised Bill Cosby — was given a game in which he had to pick out the true weird Florida news story that happened just this month (and we are only in mid-month!). Even better was the help the audience gave him.
Of course fans knew that the true headline was not transvestites riding a manatee but the one about the zombie attacking a guard in a nudist resort scuffle in Pasco County on Halloween. "I think the audience wants you to use your BRAINS," Salie advised.
Maron didn't want to let go of the transvestite image. "I want that to be true."
Ah, stick around awhile. It will be if you stay in Florida long enough, he was told.