No chopped liver

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  November 14, 2008

One mystery was left unsolved: the intricacies of the scoring system. When they reached the Lightning Round, Carl announced that “Amy has four points, followed by Charlie with two and Mo with one.” Everyone affected great surprise that Amy was leading, but the reason seemed pretty obvious: she’d gotten more questions to answer. (She’d also received a point for being picked by Heather in Long Beach, the successful “Bluff the Listener” caller.) On the show as it aired, she answered two questions (both correctly), Charlie answered one (also correctly), and Mo didn’t answer any, since he wasn’t asked any. It still didn’t compute — unless everyone gets a point just for showing up. But how, at the taping, does Carl know which questions are going to be cut? And why, after Charlie had answered five Lightning Round questions to take the lead with 12 points, did Carl tell us that Amy, already with her four points, needed to answer “five questions to tie, and six to win”? I figured they’d correct that later, but no. What am I missing?

The hugely popular “Not My Job” guest was House Representative Barney Frank, who sat in the big leather armchair center stage and, asked by Peter what industry the Democrats would nationalize first, shot right back, “The Alaskan Tourist Board.” His category was Bill O’Reilly (Peter: “You looked at him as if he were crazy.” Representative Frank: “What do you mean, ‘As if’?”), and he got two out of three right, good enough to win you-know-what for the lucky listener he was playing for. It didn’t hurt that he’d read the answer to the third question in the New York TimesSunday Magazine. His remark that his boyfriend had accompanied him to the show drew loud applause; I could see them whispering affectionately in front of me after he’d left the stage.

What else? Mo uses his hands a lot. Amy preened when, after a commercial break and Carl’s reintroduction of the panelists, she was greeted by wolf whistles, and she did quite a double take when her joke answer about what women’s underwear can now be equipped with — a GPS system — turned out to be right. After her landslide victory (she got six Lightning Round questions right for a total of 16 points), the house lights came up and Peter asked for questions. Someone asked, “Why isn’t Paula [Poundstone] here?” Amy spoofed a pout and Peter came to her rescue: “Let me introduce, if I may,” pointing to the panel, “Chopped Liver, Chopped Liver, and Chopped Liver.” Carl was asked how he does the voice messages; he claimed, “I used to go to people’s houses and spend a week or so,” but now he stays home and mails out the messages on discs. It was suggested that he hadn’t engaged much in the taping’s witty thrust-and-riposte; he smiled and answered, “You’ll notice that when I do say something, it stands out.”

Peter ended the evening by telling us, “It’s cooler to be from Boston than anyplace in the world,” after which many audience members rushed the stage to convey greetings. I forget what the panelists’ predictions were, but here’s mine: after checking the evening’s box-office receipts, Citi Performing Arts Center CEO Josiah Spaulding will move heaven and earth to get Wait Wait. . . and the rest of the NPR line-up to make their taping home at the Wang.

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