Carl The Great And Powerful

Jan 3, 2015
Originally published on January 3, 2015 10:57 am
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

We're going to end this review of the best of 2014 with a tribute to the best guy we know. Almost exactly 17 years ago, NPR listeners heard a very familiar voice saying an unfamiliar thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

CARL KASELL, BYLINE: From outside the newsroom - from way outside the newsroom, it's WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME. I'm Carl Kasell.

SAGAL: Carl Kasell was the heart of this show; not to mention it's spleen, liver and hypothalamus. He bared his all, honest and raw.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KASELL: I live alone with my cat called Pebbles. I've never been married and never been kissed. Oh, shame.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And sometimes his anger.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KASELL: Man up and say I'm fat. Say it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SAGAL: Sometimes his feminine side.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KASELL: It's also been two years since I've even celebrated by birthday, and I probably did take my newfound freedom a little too far. Anyway, thank God for Victoria's Secret's new underwear line.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And of course his musical stylings.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KASELL: (Singing) You give me fever when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight. Fever through the daytime. I get a fever all through the night. You give me fever.

ROY BLOUNT JR.: We foully found calls of Carl's Achilles' heel.

(LAUGHTER)

KASELL: I beg your pardon.

BLOUNT: I thought Carl could do anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, I would ask for redo of that, but it would be too cruel.

(LAUGHTER)

LAUREN: Please don't 'cause I'm not going to be able to finish the show.

SAGAL: That, of course, was Karl's rendition of a song that will be forever associated with a performer - another performer.

BLOUNT: Not anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: That performer died of that just last week at the age of 81. Who was it?

LAUREN: Peggy Lee.

SAGAL: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Carl, how did Lauren do on our quiz?

KASELL: Despite some wisecracks from some members of the panel, Peter, Lauren did very well. She got three correct answers so I'll be doing the message on her answering machine.

SAGAL: Excellent.

BLOUNT: Will you sing it? Sing it.

LAUREN: I promise not to ask you to sing.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I think that Carl can start a whole new, like, genre of, like, outsider singing. You know what I mean? You know.

BLOUNT: Hard listening.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEVER")

PEGGY LEE: (Singing) Never knew how much I loved you. Never know how much I cared. When you put your arms around me, I get a fever that's so hard to bear. You give me fever when you kiss me; fever when you hold me tight. Fever in the morning, fever all through the night.

SAGAL: But all wonderful things have to come to an end. So we began our show in March 8 of 2014 with this unusual quote from Carl.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KASELL: So long suckers.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: That's right, after 60 years of broadcasting, including more than 30 years at NPR, including of course being this show's official judge and scorekeeper from the very first episode, Carl has decided to lay down the microphone and become our scorekeeper emeritus. He will record voicemail greetings for all our winners, he'll hang around the office, and he'll make sure we don't lower our standards.

KASELL: As if that were even possible.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And Carl began his grand farewell tour. But even his impending retirement did not put a dent in his professionalism.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

KASELL: Dis winter, we're in for a dip freece, and dogs won't go out to the treece. Dey hates indoor sports, and walks are kept short. Dat's why our poor dogs are...

SEAN CARY: Oh God. In shorts?

SAGAL: No. I'm...

(LAUGHTER)

CARY: I know, me too. I'm sorry.

SAGAL: I'm speechless because that, ladies and gentlemen, was a Chicago accent and...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: One more time, and listen for the rhyming words.

KASELL: Dis winter, we're in a dip freece, and dogs won't go out to the treece. Dey hates indoor sports, and walks are kept short. Dat's why our poor dogs are...

(LAUGHTER)

CARY: Oh, my gosh.

SAGAL: Yeah.

CARY: I can't even - I don't even know what he said.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's a thick Chicago accent. It's a little difficult. The answer is obese. Our dogs won't go out to da trees.

CARY: Yes. Yes.

SAGAL: According to Chicago vets, the polar vortex not only forced us to sit on the couch and watch every episode of "Cake Boss," it made our dogs fat, too. We didn't want to go outside. They didn't get to go outside and run around with the dogs. Fine we all need to start losing the weight. But the real problem is all the presents the dog left under the bed are starting to thaw out.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And then in May of 2014 at a theater in Washington, D.C., packed with friends and family and friends, Carl performed his last show with WAIT WAIT. Here's how it began.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SAGAL: But first, as many of you know, this is Carl Kasell's last show with us before becoming our scorekeeper emeritus.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: We thought about doing an hour-long special of nothing but tributes to Carl. And we could do that, believe me. But we wanted to send Carl out the way he wants - by simply doing a good radio show.

KASELL: Why start now, Peter?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You'll still be able to win Carl's voice on your voicemail.

And so we made our usual jokes and heard Carl do his imitation, but in a twist, we played some voices left on Carl's answering machine. Let's hear a couple.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

STEPHEN COLBERT: Congratulations, Carl. Stephen Colbert here. Just saying what everyone else is thinking. All of us who loved you on NPR, all of us who listen for your voice every week on WAIT, WAIT are so, so sad, sad...

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: ...That you're going to go, go.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Best of luck. Send us some limericks, or something. Very few things rhyme with Carl, by the way.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: I tried. The rhyming dictionary goes Carl, gnarl and snarl.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: And then it goes into bull [bleep] like curl and seed pearl. You were dealt a rough hand when it came to a first name, I've got to say, when it comes to rhyming. How ironic. Is that what irony means?

TOM HANKS: This is Tom Hanks with a new Complete The Limerick game. Limericks are often a hassle. The punch lines can be rather crass-le.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: We'll all miss the voice, but we have no choice but bid adieu to old Carl - hmm.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: I think it might be Blasell?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Between all the plaudits and tributes, we actually did manage to find a moment to let Carl do what he does best.

CORINNE: Hi, Peter. This is Corinne (ph) from Lacrosse, Wis.

SAGAL: Hey, Lacrosse. I've been to Lacrosse. Home of the world's largest six-pack.

CORINNE: Yeah.

SAGAL: Is it still there? Yeah.

CORINNE: Is Carl there?

SAGAL: Well, hold on, let me check.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Oh, yes. Carl's right here.

KASELL: Right here.

CORINNE: I adore you, Carl Kasell.

(APPLAUSE)

KASELL: I love you.

(LAUGHTER)

CORINNE: Now, I'm not breathing.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Corinne, welcome to the show. Carl Kasell, the man himself, is going to read you three news-related limericks with the last word or phrase missing from each. If you can fill in that last word or phrase correctly in two of the limericks, you'll be a big winner. Here is your first limerick.

KASELL: Feeding rye grains to pigs isn't risky. At worse, they'll feel giddy and frisky. Our final intent is porcine ferment, and pig meat that's flavored like...

CORINNE: Whiskey?

SAGAL: Whiskey, yes.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Great news for alcoholics on the Atkins diet. Templeton Wine Distillery, in Iowa, is attempting to raise the world's first whiskey flavored pigs. This sounds crazy, but it was actually the pigs' idea.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No, seriously, another shot will make me taste great.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Here is your next limerick.

KASELL: At the apex, I live life most fully, made a wedgy machine with a pulley. Hand out nuggies and swirlies, call names worse than girly. It's wonderful being a...

CORINNE: A bully.

SAGAL: A bully, yes.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: A new study from the National Academy of Sciences reveals that being a bully during childhood correlates to a lifetime of happiness, success and vibrant health.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's true. All those atomic wedgies do wonders for upper-arm strength, and stealing lunches mean bullies get all their food groups.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: How did they conduct such a study?

(LAUGHTER)

MO ROCCA: I think they were bullied into those results.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: No. But I mean, how do you, how do you - that's ridiculous.

SAGAL: They did a longitudinal study. You follow people over their lives; and people who exhibited certain kinds of behavior tend, they correlate, to having healthier, happier, longer lives.

POUNDSTONE: Wait a minute. Who - all right, so how did they find the bullies, to begin with?

SAGAL: I believe they probably quizzed them on their behavior.

POUNDSTONE: Uh-huh. So like, when you get sent to the office in elementary school, you have to go talk to the people doing the study?

SAGAL: They're hanging out there. They've been waiting for you.

POUNDSTONE: You know, we're going to call your parents, and these people are going to follow you for the rest of your life.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. Here is your last limerick.

KASELL: There ought to be men's fashion courts to handle revealing reports. Our inseam now cinches to less than 5 inches. That's too much thigh shown by men's...

CORINNE: Shorts.

SAGAL: Shorts, yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: The Wall Street Journal, the daily diary of American pants...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Broke the story this week that men's shorts are getting shorter.

ROCCA: It's very interesting. And this isn't funny, but it's true. The study shows that if you have, like, a really bad midsection - like a belly- you should wear shorter shorts to basically distract from that.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Like, if your belly's just hanging out all over, you should wear, like, tiny, little, short shorts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: No. No, you shouldn't.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Carl, how did Corinne do on our quiz?

KASELL: Corinne, you had three correct answers, so I'll be doing the message on your voicemail or home answering machine.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well done.

ROBERTS: All right.

CORINNE: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Let's hear a couple more messages that got left on Carl's voicemail. First up is Katie Couric.

KATIE COURIC: Wait, wait, don't tell me - Carl Kasell is retiring? Carl, just think - if you hadn't hired me as your intern at WAVA All News Radio after my first year at the University of Virginia, I don't think I'd be standing here in this studio. Thank you for giving a then-college student with big dreams her start.

And thank you for being such a good person. I only hope by the time I retire, I'll be able to say I conducted my professional life with as much kindness, grace, humor and integrity as you have. Thank you again for everything. Good luck, Carl.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: And finally, a local call from the Washington, D.C. area.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hi, everybody. This is Barack from Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Carl, for 30 years on Morning Edition, yours was the voice America woke up to. You brought us the news of everything from presidential elections to the fall of the Berlin Wall. We trusted you to tell us what happened, and why it mattered. And then for some reason, you joined a show where Peter Sagal makes you read goofy limericks and imitate everybody from Britney Spears to Barack Obama.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: It turns out they all sound like Carl Kasell.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Anyway, we're glad you did. Over the years, WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME! has become an institution in my hometown of Chicago and across the country. And Carl, you've been its heart and soul. I will never forget my time on the show. A lot of people didn't know my name, but you guys were already making fun of it.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Carl, congratulations on an incredible career and a well-deserved retirement. We will miss you, but it's good to know you won't be giving up everything. Who knows, maybe in a few years, you'll get a call from another contestant - Barack, from Chicago. And if I win, I'm glad you will still record my voicemail.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That does it for our year in review. Let's do everything we can to make sure 2015 is even stupider.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Thanks to Bill Kurtis, to all our panelists, our listener contestants and of course our scorekeeper emeritus, Mr. Carl Kasell. I'm Peter Sagal. We'll see you next week with a brand-new show.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.