Wait, wait...I know this! *Wrap It Up goes underground at the Chase Auditorium on May 26th, 2006*

On a gorgeous pre-summer evening in the loop, I sat in near darkness watching 'Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!' host Peter Sagal warm up the studio audience with sharp, witty patter for about 10 minutes before the official taping of the show starts. They hang on his every word. This taping of the ‘oddly informative news quiz' happens most Thursdays at the Chase Auditorium on Dearborn Street downtown. Once they get the ok and the show actually starts, Sagal and scorekeeper Carl Kasell slide into practiced, professional mode and the quips fly fast and furious -- it's nuts! And much funnier live, for real. Soccer expert Steven Cohen's phone call alone kept me giggling for days. It was the nuance, you see...well, HEAR actually.

The show is a fast-paced feast of information about today's wackiest news turned on its ear by Sagal, Kasell and whichever of the rotating panelists are there to keep things lively. This show featured writer/performer Adam Felber, P.J. O'Rourke from The Weekly Standard, and Roxanne Roberts, columnist for The Washington Post. The call in ‘Not My Job' guest was soccer expert Steven Cohen. I know it's weird -- like why would you go watch a radio show? But I loved it. I guess there's not much to DESCRIBE- nothing really happened? But there's this odd togetherness about being in the audience. Everyone ‘gets' it. Watching them go at it is like listening to Dennis Miller back in the day or -- ever hear of Dick Cavett? You feel smart by association.

I heard people on the line describing themselves as ‘geeks' and ‘nerds' as they waited to enter the auditorium, and I guess that's what we all were. Everything happens really quickly and it's all topical news items that have been heard on NPR during the week? So you really have to listen and be on your mental toes to keep up. There's also that language --

Words that you saw on a vocabulary list sometime in sixth grade but never got to hear (and were laughed at for using) in public. There's something about being intelligent that can make people outsiders. It was fun to be inside; in on the joke and laughing together. We even sang ‘Happy Birthday' to Adam Felber's mom, who happens to be a romance novelist. By the time you leave, you've laughed really hard, learned a lot, and it's so much fun you just want to come right back the next week. At least I did -- You can listen to the show every week on WBEZ-FM 91.5 Saturdays at 10am and Sundays at 9pm. You can also go to www.npr.org/waitwait to listen to show archives, take the quiz, view faq's, or contact them. I emailed them and they got back to me right away- in fact? Producer Emily Ecton was there to greet me on May 25th as I wandered around in a daze since I'd never been there before. It's only $20.00 for a ticket and there are also ‘Wait, Wait -- ' souvenirs for sale on the premises.The mugs were lovely.

The Chase Auditorium is located at 10 S. Dearborn Street in the heart of the loop. This place is so accessible, it's insane- red line, blue line, 56 bus -- something can get you there. The show is partially funded by Chicago Public Radio listeners, I think... which pinpoints how really important it is to give money when they ask for it. This is like finding a diamond in the street, go see it before it isn't around anymore.

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