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Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me

If you listen to a lot of news on National Public Radio, then you know that NPR has a certain reputation for earnestness. While it may not be strictly true anymore—have you heard the new host of All Things Considered Sunday, Andrea “Giggles” Seabrook?—this reputation preceeds any program they offer.

Except one.

This show is the hilarious weekly news quiz (heard Saturday mornings at 11 AM on WAMC) Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me, which will be taping this week’s show tonight (Thursday) at Proctors in Schenectady. Recently, this writer had a chance to talk with host Peter Sagal (pictured here, in a sidecar next to Carl Kasell in the driver’s seat) by phone.

Visiting Schenectady isn’t part of a tour: “We don’t do tours.” What they do, he says, is take the show away from its Chicago home base once a month or so. “It’s too bad, though,” he says, because “we could have really, really cool black tour shirts.”

Sagal is just as quick with the wisecracks off-air as on.

Listening to the show on the radio, I explain that I imagine it being presented on an elaborate Match Game ’74-style set. Sagal reacts, chuckling, “And I’ve got that long, strange, wand-like microphone that I point at everybody?”

Of course.

Alas, this is not the case. “We really don’t have much of a set,” he explains. “We’ve some concessions to the fact that some people can see us—i.e., I wear a suit now”—but the set is simple.

One of the most popular parts of the show is the “not my job” segment featuring off-the-wall questions posed, by phone, to various famous and infamous celebrities, from Stephen King to Jane Curtin. (Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell proved to have an amazing knowledge of Madonna movies, for example.) I ask him how they get people like ex-Saturday Night Live actress Curtin, who avoided doing interviews with anyone for decades, to come on the show.

“We do occasionally get people who don’t do other media, or don’t do much,” he says. “The best example of this was Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney who had prosecuted Scooter Libby. He simply wouldn’t talk to anybody.”

But he did appear, in front of thousands of people in a Chicago park. Fitzgerald had a personal incentive, Sagal says: “We have heard through the grapevine that his fiancée is a big fan of the show.”

Sagal didn’t say which of the three regular panelists will visit Schenectady with the show, but it’s worth the wait.

Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me will be presented tonight (Thursday, May 8) at 8 PM at Proctors Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $20 to $33. There will be a TheatreTalk discussion for ticketholders at 6:30 PM. For more info, call 346-6204.

—Shawn Stone

Tulip Fest

The tulip beds in Washington Park are all abloom, dogs are splashing in the Moses fountain, it’s time for picnics and Frisbee, and of course, Tulip Fest. We in Albany like to kick spring off in style, with a weekend full of music, food, art, and festivities. And since this year marks the 60th anniversary of Albany’s favorite springtime jamboree, it’s promising to be even more festive than usual.

For those of you who are wondering what incredible spectacle could possibly make this year’s Tulip Fest more, well, spectacular than the 59 Tulip Fests that came before, we give you Night Fire. This year, dear readers, Tulip Fest makes its mark with a dramatic art installation: a 15-foot-tall steel tulip, afloat on the lake. On fire.

It’s gonna be hard to beat that. But we all know how much fun Tulip Fest is, so have faith. Saturday and Sunday, as always, are jam-packed with fun. With more than 100 artists and artisans, offering everything from hot sauce and handbags to jewelry and bonsai, you’re bound to find a treasure (all you procrastinators can pick up something for Mother’s Day).

This year’s eclectic music lineup is 24 acts strong, and has something for everyone. Highlights include horn-powered rockers the Rustic Overtones, New Orleans-based trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, singer-songwriter Vonda Shepard, Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Pheobe Snow, and the Spin Doctors, who will rock us all back to 1991.

And, as always, there will be the annual street scrubbing, the coronation of a new Tulip Queen, and the KidZone, featuring kid-friendly music, face painting, caricaturists, local sports heroes, and arts and crafts activities.

Tulip Fest kicks off in Washington Park (Albany) at 11 AM on Friday (May 9) and runs all weekend. Admission is free—just wander on over. For a full schedule of events, visit

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