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Not My Job: Jordan Peele Gets Quizzed On The Teletubbies

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm the man whose inner life will always be hidden, no matter how sincere I seem. I am inscruta-Bill (ph), Bill Kurtis.

(LAUGHTER)

KURTIS: And here's your host, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill. Thanks, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thank you so much for being with us. All right. It has been a long year filled with scandal, surprises, more scandals and various lunacies. And this year has only been six weeks long.

KURTIS: The good news is, at this rate, we get to have eight birthdays every year.

SAGAL: And after all that, we need a break. Maybe you do, too. So why not relax with some of our favorite interviews from this past actual year? One of the most acclaimed movies of 2017 was "Get Out," written and directed by Jordan Peele. It broke box office records and earned four Oscar nominations.

KURTIS: Let's listen to our interview with Jordan Peele, recorded when "Get Out" had just hit theaters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SAGAL: Basically in this movie - let's just say it takes a dark view of well-meaning white people. And speaking for all of us at NPR, what have we ever done to you?

(LAUGHTER)

JORDAN PEELE: Thank you. Thank you. Yes, it is basically the horror version of "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner."

SAGAL: Right.

PEELE: We - (laughter) and, you know, another way you can think of it, it's like "The Stepford Wives" meets "The Help."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Ooh, that's very creepy.

PEELE: Yeah.

SAGAL: And where did you come up with this? Again, I don't want to give the movie away, but basically, a lot of people - like, black people will watch this movie and go, oh, my God. I knew that's what they were really thinking. And white people will watch this movie, as the white people try to ingratiate themselves in the black - with the black people and say, oh, God, do I say those things? Oh, God.

PEELE: And the answer is, yes. Yes, you do.

SAGAL: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Now that you've made a successful indie, they're going to give you the next Marvel Comics movie, so that's pretty awesome.

PEELE: (Laughter) That's pretty much how the industry works.

SAGAL: I know.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Can I ask a question?

SAGAL: Sure.

PEELE: Yes?

ROBERTS: So I'm very familiar with your comedy and a big fan, but horror movies scare me so much that I don't go to them as a general rule. So tell me how you made that switch from the mentality of being funny all the time to being super scary. Like, I mean, like, I want to see this movie, but I'm kind of afraid to see this movie. Does that make sense?

PEELE: Totally. And, you know, I hear this all the time. You know, people are afraid of horror because they're afraid of horror. I think I - I think...

SAGAL: You know, I don't know if you knew this, but it's called horror.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: When it's done right, it is horrifying.

SAGAL: Yes.

PEELE: And, yeah, I - this movie, the feedback that I've gotten from people who've seen it has been overwhelmingly, I usually don't like horror movies. I can't take them, but this one I was OK with.

FAITH SALIE: That's because they'd be racist if they said they weren't OK with it, Jordan.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: I don't...

SAGAL: I guess you don't understand white people after all.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: That's right.

SALIE: Now, Jordan, your mother is white. So did she see the movie and say, oh, my God, did I do this to you?

PEELE: (Laughter) Yeah. I mean, she saw it - you know, my mother is white. My wife is white. I'm very lucky that they both have amazing senses of humor.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah. Have you seen some of your sketches on "Key And Peele"? Yes, you are, Sir.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: (Laughter) But yeah, they - my mother loves it. She's my biggest fan. And, you know, she's woke.

SAGAL: Oh, yeah. I would certainly hope so.

Hey, let's talk about "Key and Peele" a little. We had Keegan on the show. We talked to him about being the anger translator and talking to President Obama. But you met President Obama, too. And you, of course, did, in my opinion, the finest imitation of President Obama. Did he have a comment on it?

PEELE: Yes. You know, he sort of - (imitating President Obama) you know, I do a pretty good me, too.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: So that was pretty brilliant.

SAGAL: Is there a trick, a secret to doing a good Obama impersonation? Because other people had trouble.

PEELE: (Imitating President Obama) Well, you know, it's a little - it's a little bit of a three-pronged attack here. First of all, you know, the sound has to come from your stomach. It's got to be low.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: (Imitating President Obama) Then you've got to purse your lips a little bit.

SAGAL: Yeah.

PEELE: (Imitating President Obama) All right? You've got to clip those lips off real clean and precisely. And then you've got to - you've got to sort of - you have to have a certain sense of reason and patience that you sort of can - uh (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: That's the thing. You got the thing that no one else got, which is that even when he's not speaking, he's always making a noise.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's like if he stops making some sort of noise, other - somebody else will start talking, so he has to go uh. That's so perceptive. Yep. Yep.

PEELE: If you look closely, he never actually inhales...

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: ...Outward.

SAGAL: Well, Jordan Peele, it is so great to talk to you. We have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Eh-oh, eh-oh.

SAGAL: This, of course, is how the Teletubbies say hello.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This month - I'm sure you know this - they're celebrating it all over the world, the 20th anniversary of the debut of "The Teletubbies." That's, of course, the somewhat surreal show for very young children. In fact, it's now 20 years old, meaning that the baby - if you've seen the show - whose face appears on the sun is now old enough to drink.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Answer 2 out of 3 questions about "The Teletubbies," win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Jordan Peele playing for?

KURTIS: Samantha Slater of San Francisco, Calif.

SAGAL: All right.

MO ROCCA: Wait - can I ask, how do Teletubbies not relate to him? Like, usually the subject is, like, some, like...

SALIE: Like a near-miss.

SAGAL: Sometimes we do that, and sometimes we don't.

ROCCA: Like - OK. Just asking.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's random. It - we - Mo, look, it's the 20th anniversary of "The Teletubbies."

ROCCA: But, like, what if he's a huge fan of "The Teletubbies"?

SAGAL: Are you a huge fan of "The Teletubbies," Jordan?

PEELE: Me - I am the number - world's No. 1 one fan of "The Teletubbies."

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: I was celebrating the anniversary of my own accord. I can't believe that this is what the show's about.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: What a lucky break for you, Jordan.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well, here is your first question about "The Teletubbies." Teletubbies are not just for amusing toddlers while you do other things. People have also suggested that watching these fuzzy strange creatures play can do what - A, act as a workable substitute for marijuana; B, soothe the anger and murderous paranoia of Kim Jong Un or C, defeat racists by confusing them with even more skin colors?

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: Mm-hm. Mm-Hm. Mm-hm. Mm-hm (ph). Well, I'm going to say B. I think that the Teletubbies - I believe they gave birth to Kim Jong Un, right?

SAGAL: They probably did.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Wait, I'm sorry. You're supposed to try to win. OK.

SAGAL: No, he's right.

ROCCA: Is it true?

SALIE: What?

KURTIS: Oh, yeah.

SALIE: You're kidding.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: He said - he said he's their No. 1 fan. In 2014, a British member of Parliament suggested that "The Teletubbies" be beamed into North Korea to try to mollify that nation's murderous leader. That was very good. He is a fan.

ROCCA: Wow.

PEELE: You know...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I've got to tell you, Mo right now is as red as Laa-Laa, if you know what I mean.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Tinky Winky.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Next question. "The Teletubbies'" Laa-Laa, Tinky Winky and Po have gotten their share of bad press. Which of these was a real headline in the New York Post back in 2001? A, "Po-nographic: Teletubbies Lesbian Shocker..."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...B, "Headless Laa-Laa In Topless Bar: Partially Costumed Actor Out On The Town" or C, "Tinky Winky Hanky-Panky: Who Knew He Had Those Parts?"

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: Oh, that's great. Hey, you know, I'm going to say "Tinky Winky Hanky-Panky" because it's the only option I can remember.

SAGAL: There you are. I think that's very smart. But it was "Po-nographic." That was the headline. The story was simply about an actress who had occasionally portrayed Po getting a role as a lesbian in a serious film.

ROCCA: Wow.

SAGAL: And the New York Post thought that was exciting.

All right, fans have made a number of tributes to "The Teletubbies," as in which of these - A, a videogame called "Teletubbies Kill" where you fight off bouncing, attacking Teletubbies with a chainsaw; B, a workout started by a fan and personal trainer called "Tele-Not-Tubby Anymore"...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Or C, a massive art installation called Mt. Tubbmore (ph) with the faces of each of them carved into 14 tons of jello?

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: Well, I'll tell you "Teletubbies Kill" - option A - is the game that I want to play right now.

SAGAL: Yeah.

PEELE: So I'm going to go with that one.

SAGAL: And there you go.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: You can play it because it exists. That's the real one.

PEELE: All right.

SALIE: Nice.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Bill, how did Jordan Peele do on our quiz?

KURTIS: He got 2 out of 3, and that's a win in our book, Jordan. Congratulations.

SAGAL: That's fabulous. You've succeeded in television, comedy, filmmaking and now this. It's the trifecta.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Jordan Peele's new film is "Get Out." It is the number one movie in America. Go see it. Jordan Peele, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: What a pleasure to talk to you. Take care.

PEELE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KURTIS: Every week we take more questions and answers than we have time to broadcast. So now some questions for our panelists that have never been heard before.

SAGAL: Tom, we all know that Hollywood these days just keeps recycling its old ideas. Well, sure enough, this week, the star of what 14-year-old movie blockbuster confirmed that the sequel is going to happen?

TOM BODETT: Oh God. I know this, but it's - it's slipped my calcifying brain. What - give me a hint.

SAGAL: Well, we all thought this franchise was dead, but it's getting resurrected.

BODETT: Well, it's not that Jesus guy, right?

SAGAL: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BODETT: There's - oh, there's a...

SAGAL: It was a huge - actually one of the top-grossing films of all time. It was made by Mel Gibson. It was called...

BODETT: "The Passion Of Christ" (ph).

SAGAL: That's the one. "The Passion Of The Christ" is getting a sequel.

(APPLAUSE)

HELEN HONG: What?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Oh, my gosh.

HONG: Are you serious?

SAGAL: Well...

BODETT: My Catholic mother is spinning in her grave.

HONG: Wait - but didn't he die in the first one?

SAGAL: Well, that's a funny thing.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: I mean...

BODETT: No, that's the thing. No.

HONG: Spoiler alert.

SAGAL: Spoiler alert, Helen. Spoiler alert.

HONG: Jesus dies.

BODETT: No. But it's like "Terminator." They come back.

SAGAL: Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the first film - and by the way, it is one of the highest-grossing films of all time. It's very popular with Christians.

POUNDSTONE: Jim Caviezel?

SAGAL: Jim Caviezel is his name - actor - and he played Jesus, and he confirmed to USA Today that he has signed on for the sequel, which we can only assume will be called, Passion of the Christ 2, Literally Judgment Day.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HERE YOU COME AGAIN")

DOLLY PARTON: (Singing) Here you come again. Just when I've begun to get myself together, you waltz right in the door just like you've done before and wrap my heart around your little finger.

SAGAL: When we come back, two more Oscar-nominated filmmakers, proving that WAIT WAIT is an important weigh station on the road to stardom. We'll be back with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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