The last time Peter Sagal brought Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! to Memphis, he hung out with a filthy-mouthed, doobie-smoking bluesman of some renown on Beale Street and then partied at Raiford's Hollywood Disco.
He's hoping for "similarly colorful" experiences when he brings his public radio news quiz to the Orpheum on Thursday, December 19th.
Sagal says Memphis has a special place in the history of Wait Wait that goes back to the Public Radio Program Directors Association Conference held here in 1999 when the show was on very few stations.
Public radio has no overarching network, and as a way to sell the show to individual program directors, Sagal brought a quiz panel to Memphis and did a live mini-show. Up to that point, Wait Wait was strictly a studio show, not performed before an audience as it is today.
"We had it up on the roof of the Peabody hotel, and I remember standing up there admiring the duck cages," Sagal says. "I remember we all put on white dinner jackets because it was what we thought was a good Mississippi Delta way of dressing for dinner."
The mini-show worked, Sagal says, and Wait Wait is now carried on dozens of public radio stations across the country. But he credits the live format they first tried in Memphis for the huge following the show has now.
"Comedy shows tend to be better and are better when there are people there to laugh at them," Sagal says. "Also, you tend to do a better job of preparing amusing material if you know people are there in front of you."
The Memphis crowd can expect the same quick-paced, quick-witted Wait Wait heard at 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays on WKNO but also some "extra stuff for the local audience," Sagal says.
Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! at the Orpheum Thursday, December 19th, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $34.90-$131.40.