It has been six years since Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! has taped a show at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon, and it has been almost four years since I have been to a taping (the 1000th show taping in Salt Lake City, Utah). I had planned a visit to Chicago for my 40th birthday celebration in 2020, but something happened globally months before that scuppered the plan.

To say that I was excited when I heard that Wait Wait was coming back to Portland would be an understatement.

Photo of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on one side of the marquee at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

The tickets I got, with huge thanks to the crew at Wait Wait, were for seats a dozen rows back and right in the middle of the lower section. The view of the stage was great and put me in the middle of the euphoric audience when they announced that Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard would be the Not My Job guest.

Unfortunately, it was tough to hear anyone on stage when the audience was hooting and hollering at full tilt. It was unclear whether the sound system was not designed to overcome the audience's loudness or if it had to be capped to not interfere with the show's recording. Returning to the show's broadcast version, the microphones' audio levels were clipped more than usual.

Photo of the stage with podiums and names for Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis and a table for the panelists, Helen Hong, Paula Poundstone and Luke Burbank

As with any tapings I have been to in the past few years, I had my steno notebook and a pen to take notes that I could use to reconcile with the broadcasted version. Not being able to hear Peter Sagal, Bill Kurtis, or the panel (Helen Hong, Paula Poundstone, and Luke Burbank) at times made it challenging to capture Bill's introduction or some of the conversation between Peter, Damian, and the panel.

Damian Lillard may have captured the audience during the Not My Job segment, but Paula Poundstone (her first time being on a Wait Wait panel in Portland) was the hit with the audience. Many of Paula's tangents did not make it into the broadcast version. There were a lot of other things that did not make it into the broadcast version, including:

  • The audience voiced their disapproval when the Bluff the Listener contestant initially chose Luke's story. The contestant switched to Paula's bluff and, with additional reactions from the audience, selected Helen's story.
  • During the Not My Job segment, Paula interjected more references to the game of horse.
  • When Damian was trying to guess the correct answer to each of the Not My Job questions, the audience yelled out the answers to assist Damian. Those were essentially absent from the broadcast version.

Photo of a page from a steno book with written notes taken at the Wait Wait taping

Another first for a Wait Wait show in Portland was how the Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank round concluded: all three panelists finished in a three-way tie with 12 points each. It was the first time Helen Hong had finished in a three-way tie, while it was Paula's fourth time and Luke's third time in a three-way tie. By the way, I have a report with shows where the panelists finish the game in a three-way tie.

After recording the outro and Panelist Predictions, Paula had to leave to get on a flight for her next show. With most shows I have been to since 2011, I usually get a shout-out from Peter and have the spotlight on me for my 15 seconds of fame. With slightly mixed emotions, that didn't happen, but I did get to have a quick chat with Peter, Colin Miller, Lorna White, and Robert Neuhaus before heading out. Unfortunately, I didn't get to say hello to Helen or Luke (though I'm sure Luke sees me more than enough at Live Wire tapings).

At the night's end, I had a blast, and it felt so good to be at a Wait Wait taping again. I hope to visit Chicago for a taping at their new home, the Studebaker Theatre.