Bluff The Listener
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Our panelists tell three stories about a Jeopardy! champion starting a new career, only one of which is true.
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Mike Birbiglia, Faith Salie, and Adam Felber. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl. Thanks so much. Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
JASON FERRIS: Hi my name is Jason from Sacramento, California.
SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Sacramento?
FERRIS: Well, we just got a lot of rain. Otherwise it was really dry.
SAGAL: Right, but you got some rain, right, so you're all set?
FERRIS: Oh, definitely.
SAGAL: Would you like some snow? We have some.
FERRIS: Oh, we would love your snow, as much as you can ship us.
SAGAL: We'll ship it out. Jason, it's great to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Jason's topic?
KASELL: What is Kasell?
SAGAL: "Jeopardy!," the show featuring smart people watched mostly by unemployed people has created a few super-champions who've become famous for winning. This week we read about a "Jeopardy!" champ embarking on a surprising new career. Guess that true story, you will win Carl Kasell's voice on your home-answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?
SAGAL: First, let's hear from Adam Felber.
ADAM FELBER: Watson, the IBM supercomputer who took all comers back in 2011, is now a proprietor running one of these mobile businesses. If you answered what is a food truck, you are correct. Debuting in Las Vegas last week and now on his way to the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, the former champion has found himself slinging hash for cash.
Actually, Watson hasn't fallen on hard times. He's part of a novel effort by New York's Institute of Culinary Education, who persuaded IBM to help them discover new, innovative recipes. When asked, Watson will think of unique combinations of ingredients, like for instance Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche or Cuban-style lobster bouillabaisse with squash. It's all coming right up. And the secret ingredient with all of these is Watson's encyclopedic knowledge of what ingredients pair well and the creativity and courage that can only come from never having to actually eat.
FELBER: Even program director James Briscione was skeptical of the silicon chef's pork belly moussaka with cottage cheese, red bell peppers, dill and cheddar. But after synthesizing the synthetic recipe and giving it a try, his verdict was wow. Watson's verdict was better you than me, brother.
SAGAL: So Watson, the supercomputer that won on "Jeopardy!" famously is now running a food truck. Your next story of a "Jeopardy!" winner looking for success in the real world comes from Faith Salie.
FAITH SALIE: It's clear that all-time "Jeopardy!" champ Ken Jennings loves trivia. It turns out he also loves making love, making love happen between strangers. Yes, Ken Jennings is now a Mormon yenta with a successful matchmaking services. Jennings interviews clients personally and mentally stores countless pieces of information about them that he deems relevant for making a match, which he calls a Kennection.
SALIE: Jennings remembers if you like horseradish and what your first concert was. In his brain, he cross-references compatibility through such trivia and then spits out the name of your perfect partner. Sometimes he'll set clients up with two matches at once in a Daily Double date. He'll also attend your first date and throw out categories of questions for you to answer together so the conversation never lulls. Jennings says it's always exciting to see love spark in a lightning round about the New Deal or potent potables.
And if you do find romance, Jennings is happy to grow your family with his other business, Ken-vitro fertilization.
SAGAL: Ken Jennings, "Jeopardy!" champ, matchmaker. And your last story of quiz show champs looking for a new start comes from Mike Birbiglia.
MIKE BIRBIGLIA: On March 16, 2007, there was the first-ever three-way tie on "Jeopardy!" Those three contestants became good friends and even went in on a time share in Palm Springs, California, where they conceived the idea for a "Jeopardy!" themed musical called "Triple Jeopardy," the story of three game show contestants who refused to put their friendship in jeopardy.
BIRBIGLIA: They hired "Hairspray" composer Mark Shaiman to write the score. And this week they opened "Triple Jeopardy" in Branson, Missouri, at the beautiful Yakov Smirnoff Theater. The set includes a 90-foot-tall replica of the "Jeopardy!" board with the light bulbs replaced by spinning sparklers, and the part of Alex Trebeck is played by newscaster Geraldo Rivera, who insists on wearing his pink-tinted glasses and often no shirt.
BIRBIGLIA: Songs include "Alex, I Believe My Buzzer Is Broken" and a remake of the '90s hit "What is Love, Alex? Baby, Don't Hurt Me." A reviewer from the Branson Tri-lake News writes: This is just not good, and we are in Branson, Missouri.
SAGAL: All right, here are your choices. One of these is a true story of someone who's gone on to "Jeopardy!" to, if not greater things, other things. Is it, from Adam Felber, Watson the supercomputer now running a food truck in Texas? From Faith Salie, Ken Jennings opening up a matchmaking business? Or from Mike Birbiglia, three "Jeopardy!" champions who wrote a musical about three "Jeopardy!" champions. Which of these is the real story of "Jeopardy!" champions in the news?
FERRIS: Oh, none of them seem realistic to me, but I wish Mike's were true, I really do.
SAGAL: Yes, that would be awesome. I'd like to go with number one, and everybody kind of messed up reading that one. So maybe that's the clue.
Oh, really? Oh.
SALIE: All of you, Adam.
FELBER: We apologize.
SAGAL: All right. So by process of elimination, you've selected Adam Felber's story of Watson the supercomputer now running a food truck. Well, we spoke to someone intimately familiar with this new career for a "Jeopardy!" champion.
JAMES BRISCIONE: The computer comes up with some wild ideas for dishes, like Austrian chocolate burrito, Vietnamese apple kebobs, and we start cooking.
SAGAL: That was - James Briscione is the director of culinary development at the Institute of Culinary Educations in New York City, and he is known as chef to Watson the supercomputer at the food truck. Congratulations, Jason, you got it right. You've earned a point for Adam, and...
FELBER: But wounded my pride in the process, yes.
SAGAL: And you've won our prize.
FERRIS: I'm sorry (unintelligible) read.
SAGAL: And you've wonderfully read. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering device, whatever it may be. Thank you so much for playing with us today. Well done, sir.
FERRIS: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.View this story on npr.org