The Quizmaster Quizzed
The Wall St. Journal once called you “The king of small talk radio.” Are you still?
M: I don’t know, I don’t get the Wall St. Journal.
Did you ever think that, 25 years later, you would still be saying, pretty much word for word, the same things?
M: I’m pretty consistent. Sometimes my slider doesn’t fall off the table, but otherwise pretty dependable. I know a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but I still don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Birds gotta swim, fish gotta fly. I don’t believe I was preordained to do a public radio comedy quiz show, but I do think I was deigned. The great thing about being a Quizmaster is that you have all the answers. It’s the closest a layman can get to infallibility. Normally you have to be a Jewish woman or the Pope. I hope to live to see a Jewish female Pope.
How do you feel about current trends in America and the world?
M: Hard to find a bandwagon to hop on, but not from lack of bandwagons. A lack of hopping, yes. Not a lot of upticks. And what about those flagging indicators. More natural fabrics in menswear, that’s got to be good. The only revolution, in fact, has been in menswear. The carefree fabrics, the relaxed fit. Good news that radiation from cell phones is apparently not destroying the brains of users, they were like that already. Needing a cell phone to cross the street is probably the most disturbing cultural trend beside Snuggies or those plastic bumps women can put in their hair-do’s to get that Jersey girl look. There’s certainly more appreciation of what it would be like to be the Gulf of Mexico. Toyota pedals are not currently sticking. I have health care. But I pay for it. I’m on Facebook and no longer just lurking, but I’m very uncomfortable with people I don’t even know talking about things I don’t even care about on what is supposed to be my page. Too much like being at home.
A big believer in social networking are you?
M: Beats doing it in person. Probably more efficient then tossing your business card into the fishbowl next to the Lions Club gumball machine at the Chinese Buffet in Tomah.
In all 25 years what is your favorite moment of the show?
M: Well, that’s easy, it’s always the same moment, when I hoist the Red Lager to my parched lips at the Great Dane with my stage-mates Jim, John, and Jeff and Lyle, my soul mate, and we go to great lengths to avoid mentioning anything that might just have occurred on any sort of radio show anywhere. That’s the real show, afterwards with the boys.
Kind of a bromance thing?
M: Well, you know, we never called it that among the boys, always just a guy gets lonely on the road kind of thing, and when we’re grounded by forest fires at the Fairbanks airport an “at least we’re all together” kind of thing. I am a man’s man, in fact, I would say a man’s man’s man, and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility, but that’s what she said. I am not about to go bare-chesty drumming in the woods with them, but we’ve shared some things that guys usually don’t. Share. Spiritual more than physical.
If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?
M: What are my choices?
Hardwoods, softwoods. Coniferous.
M: Something deciduous, I think. With dicotyledons, because you never get a chance to say that after high school biology. Gymnosperms. There, I said it and I’m glad. I know, a bilbao that grows upside down, especially one that isn’t real, like at Disney World.
When you come to heaven’s gate, what will St. Peter say to you?
M: I pictured you taller. Better looking.
What will you say to him?
M: Ditto, Moishe, or whatever your name used to be.
Trivia must be your life.
M: Yes, it must be.
Do you ever tire of trivia?
M: No, for that would be to tire of life. Trivia is no small thing. Nor the trivial in one’s own life—
Well, let’s not go there.
M: So, you admit you’re me.
Although I notice that you do not talk about your wife, what was her name, anymore, the occasional aside aside.
M: On advice of counsel. Hers. I was lucky in that my wife was largely a fictional character, although the children seem to be real. No, I had to let Consuela go. Should just have said ‘she took to marriage like a duck to oil’ and left it at that. Wife jokes are not funny when they’re on you. Now, with the girls, we have to be thinking about caregiver and power of attorney considerations. Wife jokes, kid jokes, pre-senility concerns, or, last gasps—its de-evolutionary. On the upside, I no longer discuss my daughter’s poopies on the air, and it’s a good thing because she’s in college now.
If there’s one thing you would like the audience to take away from the Whad’ya Know experience it would be . . .
M: Well, not the golf course pencils. We have to pay for those. They are welcome to take any left over donuts because otherwise Lyle will and he, ahem, doesn’t need them. Emotionally, I would hope they would not feel they’ve been through some sort of ordeal. A hostage situation, internment, lineup, inoculation, anything like that. There is a lot of pressure on the actual physical audience of my show; I always tell them “this is an audience participation show, so if it’s a bad show, who’s fault is it?” They always say mine, and we never get any farther. In 25 years. The audience at home, mostly guys whose wives hate me who have to pretend to be putting insulation in the attic so they listen on their walkmans, and middle-aged guys who still live with their mothers, have no need of any more obligations, they should just enjoy it, hopefully. My audience is so nice they almost make me feel good about myself.