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Not My Job: Jordan Peele Gets Quizzed On The Teletubbies

Mar 4, 2017
Originally published on March 10, 2017 11:52 am

Jordan Peele used to be half of the comedy duo Key & Peele, with his partner Keegan-Michael Key. (You may remember Peele as the calm President Obama who needed an Anger Translator). His most recent project is the horror film Get Out, which he wrote, produced and directed.

We've invited Peele to play a game called "Eh-oh, eh-oh": Three questions about the children's TV show Teletubbies, which marks is 20th anniversary this month.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where really talented people do something that requires none of their talents. Jordan Peele used to be half of Key and Peele with his partner, Keegan-Michael Key. You may remember, for example, Jordan as the calm President Obama who needed an anger translator. Well, Jordan has now written and directed "Get Out." It's another take on race relations. It's also really scary and one of the more popular movies in America right now. Jordan Peele, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So congratulations, this is the first movie you've directed - right? - "Get Out."

JORDAN PEELE: This is it, man. I've - this has been a dream of mine since I was in high school, and I finally got to do it. And it was a dream come true.

SAGAL: And speaking of dreams come true, it is now, I think, like, one of the most popular movies in America. It's made like 10 times its cost back. That's amazing.

PEELE: It's actually number one. For one week, I had a number one movie. And it's still going. And yeah, the response has been incredible.

SAGAL: So let's talk a little bit about the movie. Now, I know it's a thriller and I don't want to give everything away, but 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)

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."

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

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 - you know, I do a pretty good me, too.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

PEELE: That was pretty (unintelligible).

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

PEELE: 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: Then you've got to purse your lips a little bit.

SAGAL: Yeah.

PEELE: All right? You've got to put 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...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: That's the thing. You got the thing that no one else got, which is even that 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 (ph). That's so perceptive. Yep. Yep.

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

(LAUGHTER)

PEELE: (Unintelligible) 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...

BILL 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." In fact, it - 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 in the sun is now old enough to drink.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Answer two out of three 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: What 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: 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 number 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. 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 King Jong Un; or C, defeat racists by confusing them with even more skin colors?

(LAUGHTER)

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

SAGAL: They probably did.

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No, he's right.

ROCCA: Oh, is it true?

SALIE: What?

KURTIS: Oh, yeah.

SALIE: You're kidding.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: He said - he said he's their number one 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.

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Tinky-Winky.

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. 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"; 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. 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 two out of three. 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 SONG, "TELETUBBIES THEME SONG")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Time for Teletubbies. Time for Teletubbies. Time for Teletubbies. Time for Teletubbies.

SAGAL: In just a minute, it's the bald and the beautiful in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.