Not My Job: Jordan Peele Gets Quizzed On The Teletubbies

Jul 8, 2017
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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

So Jordan Peele was a comedian famous for her sketch show with Keegan-Michael Key, "Key & Peele." But for his first project as a film director, he picked something different, a horror film called "Get Out," which went on to become the most successful horror film in decades.

BILL KURTIS: Peter tried to talk to him about the movie without really talking about the movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SAGAL: 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)

JORDAN PEELE: Thank you. Thank you. Yes, it is basically the horror version of "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?"

SAGAL: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

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)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

PEELE: (Laughter) But yeah, they - my mother loves it. She's my biggest fan. And, you know, she's woke.

SAGAL: Oh, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I would certainly hope so. Hey, let's talk about "Key & 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, APPLAUSE)

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...

KURTIS: Eh-oh. Eh-oh.

SAGAL: This, of course, is how the Teletubbies say hello.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: 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: Wait. 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)

SAGAL: 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'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: 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: You can play it because it exists. That's the real one.

(APPLAUSE)

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 No. 1 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 MUSIC)

SAGAL: When we come back, ducks, horses and Supreme Court justices. And Paula Poundstone gets bleeped on the air. That's all coming up in a minute on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.