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Panel Questions

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Maeve Higgins, Luke Burbank and Tom Bodett. And here again is your host...


KURTIS: ...At the Altria Theater in Richmond, Va., Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: In just a minute, like a true Virginian, Bill says, give me limerick, or give me death.


SAGAL: It's our Listener Limerick Challenge. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924.

Right now, panel, though, it is time for you to answer some questions about the week's news. Tom, people are always looking at predictors for kids to see how they're going to fare later in life. Well, one new study out of the U.K. shows that a surprisingly reliable predictor is what your child did - what role they had in what common childhood activity?

TOM BODETT: I mean, it's not a - it's an activity with...

SAGAL: It's an activity that a lot of kids do.

BODETT: So it's not, like, nose-picking because, like...


SAGAL: If that were the case, I'd be president.

BODETT: I know. Well, that's why I have high hopes...


BODETT: ...For my children.

SAGAL: I'll give you one hint. When I say play a role, I mean that quite literally.

BODETT: Oh, god - the class plays.

SAGAL: Yeah. But specifically, what kind of play done every year around Christmas?

BODETT: Maybe the nativity play.

SAGAL: Exactly.

BODETT: Is that right?


SAGAL: A nativity play. According to this study...


SAGAL: A child's role in a nativity play, as a child, is a predictor of their fate later in life.

BODETT: Is this why we haven't had a Jewish president?

SAGAL: That's exactly why.


SAGAL: It's true. It's sad. But back to the study.


SAGAL: So to help promote their annual Christmas pageant, Virgin Media in the U.K. asked...


SAGAL: Yeah, I know - ironic.

BURBANK: That's a coincidence.

SAGAL: I know.


SAGAL: They asked 2,000 adults what role they had played in their childhood nativity pageants and then asked them about their jobs and their income and their hobbies and correlated it. And it turns out former Josephs and Marys, the leads, tended to be, later in life, the highest earners. And specifically, Marys were the most likely to claim they were still a virgin even though they were pregnant.


BODETT: I was Joseph in - I remember it was the third-grade play.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODETT: I was Joseph. I had no lines, though.

SAGAL: They didn't give Joseph any lines?

BURBANK: He doesn't have any lines anywhere.

SAGAL: I would not know, quite literally, so...

MAEVE HIGGINS: I mean, he's the least important character in the entire...

BODETT: He kind of is, right.


HIGGINS: ...Thing.


BODETT: I mean...

HIGGINS: He's not the dad. He barely has a job.

BODETT: And talk - I mean...


BURBANK: Can't get a hotel room.

SAGAL: Yeah.


HIGGINS: But I'm just wondering, Peter, is there anything there about, say, if you play the donkey?


SAGAL: As a matter of fact, there is...

HIGGINS: What happens to you?

SAGAL: ...Because it turns out that kids who played the donkeys did better - and I'm not kidding - than kids who played the lambs.

HIGGINS: Oh, yeah?


SAGAL: Yeah.

HIGGINS: That makes - that checks out with the person I knew who played the donkey.


SAGAL: And this person you knew - how did she feel about playing the donkey?

BURBANK: Were you the front half or the back half?


HIGGINS: I was the entire donkey.


HIGGINS: And I empathize because I didn't have any lines, either. I'd just roar every now and then.


SAGAL: Well, wait a minute. If you were a donkey and you were roaring, no wonder you're a failure because seriously...


SAGAL: It's more of a bray, Maeve. Did you know that?

HIGGINS: No, the asses roar.


HIGGINS: That's in the actual Bible, I think.

BODETT: That asses roar?


BODETT: Really?


BURBANK: That's the first time that hasn't been bleeped out on NPR.

SAGAL: I know. Can you do your ass roar?


SAGAL: You graced us with your Al Pacino.


HIGGINS: OK. Can we also give Tom a line, like, so that he can feel vindicated?

SAGAL: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

HIGGINS: You can do a line, too.

SAGAL: We're going to make up for childhood trauma.

HIGGINS: You're driving the donkey into Bethlehem, and I'm the donkey.

BODETT: Giddy-up.

HIGGINS: (Imitating donkey bray).


SAGAL: Your income just went up 10%.


NAT KING COLE: (Singing) Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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