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Not My Job: Tony Hawk

BILL KURTIS: In March of last year, we went to San Diego, home of legendary skater Tony Hawk, who we invited to join us along with Jessi Klein, Helen Hong and Luke Burbank.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

So, Tony, you are 50 now. So what is it like being a skater in your 50s?

TONY HAWK: It's tough to stay up on new tricks. It's tough to stay relevant.

SAGAL: I find it tough to go up and down stairs at my age.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I am gripping the rail with both hands.

HAWK: I definitely have - I have my days of soreness. But I think it's - I never quit. That's my only secret.

SAGAL: Yeah, I understand you go around, and you do a lot of public speaking, as well.

HAWK: I do. Yeah. Yeah.

SAGAL: To whom? Who wants Tony Hawk to come and speak?

HAWK: (Laughter) It's strange. Once you're connected into that world, you start making the rounds. And I've done speaking gigs at credit unions. I've done speaking gigs....

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: That's true - Internet security companies.

SAGAL: OK. I have nothing against credit unions and Internet security companies. Some of them have all my money, and the other has all my passwords, but...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: What do they want to hear from Tony Hawk, professional skateboarding icon?

HAWK: Honestly, if you're at a credit union and a professional skateboarder comes up, they think that's, like, so far beyond cool.

SAGAL: Yeah.

HAWK: You can kind of say anything. Like, yeah, bro. It's sick. I do mad kickflips. And they're, like, that's awesome.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You could get away with that.

HAWK: I've never said that in a speech. I'm just giving an example, yeah.

SAGAL: You could. It does occur to me that given if you're speaking to audiences like that or, frankly, me, you could make up anything you wanted...

HAWK: Sure, yeah. Yeah.

SAGAL: ...And I would buy it. Like, you know, I was the first person to do a half-left Bolivian, and I'd be like wow...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Whatever the heck.

HAWK: If you ever hear someone say fandango, that's sort of the code word from experienced skateboarders when they're making fun of you.

SAGAL: Really?

HAWK: Yeah.

SAGAL: So how would that come up? So how would that be used?

HAWK: Oh, like - oh, you skate. Yeah, you skate. You know, what kind of tricks can do you do? Oh, I can do back stand fandangos, you know, and...

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: And if the other person's nodding, you clearly know that they're not a skateboarder...

SAGAL: Oh, wow.

HAWK: ...That they're pretending to - yeah.

SAGAL: So this is very - you just ruined it, though, for America.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Like, half - a hundred thousand people just went, oh, my God. That guy was lying to me.

(LAUGHTER)

LUKE BURBANK: Tony, can I ask you a quick question? I was an obsessed skateboarder as a kid, and I wanted to build a half-pipe ramp in our backyard, which would have taken up the entire backyard. My dad never let me do it. Do you think if he would've let me build that ramp, I would be sitting where you're sitting right now?

HAWK: Absolutely, yeah.

SAGAL: Wow.

BURBANK: Will you tell him that? I'm going to call him really quick.

HAWK: Yeah, let's call him up.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I don't know if any other father has ever had to deal with this problem, but is it a problem that you are so cool?

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: Not to our kids.

SAGAL: Really?

HAWK: No. No.

SAGAL: Really. Not even your kids. Your kids, I mean.

HAWK: Yeah (laughter). And sometimes, though....

SAGAL: You're Tony Hawk, for Christ's sake. What more do they want?

HAWK: I have to say they are jaded because sometimes I get opportunities, and it's not necessarily something I want to do, but it's a video - you know, it's a movie premiere that I feel like they'll be excited about. I say, hey, do you guys want to go? We got invited to the "Incredibles" premiere. Like, I don't know. I'll see what's going on that day.

SAGAL: Really? What?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Hey, would you like to go to this amusement park where there's a ride I created that's named for me?

HAWK: And there'll be no line. Well, I don't know. How long is the drive?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I do want to ask you one last thing. Is it true that you were the first person to be allowed to skateboard in the White House?

HAWK: I wouldn't say allowed.

SAGAL: Oh.

HAWK: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: What happened?

HAWK: Well, I - so I was there during the previous administration. They had a bunch of prominent or celebrity-type fathers coming, and they were talking to a lot of different charities around D.C.

SAGAL: Right.

HAWK: But everyone converged at the White House for - in the morning. And I brought my skateboard because every time I go somewhere without my skateboard, people ask me that.

SAGAL: Right.

HAWK: Where's your skateboard? And so I wasn't going to get caught there, especially with the president...

SAGAL: No, sure.

HAWK: ...Asking.

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: And suddenly, I found myself in a hallway unattended.

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: And I was kind of looking around, and I had - there were other - a couple other pro basketball players in the same group. And I said, hey, will you take my phone and shoot a photo if I skate...

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: ...Sure. And I skated, and it went viral.

SAGAL: Yeah, of course, it did.

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: Yeah.

SAGAL: And did you ever get in any trouble?

HAWK: I didn't. They kind of ignored it.

SAGAL: Really.

HAWK: Yeah, I think they just didn't - they didn't want to say that I ever had permission. They didn't want to acknowledge that I did it. But I would do it again.

SAGAL: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: Not now.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well, Tony Hawk, it's a pleasure to have you here again.

HAWK: Thank you.

SAGAL: This time...

(APPLAUSE)

HAWK: Thank you.

SAGAL: This time, Tony Hawk, we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Why Hello, You Fancy Bird.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Tony Hawk - obviously, your name, but it's also a phrase that here means a fancy bird, a tony hawk. Perhaps you've never...

HAWK: Is Tony fancy?

SAGAL: Tony is a word that means fancy.

HAWK: All right. OK.

SAGAL: So Tony Hawk is a fancy bird.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I can't believe you've never realized that before.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: At any rate, we're going to ask you three questions about other fancy birds. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they might choose on their voicemail. Bill, who is Tony Hawk playing for?

KURTIS: Tim Latshaw of Grand Rapids, Mich.

SAGAL: All right, are you ready to play?

HAWK: All right.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Tony, we all know that the Queen of England loves her corgi dogs, but she also has a strong connection with some fancy birds. What is it? A, at any time, she can choose to wear a, quote, "living crown," which is a crested pigeon trained to sit on her head...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...B, by law she owns every swan in Britain; or C, among her body guards, the queen's own eagle regiment, a squad of 12 trained attack birds?

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: Wow. I really want it to be C.

SAGAL: You want it to be C.

HAWK: Yeah.

SAGAL: The eagle regiment.

HAWK: I'm going to go with it because it just sounds so great.

SAGAL: Your little eagles will have those funny hats...

HAWK: Yes, please.

SAGAL: ...Where they march. No.

HAWK: No.

SAGAL: It's absolutely B. By regal decree since the 1300s, every British monarch technically owns every swan in Britain. They're all royal property.

HAWK: Wow.

SAGAL: So if you fool with a swan, you might get hit with a very famous purse, so don't do it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Two more questions, although I appreciate your spirit there in choosing the dumber one. But that's all right. Next question - swiftlets. Swiftlets are fancy cave-dwelling birds in Southeast Asia. They're prized primarily for their what? A, they're the only birds known to lay square eggs, good for stacking....

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...B, their saliva is used to make a very expensive gourmet soup; or C, swiftlet feathers are superabsorbent and used to make the first Swiffer mops?

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: Bird's nest soup. I've actually had it.

SAGAL: Yes, you're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It is B.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: The swiftlets make nests with their our own saliva. That saliva is then used to make bird's nest soup, an Asian delicacy - very good. Last question - if you get this right, you win. The capercaillie is the world's largest grouse. It's a kind of ground-dwelling bird. And the capercaillie has been filmed doing which of these amazing feats? A, a triple axel while skating across a frozen lake...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...B, eating an entire anteater, earning it the name anteater eater...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Or C, beating BBC natural historian David Attenborough in a fight.

(LAUGHTER)

HAWK: Wow. San Diego, I need some help.

AUDIENCE: C.

HAWK: C. I really want to believe these other scenarios, though.

SAGAL: I know. It would be lovely.

HAWK: Yeah, C. That sounds - that sounds more reasonable.

SAGAL: That's exactly right. It is C.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: But to be fair, Attenborough was kind of asking for it. He...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Was doing one of his nature specials talking about a capercaillie is very protective of its territory during mating season. He walks right up to them, and the capercaillie beats the hell out of him. It's really...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Knocks him flat on his butt. Bill, how did Tony Hawk do on our quiz?

KURTIS: He gets away with a win - 2 out of 3. You're a winner.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Tony Hawk is, of course, a legendary skateboarder. And his new mobile game...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: ..."Tony Hawk's Skate Jam," is available now on all the platforms.

Tony Hawk, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: When we come back, our journey continues with stops in Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Texas, and finally, back home to Chicago with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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