One of my many secret vices is NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!
A few episodes ago [npr] they had Stacey Abrams on the show, and – damn – is she quick. It was heartwarming to hear an American politician who is funny and smart.
Stacey is on at 21:27 if you want to jump right to her. There are a few moments when Peter Segal pokes her with prepared content and she fires right back. I assume Segal, like most improv comics, keeps a few framing lines up his sleeve, which Abrams was not able to do (since she was responding) – it’s one of the ways that comedians manage to sound smarter than the average person.
Segal: We should start by saying, you’ve presumably been listening from offstage, do you have an official response to the first half of our show?
Abrams: I do, but it requires a tele-prompter, a fake non-greenscreen, and a union hall.
Pow! As I listened to that exchange a few times to transcribe it, you can practically hear Abrams’ mental gears whirring. Seat of the pants comedy like this is really really hard to do well.
Segal: You must know that [giving the response to the state of the union] is a cursed job?
Abrams: I don’t have a job right now, so I was free.
“Don’t quit your day job” quips are thereby ruled out.
Segal: It’s technically called a ‘response’. Did you think at all about what you thought president Trump might say, so you could respond to him?
Abrams: I would put it this way: (pause) I’ve heard him speak before. (long silence) (much laughter) I assumed it would be some combination of demagoguery, self-aggrandizement, two lines about something nice that he would, three lines later overrule…
Segal: Did you know that it would rhyme?
Abrams: I feel sorry for whoever thought that was the right way to go.
Georgia, clearly, could have done better.