'Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me' Apologizes For Polish Joke
November 1, 2013 at 4:57 AM (PT)
NPR and CHICAGO PUBLIC MEDIA noncommercial News-Talk WBEZ/CHICAGO comedy game show "WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME!" has apologized for a Polish joke told on last week's episode.
The joke was one of the three scenarios presented in the "Bluff the Listener Challenge" segment of the show, which offers three news stories from which a contestant must pick the true one. On SATURDAY, as part of a group of three "jokes turned real" stories, panelist PETER GROSZ read a story that involved a Polish stage performance delayed by a blown light bulb, necessitating two workers to replace due to union rules in a "how many Poles does it take to screw in a light bulb" situation; the real story involved chickens crossing a road.
The Polish joke drew the wrath of the Polish consulate in CHICAGO, with Consul General PAULINA KAPUSCINSKA complaining in a letter to Executive Producer MIKE DANFORTH that "Jokes such as these offend your listeners in a number of ways: firstly, they are xenophobic in nature and present CHICAGO NPR (WBEZ) as promoters of prejudice; secondly, they are some of the most unsophisticated of jokes which offend the intellect of NPR listeners, and lastly, they promote untrue stereotypes about Poles and POLAND."
DANFORTH responded with his own letter saying, "I can’t disagree with your judgment that the content of our OCTOBER 26th show was unsophisticated and insulting to the intellect of NPR listeners. I’m afraid just about everything we do on WAIT WAIT offends the intellect of the NPR audience. From the show’s inception we’ve considered ourselves to be 'NPR Without The Dignity.' But, that’s not meant to excuse something you found hurtful. Finding that right mix of irreverence and comedy is a risky business and we sometimes step over the line. Never is it our intention to offend. Therefore we are grateful to our listeners for letting us know if a particular joke or story went too far. Since we failed in that objective, please accept my apology on behalf of the staff of WAIT WAIT."