June 8, 2012

"By laughing out loud on the radio, they gave permission for you at home to laugh too."

The "Car Talk" guys are retiring. Did you like them or did they annoy you? If you liked/didn't like them, was their constant laughing part of the reason why?

68 comments:

Robert Cook said...

I don't think I've ever heard them. Where did their program appear? I wouldn't have been interested because I couldn't care less about cars.

Pogo said...

The novelty wore off quickly, but it was the only NPR show that didn't make me want to thrust an icepick in my ears.

The smug laughter on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me was wrist-cuttingly annoying.

David said...

The best part was how much they enjoyed each other. When my brother and I get together, we are 10 laughs a minute. He gets my humor. I get his. Are we funny? Not very, except to each other and a few twisted cousins, whom we rarely see unfortunately.

dmoelling said...

There seemed to be mostly women callers who knew little or nothing about cars (the drove mostly Volvos and Subarus). The jokes were fairly funny in an NPR kind of way. But if you really wanted a car talk show the C.A.R. Show on WJR in Detroit was great. A good mix of questions from motor heads to housewives, it has a good pace and actual information. I kept thinking the Car Talk guys on NPR were kinda faking is.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

They are a natural resource like the Marx Brothers once were. The talent of those Boston men is off the charts, hilarious

The know their stuff and they know people as well as we will ever see those two skills combined.

NPR is losing its best Saturday morning program.

Palladian said...

I like them, because I like personalities, mechanical subjects and the Magliozzi's familial repartee.

They'd already "semi-retired" anyway; for the past couple of years even their new shows were often a mix of new calls and spliced-in rerun calls. I know this because I listen every week and I have an outstanding memory, so I remember rerun segments from their original airings. It irked me a little because they didn't disclose that they were essentially airing reruns, but probably being paid the same as they were for totally new shows. Oh well.

My only other problem with the show was producer Doug Berman's ham-handed scripting of certain parts of the show, mostly the intros and other non-call segments. The Magliozzis were/are best when they're just extemporaneously speaking, but terrible when delivering Berman's Catskills-level comedy. The same problem hinders his other show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.

I also agree with Pogo, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me got really unbearable after Obama took office. Obama was actually a guest on the show, back in 2005 before he was the anointed one, and it was the first time I'd ever heard of him. I remember not liking him at all, but then that's my usual reaction to politicians.

Another problem I had with Wait, Wait is the same problem I have with all left-of-center shows with audiences: I can't bear the smug, self-satisfied clapping, hooting and cheering of the crowd at the dispension of every left-wing platitude. It's one of the reasons I can't stand to watch The Daily Show either.

Having PJ O'Rourke as a panelist was a nice antidote to the ideological homogeneity of the rest of the regular panel (and the host) but, in the end, it was still too unbalanced.

jeff said...

"I kept thinking the Car Talk guys on NPR were kinda faking is."

Weird,considering when they stopped with the stupid jokes, they were incredibly knowledgeable about pretty much anything to do with a car. Didn't both of them hold engineering degrees from MIT? Disagreed with their politics, but they are pretty smart people and I always wondered how they ended up working on cars with their background.

jeff said...

Ah, I see one went to MIT,and got a business degree. Then a MBA. Then his doctorate. Degrees in management. Still odd into to car repair.

Paul Kirchner said...

I could never listen to them--I can't stand performers who constantly laugh at their own jokes. That includes Jon Stewart and Rush Limbaugh.

Also, the Boston accent is possibly the nation's most grating, vying for that position with that of Long Island.

Palladian said...

They both graduated from MIT. Tom Magliozzi was the one who went on to get a PhD and was a marketing professor for years. Ray Magliozzi was more involved in the day-to-day operation of the business, but I'd say they ended up making out very well in the end.

Palladian said...

Also, the Boston accent is possibly the nation's most grating, vying for that position with that of Long Island.

You've never been to rural, southern Pennsylvania. Or Wisconsin, for that matter.

Pogo said...

Jesus H. Christ, the NPR accent is by far more annoying than the Car Talk guys.

It's like they inhale from a smug-filled balloon before reading the news. You'd think they were quoting scripture, the way they savor the script. Shit, they probably have a post-orgasmic smoke (clandestinely ...so naughty, smoking) after the hour.

I'm sure Beelzebub his own self sounds like dat.

sydney said...

I always enjoyed them. I often learned something about cars from them and I thought they interacted well with their callers. My father-in-law, however, couldn't stand them. He thought they were disrespectful of the callers by joking around so much. He just wanted car talk, not car jokes.

FKACato said...

Another problem I had with Wait, Wait is the same problem I have with all left-of-center shows with audiences: I can't bear the smug, self-satisfied clapping, hooting and cheering of the crowd at the dispension of every left-wing platitude. It's one of the reasons I can't stand to watch The Daily Show either.

So true. No doubt they think they're Speaking Truth to Power when they're usually just worshiping it.

MadisonMan said...

It was an interesting way to kill an hour if you're driving.

tiger said...

Yeah, it's been a real like/dislike relationship with the show.

I loved it years ago but the constant, inane laughter along with the ending credits really grated after a while.

Still, if you ignore the stupid laughter and turned them off before the last two minutes you could glean alot of info about cars from them.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

@MadisonMan

I'd rather kill myself than kill an hour with the forlorn cast of Wait Wait.

Shit, I'd listen to polka music over that.

MadisonMan said...

I'm talking about Car Talk. I don't listen to Wait Wait.

whoresoftheinternet said...

Fucking parasites. Taking taxpayer money to make a drivelly show where they laugh at their own jokes.

Fuck them and their listeners into bankruptcy.

Rob said...

The Car Talk guys are great. And here's the secret of the show: it's not about cars, it's about the scientific method, cause and effect, problem solving. They'll be missed.

Chip S. said...

Tough crowd.

traditionalguy said...

Why no sense of humor? Laughter is good medicine. And many really funny guests interract with the Panel on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.

They had Paula Poundstone on one morning and she nearly gave me a hernia laughing.

Mark O said...

Loved them. Best thing on NPR.

Henry said...

I used to listen to them and enjoyed them, but one day WBUR stuffed their weekend classical music programming into the trunk of a hybrid and drove it into the Charles river. After that I never had the dial tuned to the right station to pick them up.

JorgXMcKie said...

I liked them, and their accents weren't as bad as some of the Boston stuff I heard in the Air Force in the 60s.

The jokes were bad, but I enjoyed seeing if I could recognize the problem before they said what they thought it was. I did way better than 50% [or at least my answer agreed with theirs that often]. That made me feel good.

EDH said...

I liked how they always made fun of Ray Suarez.

But what will happen to their landmark office in Harvard Square?

Dewey, Cheetham & Howe

Tom and Ray Magliozzi, of NPR's Car Talk radio program, named their business corporation "Dewey, Cheetham & Howe". Their corporate offices are located on a third-floor office in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The office is clearly visible from the square, with lettering on the window readable from ground level. The Magliozzi brothers have asserted that they established the firm in 1989, although this assertion is immediately followed by the sentence "In all seriousness, we've had lot of fun along the way."

Bill said...

AA: "If you liked/didn't like them, was their constant laughing part of the reason why?"

They laugh too much at their own jokes, but they're still fun.

Paul Kirchner: "Also, the Boston accent is possibly the nation's most grating, vying for that position with that of Long Island."

They have an accent?

Allison said...

What annoyed me so much wasn't their jokes. It was that they never helped anyone!

At best, their help was Click saying "doing X" and Clack saying "don't do X". Or vice versa.

And it sure felt like at most, they spoke to 4 people an hour.

Palladian said...

I would agree, Car Talk is/was the best show on NPR, and the only remaining reason I listen to it.

Paddy O said...

Loved it. They were clearly and entirely enjoying themselves, which isn't something that I always get from a lot of performers. They enjoyed each other, they enjoyed the callers, a true love for people and problem solving -- sort of the entire opposite of the irony drenched, forced humor of the alternatives.

They weren't necessarily witty funny, they were enjoyable funny who because they loved life so much gave cheer to listeners.

The wait, wait folks always seems like a show for the sort of people who don't have any sense of humor but pride themselves on having a sense of humor--like the Bruno Kirby character in Good Morning Vietnam.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

They were the last of the Great American Bullshit Artists and radio will be a much poorer place without them.

Plus, there is now no reason to listen to NPR.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Wisconsin Public Radio used to have a superb Saturday morning car show, called About Cars, with Matt Joseph, who would listen to the problem, and give an honest diagnosis, based on the information provided. No forced laughter, no stupid pseudo advice, just sound information, from a man who knew what he was about. But Joy Cardin, at that time program manager at WPR, thought Car Talk was more amusing, so we here in WI are stuck with the Boston Buffons. Good Riddance.

MayBee said...

Loved it. They were clearly and entirely enjoying themselves, which isn't something that I always get from a lot of performers. They enjoyed each other, they enjoyed the callers, a true love for people and problem solving -- sort of the entire opposite of the irony drenched, forced humor of the alternatives.

They weren't necessarily witty funny, they were enjoyable funny who because they loved life so much gave cheer to listeners.


I was going to say something, but then Paddy O said this and I'll just say, "exactly".

MayBee said...

When you are having conversation, laughing at your own jokes is perfectly normal. How odd it would be if you were out with a group of friends and there was some rule that the person who last said something funny had to sit there and just watch everyone else laugh. How awkward that would be!

It's only annoying if someone is saying things that aren't really funny.

Mark Nielsen said...

The funniest thing I've ever heard on the radio was on CarTalk -- it was one of the weekly "Puzzlers". (It might have been especially funny to me because I'm a mathematician...) The puzzle was "How high can you count using just your fingers?" The answer is not 10, but rather 1023, or one less than 2^10. You simply represent a 10-digit binary number by holding fingers up for a 1 and down for a 0. As Click was explaining the solution to Clack, you heard Clack break in with "Oh yeah, well then what's *this* number?" To which Click calmly responded "Well, let's see... that's 128 plus 4, so it's 132." I had to pull off the road because I was laughing so hard.

The Converses said...

Loved the show! By far the best on NPR and now the network will have no useful purpose. Generally I dislike people laughing at their own jokes, but not them--it kinda added to the show. On my local, Wait Wait immediately followed. Couldn't be a starker contrast--couldn't change the dial fast enough because I didn't want to puke on their smugness. (As an aside, I'm jealous. I used to have the grating annoying Boston accent. Haven't lived there for 30 years and can't even fake one now.)

Uncle Frank said...

"You've never been to rural, southern Pennsylvania."

Uh, south-central or south-western? Because that would be two different speech patterns. South-eastern would be Philly and its suburbs, which is probably another accent as well.

Curious George said...

"Pogo said...
@MadisonMan

I'd rather kill myself than kill an hour with the forlorn cast of Wait Wait.

Shit, I'd listen to polka music over that."

Saturday mornings WSAU AM550 out of Wausau is all polka, if you can pull it in and want to test that theory. My personal record is 47 minutes. Then it was either turn it off or drive off the road to find the sweet, sweet, relief of death.

Roger J. said...

I loved them, my ex-wife hated them--notice I said "ex-wife"

Always loved the shows ending where they listed the credits--dont know if they wrote those themselves, but they were always hilarious. At least to me

Comanche Voter said...

Car Talk was great over the years. Wait Wait Don't Tell Me was an exercise in self satisfied horsepuckey. I'd break my wrist switching the radio at the end of Car Talk--to avoid even a smidgen of that Wait Wait nonsense.

Michael Haz said...

Their 19999 commencement address at MIT is a classic. It begins at 11:00 here.

Bertram Wooster said...

Say it ain't so!

tim in vermont said...

Put me down for missing them being there, but for years I kind of lost NPR on the dial. I have begun listening again recently because they seem to be staying out of politics more. I won't listen to them for news however. I think that Prairie Home Companion and the gratuitous Bush bashing on an otherwise delightful show really drove me away in a lost them on the dial sense.

But if I happened to hear Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers, I always stayed tuned.

Oh yeah, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is a cringe inducer in a dial avoider kind of way.

tim in vermont said...

This thread restores my faith in human nature when I see how many people gratuitously slammed Wait Wait

That show is everything that is wrong with NPR.

Quaestor said...

I rarely listen, but when I have I find their manner a bit cloying and their jokes and puns a bit stale. My usual reaction is to shout get to the point! at the radio whenever the subject turns to a question I find interesting.

A friend of mine in Chapel Hill is a regular fan. He used to call me up on a weekend to try the "puzzler" out on me.

Quaestor said...

[One] went to MIT,and got a business degree. Then a MBA. Then his doctorate.

If one can be accepted by MIT, why waste one's time there in BizAdmin department? I always found that baffling.

madAsHell said...

Who in their right mind would call these clowns and ask a question?

I hated the teasers, and WAY too many commercials.

Muns said...

Oh come on! Give me a break!! Polka on a Saturday morning with CABBAGE ROLLS N' COFFEE MM MMM GOOD!

http://youtu.be/lmSC52Npuq0

Jamieson said...

Loved the laughter. The Magliozzi's voices and laughter presented a stark contrast from the soft-spoken nasaly condescending smug self-absorbed self-righteous blather that infects all other NPR programming.

Quaestor said...

This thread restores my faith in human nature when I see how many people gratuitously slammed "Wait Wait"

Hardly gratuitous. Richly deserved I'd say. Palladian's report that Junior Senator Obama was a guest on that on-air humor abortion is news to me, and not surprising at the same time. Lord Zero would jump at the chance to bask in the luv of the "Wait Wait" studio audience, composed mostly of the sweepings of Cambridge Common. Now we know at least one of the places Obama was when he should have been in the Senate Chamber casting votes.

Quaestor said...

Thanks Muns.

The Shmenges Brothers, a pair of scintillating musical wits in comparison to the smug Sagal and the droning Kasell, though I suspect Sagal has a big hairy mole on his ass.

Palladian said...

One of the reasons that Obama was on Wait, Wait in 2005 was because the show is based in Chicago, so the audience was less Cambridge than Hyde Park.

Quaestor said...

Pogo wrote:
It's like they inhale from a smug-filled balloon before reading the news.

And why shouldn't they exude smug? After all, Nina Totenberg and her colleagues can sit back and say "Hey, I've got no talent. I'm a font of misinformation. I have daily soapbox if I want it, and absolutely no need to worry about Arbitron numbers. It's the best gig in radioland" They all like to look down their noses at Rush, but they'd all be homeless vagrants whinging spare change on street corners if they had to work in an competitive broadcast environment like he does.

But the worst, the scum clinging to the bottom of the barrel is Lynne Rossetto Kasper and her "Splendid Table" vomit-fest. Her paeans to food items make me want to leap through a plate glass window on the 30th floor of some urban edifice.
I would rather be condemned to eat Sonic hotdogs for the rest of my life than eat any meal I've ever heard her describe on her show. Besides being intolerably upbeat about revolting food, she's remarkable clueless about her chosen field. For example, who in his right mind would go searching for authentic pork barbecue in the wilds of Duchess County, NY?

caplight45 said...

What Paddy O said, all of it. Frasier and Niles would probably listen to "Wait, Wait" and chortle about it over espresso at Cafe Nervosa.

A friend of mine was on once.

The key is that the brothers brought the caller into the joke and laughed with them not at them.

roesch/voltaire said...

What a great combination of knowledge served with wit to help folks who feel victimized by autos and their mechanics feel better about the problem and in most cases actually know what steps to take to solve the problem. The puzzlers and family history added spice and a human dimension to the show, which I think made it more accessible to the average listener as seen by the number of women car owners who actually had the courage to call in-- I challenge another car talk show to match that.

Quaestor said...

I just visited the "Wait Wait" website where I perused the capsule bios of their panelist. I noted that P. J. O'Rourke was described as "a hard-bitten, cigar-smoking conservative", but this was leavened with the comforting news that "he bashes all political persuasions". None of the others was named "a knuckle dragging paleo-liberal" or "lobotomized Democratic Party guard dog" or "a jackbooted myrmidon of the nanny state" or "a drooling left wing automaton" or even "a champion of progressive politics". For the target audience being perfectly comfortable with the disaster based at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the default position, and therefore completely un-noteworthy.

ndspinelli said...

They were annoying dagos.

PackerBronco said...

A great radio show, funnier than Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (And without the liberal attitude) is Says You. Listen if you get the chance.

I also love reruns of My Word.

Rick Lee said...

The first few times I listened to Car Talk I was really annoyed that they joked too much and talked about cars too little. But eventually I got used to them and came to like them. I fell in love with them when they skewered the (oft repeated) notion that Subarus are reliable. I owned one of those POS cars.

maudgonne said...

Quaestor, you're so right about Lynne Rossetto Kasper LOL!

Kensington said...

P.J. O'Rourke hasn't been the same since he started appearing on that putrid Wait Wait show.

Palladian said...

They were annoying dagos.

Takes one to know one, eh spinelli?

Christy said...

I always delighted in Car Talk when I caught it, but never sought it out.

So you're all saying I can't feel smug about knowing the answers on Wait, Wait, but it is okay not to know the answers on Car Talk?

Halfway between Baltimore and D.C. is a Polka palace called Blob's Park. True! Been around since the Great Depression. Fun place for a night out with a crowd even if Polka music isn't your think. Beer, food, dance music, and a wide open dance floor. What's not to love?

Mel said...

I love Car Talk. I donate to my local NPR station so that I can listen to Click and Clack and the garden guy on Saturday morning (and a little bluegrass occasionally...)
I like that they make people laugh at themselves and that they really do try to get to a true answer, eventually.
I also think it's fun to listen with my mechanic husband, who often comes up with the same answer and when he doesn't is glad to tell me why. :)

Hagar said...

Click and Clack were entertaining and most of the time gave good advice, but then sometimes, aiaiai!

RPG said...

"but they are pretty smart people and I always wondered how they ended up working on cars with their background." Maybe those chose to work on cars, or should people with MIT degrees be better employed according to the needs of the State? Your comment almost sounds like the comment,"Gee, how come a smart kid like that goes into the Army and not college after high-school?"

I work in a very white-collar and mentally demanding environment, one which does not require me to grease my hands or bust my knuckles, and I find that working on my vehicles is a way to blow some stress off. Not only that, oftentimes, working with my hands and on fixing a problem like those who called into Car Talk described, often leads me to find solutions to mental challenges. I recommend reading "Shop Class as Soulcraft" by Matthew Crawford for an idea as to why mechanical skills enhance mental skills as well as how understanding the "perfection" required by fixing a car is demonstrated by the car working or not, allows us to get away from making excuses in the face of empirical evidence. You should order it online from Althouse's site, but there is an essay by Crawford here: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/shop-class-as-soulcraft