Not My Job: 3 Questions For 'Good Girls' Star Retta About Good Boys

Aug 24, 2019
Originally published on August 24, 2019 12:55 pm

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, and here is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: Thanks, everybody. Thank you so much. Now, we are trying to make up for all the lovely summer days we wasted staring at our phones by revisiting some great moments from the recent past, which we were only able to experience the first time because our phones were dead.

KURTIS: "Parks And Recreation" became a cult hit sitcom, and one of its stars, Retta, also became a cult hero to fans of the show. Last year, guest host Helen Hong asked her about her role on the show and her new book.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

HELEN HONG: So the title of your book called "So Close to Being The Poop Y'all Don't Even Know." Be honest, did you call it that just to watch interviewers squirm when they had to say it on the air?

RETTA: Little bit, little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: 'Cause you're not the one that actually has to say the title, right? The other people have to say it.

RETTA: Yeah, generally I don't. But I do like saying it.

HONG: What's the most creative any interviewer has come up with to say the title?

RETTA: Usually, they say so close to being the blank. But Kelly Ripa said so close to being the S.

HONG: Oh, the S. That Kelly, she's clever.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: She's a clever girl. Now, I know your real name is Marietta Sirleaf, which sounds so noble I feel like I should bow when I'm saying it.

RETTA: You should.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: I just did, Marietta Sirleaf. Now why do you just go by one name, Retta?

RETTA: When I was in college, I hooked up with this guy from Georgia, and they pronounce Marietta, Ga., May-retta (ph). And he started calling me Retta as if I allowed it and my friends thought it was hilarious and so they insisted on calling me that.

HONG: No.

RETTA: And then so when I first started doing stand-up, I was doing an open mic, and the emcee came out and said, who's next? I was, like, me. He's, like, what's your name? Marietta Sirleaf. What? I was, like, just Retta. And that's how I got Retta for...

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: What?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Because you didn't have the patience to go over your actual name with him.

(LAUGHTER)

RETTA: No, I was, like, if this is too challenging, let's stick to the easy stuff.

HONG: But now you're, like, a one-namer, which I think is boss.

RETTA: Yeah. Me, Cher, Bono...

SAGAL: Yeah.

RETTA: ...Living that life.

HONG: I heard you were about to pursue medicine before moving to LA to become a comedian. How did that work?

RETTA: I was pre-med. I was all about the books growing up. And I was taking a year off after college, which was the first time I ever lived alone. And so I wanted a break just before I went into medical school. And I used to - and I was living by myself, so my TV was my roommate. And after a while I would be, like, I can do this. I can do this.

HONG: What?

RETTA: But I decided that I wanted to have my own sitcom, which is why I started doing stand-up - because I saw that so many sitcoms were headed by stand-up comedians, so I went into stand-up.

HONG: Yeah. I'm a stand-up comedian and I still haven't gotten one, so...

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: We're working on it.

ADAM FELBER: Oh, awkward.

HONG: How - don't you come from...

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: Don't you come from an immigrant family, Retta?

RETTA: I do. My parents are Liberian.

HONG: And how do - how does your immigrant - myself coming from an immigrant family, when I told them I was going to become a stand-up comedian, they were like, what? So how did yours - because you were actually, like, on your way to medical school. How did they take that?

RETTA: They were actually pretty good about it. My mother said, you know, you're carrying around your father's last name, which is why I don't use my last name. And...

(LAUGHTER)

RETTA: My dad's big thing was, like, just get health insurance.

(LAUGHTER)

RETTA: He's, like, if something happens to you, we can't take care of you.

HONG: Your biggest role was as Donna on "Parks And Recreation."

RETTA: Yeah.

HONG: And are you - so I - can I just tell you I was a guest star on one episode of "Parks And Recreation" for literally 42 seconds, and I have had people accost me on the street. So I can't imagine what you must be dealing with having been on - like a series regular on the whole show.

RETTA: Oh, yeah. There's not a day that I walk out of the house and don't hear treat yourself. But it's fine.

(CHEERING)

HONG: Oh, see? We've opened the floodgates here.

RETTA: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: All right. Retta, we have invited you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Good Boy, That's A Good Boy.

HONG: You are currently starring on a show called "Good Girls"...

RETTA: Yes.

HONG: So naturally, we want to ask you about good boys, as in doggies.

RETTA: OK.

HONG: We're talking about doggies. We're going to ask you three questions about dogs who have been very good boys. Get two of them right, and you'll win a prize for one of our listeners - any voice from our show on their voicemail.

RETTA: OK.

HONG: Bill, who is Retta playing for?

KURTIS: Donyal Emami of Houston, Texas.

HONG: Retta, are you ready?

RETTA: Yes.

HONG: OK. Here's your first question. A dog in England has been on a tighter leash since its owner discovered it had been doing what? A, licking all the freshly washed dishes in the house; B, traveling by bus twice a week to a local pub, where he was fed sausages; or C, attempting to mate with the neighbor's cat, which it must be said was a very doggish-looking cat.

(LAUGHTER)

RETTA: Well, I'm going to go with C.

HONG: C?

RETTA: Humping on the other - humping on a cat.

HONG: Humping on a cat?

RETTA: Yeah.

HONG: Yeah? OK. I'm sorry, the answer was B, traveling by bus twice a week to the local pub where he was fed sausages.

RETTA: No.

(APPLAUSE)

HONG: The funniest part is apparently he could catch the bus there but, like, couldn't catch the bus back. So he always had to be driven home - hilarious.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: All right. Retta, here's your next question. It's OK. You have two more guesses left, so here's your next question. After being robbed several times, a tire shop in Texas decided to enlist the help of a guard dog. What happened next? A, the owners returned to discover the dog had chewed up every single one of their tires; B, the dog distracted a gang of robbers by humping their legs until the cops came; C, the next time thieves broke in, they stole the dog and some more tires.

RETTA: Oh, gosh, I'm going to go with C, the...

HONG: Yes, that is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

HONG: They actually - they stole the guard dog on top of stealing the tires. The thieves must have had treats, or he must have flunked guard dog school. All right, Retta. You are doing great. You got one right. Here is your last question. We like to give our dogs what they need. Which of these was created just for dogs? A, a new dating website called Fetch Me helps your pup find true love by displaying photos and barks of the dogs registered with it.

KURTIS: That's brilliant.

HONG: B, Spotify launched Adoptify, a music service that helps you find a dog that shares your tastes in music; or C, Petco created a new line of dog beds that you can custom order to smell like your dog's favorite butt.

(LAUGHTER)

RETTA: Well, I'm going to go with B.

HONG: Spotify?

RETTA: Yeah.

HONG: Yes, that is correct.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

HONG: Yes. You can find a dog that loves the kind of weird emo music that you're into. And I say no matter how cute the dog is, if that dog is into Red Hot Chili Peppers, keep it moving, dog. Uh-uh. Bill, how did Retta do?

KURTIS: You know, Retta is a winner in our books.

HONG: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

HONG: Retta stars in the series "Good Girls," which was just renewed for a second season on NBC. Retta, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

POUNDSTONE: Bye, Retta, thanks.

RETTA: Thank you.

FELBER: Bye.

HONG: Take care.

(SOUNDBITE OF QUENTIN BACHELET'S "A VERY CURIOUS CUB") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.