The biggest challenge, by far, of hosting The Interview Show—a talk show held at The Hideout the first Friday of every month—has been booking the guests. My relentless e-mailing has paid off: John Mahoney, Rick Bayless, Kid Sister, Tracy Letts, Audrey Niffenegger, and others have plopped themselves down next to me on the ratty couch I lug before each show from the bar’s second-floor office. Still, some guests take an extra amount of coaxing—such as Peter Sagal. Below, a timeline of how I stalked (ultimately successfully!) the Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! host (pictured), who appears (cross fingers!) December 3rd.
February 23, 2009
Visiting a friend at WBEZ, I introduce myself to Peter—and mention my show. The seed has been planted.
April 21, 2009
I e-mail Peter to ask if he’ll be on an upcoming show, only two weeks away. It’s a long shot, I know. Peter replies he’ll have family in town, politely declines. I almost suggest that he could bring his family to the show but think better of it.
September 28, 2009
I send another e-mail to Peter with another potential date. Again, a quick reply: He’ll be in L.A. then, recording Wait Wait. He makes the fatal mistake of saying: “Keep asking. Keep asking.”
September 28, November 18, November 24 & December 1, 2009
More e-mails to Peter: Will he be on my February show? Will he? Will he? No response. It seems I’ve gone too far.
December 1, 2009
Peter replies, applauds my “polite, unrelenting persistence,” and tells me he’d like to do the show but is away from his family too much as it is. I understand, I tell him. And this time I do invite him to bring his family.
Some day in June 2010
I’m at the pool in Oak Park, teaching my son to swim. And there’s Sagal . . . with his kids! I tell my son he’s on his own and swim over to Peter. We chat. The show comes up (that is, I bring it up). The seed has been replanted.
Some day in August 2010
My family is at brunch in Wicker Park. And there’s Sagal . . . with his kids . . . and wife . . . and other people! What to do? Our eyes meet. Something is different. I feel it. He comes over. We chat. The show comes up. He says I should e-mail him with dates!
August 18, 2010
I e-mail Peter a date.
August 21, 2010
He writes: He can’t do it then. Uh-oh. Here we go again.
August 21 & August 26, 2010
I reply with more dates. I resend my e-mail. I get out my swimsuit in case I don’t hear from him.
August 26, 2010
Peter replies. December 3rd works! Repeat: December 3rd works! I pump my fists. I do a little dance. I sit down and compose an e-mail to the WXRT host Lin Brehmer to see if he wants to be on the January show.
Photograph: Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune