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Not My Job: Mandy Patinkin Is Big Into TikTok So We Quiz Him On Clocks

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

I don't know if anybody had more fun during the pandemic than Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody. The married actors started doing videos at the urging of their son and became social media stars just by being hilariously themselves.

BILL KURTIS: Peter began by asking Mandy, after four decades of performing, what role is he most recognized for?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

MANDY PATINKIN: I would say the most common - aren't you that guy from "The Princess Bride" is probably the thing that happens the most.

SAGAL: Right. Now, for people who don't know, of course, you played Inigo Montoya, progenitor of the famous line - do you want to go ahead and say it?

PATINKIN: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

HELEN HONG: (Screaming).

MO ROCCA: And we're done.

SAGAL: Yeah, we're done.

JOSH GONDELMAN: That's it, you guys. We're going home.

HONG: Oh, my - I'm so done. I'm screaming.

SAGAL: (Laughter) There are worse things to be known for. That movie came out - God, I was just out of college. It was the late '80s - '88, around there. And it is still hugely popular. Did you guys have any idea when you made that that this was going to be, like, this cultural touchstone for, like, the rest of your lives?

PATINKIN: Oh, God, no. It was - I certainly had fun. You know, William Goldman wrote the greatest sword fighter ever, so I had the task of learning to be a sword fighter, which was sort of like a sporting event - very much like a sporting event. And that was my job. And...

HONG: While wearing that bomb-ass wig.

PATINKIN: Yeah, I had - well, actually, back then, I - half - three-quarters of it was my own hair. No, no, no, no.

HONG: What?

PATINKIN: I'm sorry. I'm wrong about that. It was called a three-quarter wig.

SAGAL: Right.

PATINKIN: So the front part was my own.

(LAUGHTER)

PATINKIN: And I wish I had it now (laughter). But then the movie came out, and nobody saw it. It just - you know, it came and left. And then I heard that other movies had that similar treatment, like "The Wizard Of Oz" and many other films. And then people in college started watching it, and they told their kids, and their kids told their kids. And then all of a sudden, it became what it became.

ROCCA: Can I talk to you about your musical theater life?

PATINKIN: No.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: But you have to. You have to let me do this...

PATINKIN: All right.

ROCCA: ...Because you don't know this, but when I was 12, we had a very intense relationship. I learned every single lyric of the musical "Evita." I became obsessed with it. And I didn't know how professional theater worked. And one day, it dawned on me. What if Mandy Patinkin is sick one night and can't be in the show, and people show up? And I know all the lyrics to Che. I need him to know that he can get in touch with me in case he needs to take the night off so all those people aren't disappointed, and I can be a 12-year-old Che Guevara in "Evita." So I just want you to know that I'm available.

PATINKIN: Your mother had called me about this years ago. I've had your number in my book ever since. I tried to get you twice, and you were busy.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Mo, do you still know the lyrics to the Che part in "Evita"?

ROCCA: (Singing) Oh, what a circus. Oh, what a show. Argentina has gone to town over the death of an actress called Eva Peron.

You can take it from here.

(LAUGHTER)

PATINKIN: (Singing) We've all gone crazy, mourning all day and mourning all night, falling over ourselves to get all...

ROCCA: (Singing) Falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right.

SAGAL: I'm not going to say a word.

HONG: Wow.

ROCCA: (Singing) But who is this Santa Evita?

(LAUGHTER)

PATINKIN: Ladies and gentlemen, Mo Rocca.

SAGAL: Every thought I had in preparation for this interview has flown out of my head now. We have to talk about your latest form of fame, which is you've become a viral internet star on TikTok. I've seen some of the early ones that you did with your wife, Kathryn.

PATINKIN: Yeah.

SAGAL: And it seems as if you have no idea what your son has gotten you involved in.

PATINKIN: Well, that's fairly true on any given day at any given moment.

(LAUGHTER)

PATINKIN: It is all because of our son Gideon, who has this enjoyment of taking out his cellphone and asking us questions for, I would assume - family archives is what he often says. And so that's what we would do. And then we had a fight on our - what anniversary was it, honey?

KATHRYN GRODY: The 42nd anniversary of our first date.

PATINKIN: Forty-second anniversary of our first date. I stopped at a forsythia tree, and he asked us what's going on. And she said, well, we just had a fight. It was our anniversary. We had a fight. And then Kathryn talked about it. And the next thing he said - can we put this out on your social media, which we began to - with the International Rescue Committee to highlight the plight of refugees and help them have a new beginning. That was the whole purpose of our social media. And Gideon hijacked that. And so that's how it began.

SAGAL: I - it seems as if Kathryn is there with you. Why don't you bring her on then?

PATINKIN: Yes, it is - I recommend for everyone - you should tell your guests, never do an interview without your family members around.

GONDELMAN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: We're joined now by Kathryn. Hello. How are you?

GRODY: Hello. Hello, everyone.

SAGAL: So you guys are now influencers. You're TikTok influencers.

GRODY: I mean, honestly, to this moment - no insult to the young people that love TikTok - I, honest to God, do not understand it. It makes Twitter look like Shakespeare. I don't even know how to find TikTok. I don't even know how to find Instagram. I'm completely, you know...

GONDELMAN: Happy.

SAGAL: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

GONDELMAN: Well-adjusted.

SAGAL: That's the word you were searching for. You did have - you had your anniversary of your first date 42 years ago?

GRODY: Yeah, yeah. It's extraordinary.

SAGAL: We heard a story - I don't know if it's true - that - something to the effect that, Mandy, you said to Kathryn on your first date, I'm going to marry you.

GRODY: Yeah.

PATINKIN: Yes. And then I believe she said to me with her finger up like this, pointing at me, you don't know what you're talking about. And I went click. I took a picture of it. And I - she said, you're an actor and a baby, and you're going to get hurt. And I said, that's OK. Now, she's pulling her hair out of her head...

GRODY: Oh, my God. It's all right.

PATINKIN: ...Because no matter what story I tell about this, it's the wrong version.

GRODY: No, we don't have time on this program for...

GONDELMAN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Kathryn, your rebuttal?

GRODY: Michael Weller, who wrote the play, came up to me. And he said, what do you think about Mandy? And I said, oh, he's great. Wait a minute. You mean for me, personally? I said, forget it. He's an actor. He's a baby. He's a little bit crazy. No, the next person I'm with is going to be the father of my children, and he's not it.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

GRODY: He was 25 years old. I was 31. I mean, he was a baby.

PATINKIN: We wanted to use this occasion to tell you that Mo Rocca is actually the father of our children.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: What's amazing about you, Kathryn - and I want to say I genuinely admire this. Even though when you're telling a story about how you were completely mistaken about something, you're still the smarter person.

GRODY: Well, about memory, yes.

PATINKIN: No, no. She is the smartest person. She's the smartest one in the family.

GRODY: Oh, God. That is so not true.

PATINKIN: It is so true. It is true. It is true.

(LAUGHTER)

GONDELMAN: Kathryn, you deserve at least 50% credit. You said, the next person I'm with will be the father of my children, and he won't be you. And you were half right. I think that counts for something.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Mandy Patinkin, it's great to talk to you. And, Kathryn, you, too. But we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

CHIOKE I'ANSON: Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.

SAGAL: So you are TikTok stars now, so we thought we'd ask you three questions about the original TikTok stars, which are clocks. Get two questions about clocks right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anyone they might choose for their voicemail. Chioke, who is Mandy Patinkin and, may I say, Kathryn Grody, playing for?

I'ANSON: Danny Rosen (ph) of West Hartford, Conn.

SAGAL: Here we go. Here's your first question. Before the invention of inexpensive clocks, people in Britain had to manage their time in different ways, including which of these - A, killing a mouse every morning and then telling time during the day by how badly it was smelling; B, hiring people to walk the streets of the city in the morning and wake them up by shooting at their windows with peashooters; or C, getting out of meetings by saying, oh, I'm sorry, I have a witch burning to get to?

GRODY: Peashooting.

PATINKIN: Peashooting? What was the...

GRODY: Shooting at the windows?

PATINKIN: OK. Yeah, that sounds right.

SAGAL: That's the answer.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Congratulations. That's the right one.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: These human alarm clocks were called knocker-uppers. That was the name of the job. They used peashooters, at least in one instance.

GRODY: Knocker-uppers.

SAGAL: Sometimes they used canes or clubs to bang on the windows to get people up in time to get to work.

GRODY: Wow.

SAGAL: Next question - clocks are not beloved everywhere. In fact, schools in the U.K. announced they were removing clocks from classrooms. Why? A, students were stealing the clock hands and stabbing each other with them; B, to prevent students from yelling 10, nine, eight, et cetera, as the period came to a close; or C, because students are simply no longer able to tell time.

PATINKIN: Oh, wow.

GRODY: C.

PATINKIN: There you go.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: That's exactly it. They - students can no longer read analog clocks, so they're just removing them from classrooms.

GRODY: Oh, my God.

SAGAL: I know. All right, here's your last question. People pretend to hate daylight savings time, but most don't know the origin of daylight savings time. Was it A, Ben Franklin invented it as a joke; B, Mussolini came up with it 'cause he couldn't figure out how else to get the trains to run on time; or C, Napoleon invented it so his army would always surprise the other side by getting there one hour early?

PATINKIN: I'm pretty sure it's Ben Franklin.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It is Ben Franklin.

GRODY: (Laughter).

PATINKIN: I knew it. I knew it.

SAGAL: He sent a letter to the editor when he was in Paris as ambassador, saying that, hey, if we all get up when the sun rises and go to bed when it sets, we'll all save money on candles. Ha, ha, ha.

PATINKIN: There you go.

SAGAL: Chioke, how did Mandy Patinkin and his wife Kathryn Grody do on our quiz?

I'ANSON: After more than 40 years in show business and more than 40 years of marriage, I think it's safe to say this is the high point.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody, you're celebrated actors, singers, writers and surprise TikTok stars. You can find them both on TikTok - @mandypatinkin (ph). Thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

GRODY: Enjoy yourselves, guys. Stay safe. Be well.

PATINKIN: Bye.

GONDELMAN: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH WHAT A CIRCUS")

PATINKIN: (As Che Guevara, singing) Oh, what a circus. Oh, what a show.

SAGAL: When we come back, our panelists show your kids how it's possible to have fun all on your own and the best band ever to play Canter's delicatessen. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.