Michael Feldman Comes Clean
The host of Whad’Ya Know?, performed live at the Pabst Saturday, grills himself about his upbringing in Milwaukee.
Sure, you probably already know that Whad’Ya Know? is the long-running (since 1985, good grief) nationally broadcast radio show originating in Madison by Wisconsin Public Radio. You probably know it’s hosted by Milwaukee native and quipster Michael Feldman who takes the show (literally) on the road to various cities where he interviews local celebrities and experts, chats with live studio audiences and quizzes contestants vying for various prizes. And yes, he interacts with show’s jazz combo, pianist John Thulin and bassist Jeff Hamann. “Just as Feldman’s quickness and comedic rhythms are reminiscent of Groucho Marx,” Wikipedia notes, “the game is reminiscent of Marx’s You Bet Your Life quiz show in that it is designed more to give the host a chance to interact with the players than to be a serious test of their knowledge.” Meaning you probably won’t learn much.
For the Saturday show at the Pabst Theater (Doors open 8:30 a.m., show at 9:30 a.m.) Feldman’s special guests will include that well-known humorist, Mayor Tom Barrett, musician Sam Llanas and Mike Romans of Roman’s Pub. Urban Milwaukee looked for someone to interview Mr. Feldman about his homecoming of sorts and finally decided that only Mr. Feldman was up to the task. We gingerly broached the idea with him and received this answer: “Feldman is a bit of a recluse but I believe I can get to him.” The resulting interview, you might say, speaks for himself.
Question: Talking to yourself is one thing, but talking to you quite another. You want to quit and just crib something out of our wiki page?
Answer: The one we put up and they took down because they know us better than we know us?
Q: That one. What would glean from that?
A: Maybe the myriad of awards, honors and citations without making it sound like that’s what I did it all for.
Q: Honors, awards, accolades, casual references: too many to mention, I’m sure.
A: Yes, especially after just recently being hermetically sealed into the Washington High School Wall of Fame amidst the likes of Bud Selig, Herb Kohl and what’s his name from Young Frankenstein.
A: Never get tired of that one, do we. Best when they actually think you’re a dead bug-eyed British comic.
Q: Left side. The hump.
A: Right. Gene Wilder, known as Jerome Silberman along Sherman Blvd, because, at Ellis or possibly Jones Island, officials heard Silberman as Wilder.
Q: All part of the Milwaukee School, along with the Zuckers, Nat Hiken (Sgt. Bilko) Liberace and our brother Howard, in there for inventing the Milwaukee School. More lifetime achievement for Howie.
A: A ton of affirmation nestled atop Categories: 1949 live births | Still living people | Non National Public Radio personalities | American dry humorists | Jewish American writers and scribblers | People generally associated with Madison, Wisconsin | People from Milwaukee | People from Around Here | Beth Jehuda Hebrew School (Twerski’s) boys | Wm T Let’s See If She Burns Elementary School K-6 | Baron von Steuben Jr. High| Washington High School Spanish club 4 semesters | UWM freshman honor society | University of Wisconsin-Madison season ticket holder | Wisconsin Public Radio | United States radio people | Inventor screw-in fluorescent tube . . .
Q: You did not invent the screw-in fluorescent tube.
A: Working model, no, idea, yes. Just couldn’t get past how do you screw in a 4 foot long tube.
Q: Any others honors you want to mention?
A: To cherry pick, have to say the Kiwanis Speaker Appreciation Trophy (pictured here) coveted Peabody Hotel Duck Captain duck walker, Memphis, the Neenah (WI) Foundry Personalized Manhole Cover, he whose hands and most of one sleeve are pressed into the Celebrity Walk of Fame, Fargo Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau Center, Fargo, ND, and thrower of an, if not the, opening pitch, a one-hopper to the chest guard, prior to the West Virginia Power game at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston. I’m thinking 2008 or 9. Oh, and this brass Alvin, Texas, Brazoria County belt buckle handed me by Nolan Ryan hisself, although I can’t remember how that happened.
Q: All well and good, but I think they wanted something a little more heartfelt.
A: You cannot be handed a belt buckle from Nolan Ryan hisself and not feel something in here (tap, tap).
Q: OK, let’s free associate. Or maybe we should stop. I say ‘Milwaukee’ to you, you say . . .
A: Mahwaukee, Ouisconsin. Bubbler. Changing color weather bulb atop the Gas Company. Reddy Killowatt. Still get a charge out of him. My dad’s office in the Plankinton Arcade which had a full service game arcade in the basement! Dime machines! A pocket full of dimes your dad gives you if you go to work with him!
Q: Boston Store where you enter off Wisconsin Avenue into an acre of candy by the scoop displays with a mother who doesn’t mind buying circus peanuts for a kid with 32 teeth and 4 without cavities. Pneumatic tubes sucking things all over the building.
A: And the perplexing sign The Package You Take With You Arrives Today in shipping.
Q: I know so why take it with you if it’s already arriving.
A: And vice versa.
Q: What about Braves opening day where you just have to take your ticket to the office to get stamped to skip school!
A: Very progressive public schools.
Q: Except for the naked swimming in Washington’s little more than a wading pool.
A: Why, to this day we do not do the backstroke.