I am Mo Rocca. AMA!
Hi, Reddit. Mo Rocca here. You know me from The Daily Show and my cooking show My Grandmother's Ravioli.
I'm shooting my new CBS Saturday morning show Innovation Nation at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan outside of Detroit. We premiere Saturday morning, September 27th.
Here’s some proof. Now ask me anything!
EDIT: Okey-dokey, I'm heading back to set here at The Henry Ford Museum. I hope that you give Innovation Nation a look this Saturday morning on CBS. THANK YOU for your thoughtful questions. This was a very nice experience for me. (Er, more like a "good" experience. "Nice" is an anemic word. As Sondheim wrote in Into The Woods, "Nice is different than good.")
You know, I need to get Carl to recording my outgoing message. Peter IS cool. He rides a motorcycle. He's the best thing to happen to baldness since Telly Savalas.
You've had such a varied (and awesome) career--Wishbone, Daily Show, My Grandmother's Ravioli, CBS, Wait, Wait. How have you managed to make it in so many outlets with so many interests? Were there any times when you doubted yourself?
This is a flattering question. At times I've done many projects (sometimes simultaneously) precisely because I did doubt myself. But for the most part, I've always been that guy that preferred the variety pack of cereals. I liked exploring lots of different things.
That's changed over time. (My cooking show is the fullest expression of my skills and interests. Writing for Wishbone remains my most formative experience. It's where I learned to tell a story.)
But I can say that I don't ever regret doing so many projects. When you can't answer that annoying question, "What exactly do you want to do?" - and I never could - then the next best thing you can do is Pollacking (as in Jackson): throw a bunch of things against the wall and see what sticks.
Do you know how to make ravioli?
Not yet. The last episode of My Grandmother's Ravioli will feature me making ravioli. Then, as I leave the kitchen and walk toward camera, the kitchen behind me will blow up.
Hey Mo! Have you ever had lice? You have such great hair, I'd think they love hanging out in there!
Thank you, my hair has never looked better. (Hint: I'm not shampooing every day.) I did have lice when I was in 4th grade but that was only because I used Prell. And lice love Prell.
Hi from Ann Arbor. What is something you were afraid to eat, but actually like?
In Hermosillo, Mexico: an eyeball taco
What is Innovation Nation anyway?
Well I'm so glad you asked. Innovation Nation is a wonderful new show I am hosting on CBS Saturday Mornings. It's about the great inventors of the past and the current innovations inspired by them. Much of it takes place at the AMAZING Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. As someone who grew up in DC, I can tell you that the Henry Ford is every bit as cool as the Smithsonian.
Can you ask VH1 to bring back I Love The ... ??
I would love to do I Love the 90s ... the 1890s. I'm a big history buff. I've got great material on William McKinley and the Gibson Girl.
You are my very favorite panelist on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!! Thanks for doing the AMA
Which panelist do you enjoy working with the most on Wait Wait? Who was your favorite celebrity guest to play Not My Job?
I really like all the panelists. Maybe we get along so well because: 1. We're all in different parts of the business. 2. We see each other every few weeks so it's always nice to catch up.
Dick Van Dyke was my favorite guest.
How many push-ups can you do?
About 30. I do this before I leave the house, even if it's just to buy milk. I spell long words out - one letter per pushup - so that I don't think about the pain. Words like "Tajikistani" or "Azerbainjani". Central Asian countries are very useful when working out.
Do you go by "Mo" to make your name sound like "maraca"?
Hey Mo, How was it working with Jon?
I learned a whole lot. Maybe the hardest working person I've met. He had a vision for the show as a whole, not simply as a vehicle for himself. Otherwise pretty normal. He's not the weird comic hiding away, then turning "on" for the camera.
Jay Z has a clothing line called RocaWear. Are you planning an endorsement deal? Free clothing for life, bro.
(sigh) okay, if Jay Z insists....
I see that you were involved with Pepper Ann?! That's such a throwback, how much involvement did you have writing that?
LOVED WRITING FOR PEPPER ANN. I got to make a Johnnie Cochran reference in one episode!
Seriously, how hard is it to tie a bow-tie? I've never tried...
Also, I've noticed a passing similarity in looks between you and Reza Aslan; do you moonlight on weekends or something?
Funny. I believe that Jon Stewart called Reza the Muslim Mo Rocca. Tying a bowtie is tricky. Hard to know what hole to push it through.
The "it" being the cloth.
Where do you keep "mini-Mo"?
Not in my bedroom. ("mini-Mo" is the Barbie doll that Mattel made for me.)
What was your favorite part of doing Best Week Ever and all of the other VH1 nostalgia shows all those years ago?
I loved that I finally had a repository for all the pop culture junk that was crowding my skull for all those years. It literally was starting to hurt. So spewing it out during all those VH1 shows was a relief.
Do you study before a taping of "Wait, Wait?"
No. If you go in with a joke, it's bound to fail. The show is always funnier when the panelists are spontaneous. The audience can sniff out a rehearsed joke and they like it.
Why did you grow your hair longer as you got older? Most people have longer hair in their teens/20s before they have to cut it off to look more corporate. Why the change?
I wanted to see how it would look. One thing's for sure: I'll never dye it. Men should not dye their hair. There, I've said it.
Hello! Do you envision having your career ever gravitating towards scripted comedy (in movies and TV sitcoms), like former Daily Show correspondants Steve Carrell, Ed Helms, and Rob Riggle?
(Not that we don't like your comedic journalism pieces for CBS Sunday Morning...)
Hell yeah, I'd love that. I do love doing CBS Sunday Morning (like going back to college and taking only electives) and I am LOVING doing Innovation Nation, WHICH PREMIERES THIS SATURDAY MORNING ON CBS!!
What are some of the most memorable moments you had on the Daily Show? Your favourite animal?
I loved doing a piece on the epidemic of rogue cocks on the streets of Key West.
I know you've done a lot of work for Animal Planet. Are Puppy Bowl participants better behaved than NFL players?
Not the chihuahuas. (Wait a sec, are chihuahuas actually dogs?)
What's your favorite animal?
I love the way kangaroos have babies.
Hi Mo! I'm a huge fan and I wanted to thank you for your segment about the Freemasons on CBS Sunday Morning.
As a young Mason, I thought it was a really honest look at what the fraternity is (becoming) today.
Were you at all inclined to become a Mason during filming? Any interesting stories about the experience?
I liked everyone I met doing the Masons story. If I didn't travel so much ... if i weren't so busy ... I'd consider joining a fraternal organization.
Beatles or Stones? And why?
I kind of still love the Monkees.
If you could only watch one television show from now until forever, what would it be?
The Mary Tyler Moore Show or All in the Family
Hey Mo! How do you embrace your inner nerd?? Can't wait to see the premiere of Innovation Nation, man!
Yes, I've learned to like what I like, not what I think I should like. And please do tune into Innovation Nation. It's a tribute to the people who changed the world by embracing THEIR inner nerds!
I had the pleasure of seeing you on Broadway in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - what was your favorite part of doing live theatre?
Oops, I thought I answered this. I LOVED being on Broadway and it must happen again. I should be Hysterium in Forum! And I would love to play Skimbleshanks the railway cat in Cats. He's a very underrated cat.
I love you on CBS This Morning. have you ever been asked to host the entire two hours before?
No. Can you believe it? :) But Charlie Rose and I will one day do Amazing Race together. He does not know this yet.
Do you use Reddit very often? Are you active under a user name, just a reader, or not at all?
First time user
Love your work, Mo! What songs have you been listening to lately?
I can't stop listening to Dusty Springfield's cover of the Windmills of My Mind.
Will you take over for Charles Osgood one day?
I'm be lucky to tune Charlie's piano for him! (Wait a minute, that sounds kind of raunchy.)
What is the weirdest thing in your apartment?
The giant bust of Grover Cleveland.
How many KU/KSU shirts do you own?
ONE FOR EACH. Not playing favorites. We don't need any more Bleeding Kansas.
What are some interview tips and strategies?
How to get the subject to agree to it in the first place
talk freely and for a good amount of time
Listen aggressively. I always feel good in an interview when a few minutes in the interviewee stops spewing talking points and looks at me with an expression that says "Oh, you're actually LISTENING to me? I don't need to tell you the same things I just told 35 other reporters."
Who has been your favorite family on My Grandmother's Ravioli?
That would be like choosing my favorite child! (And when I do have children, I'll be sure to do another reddit AMA and let you know which kid is my favorite.)
What is your favorite sandwich?
If I were to shake you, would you make that cool hollow, bean-rattling noise?
If you do it right, I'll purr.
Could you compare your lifestyle with a career outside of media? Do you live like a small town doctor, a big city banker, a mechanic, a college prof? Just curious what a recognizable and well-employed, but not monstrously well-paid, person in the national media lives like?
Like a magazine editor if magazine editors were paid like plumbers. I have no complaints.
Huge fan! Due to the nature of my schedule, I don't often get to catch you on TV, but I'm a big fan of your humor and speaking style. However, I do a lot of driving for work, so I have to ask, have you ever considered hosting a regular podcast? That way I could get more Mo in my life!
It's a great idea, thanks. I become concerned about spreading myself too thin, though. But I'll think about it! Hope you can tune into my new show - Innovation Nation - this Saturday morning on CBS.
Are you more of a taco guy or a burrito guy?
Also, what is your go to movie?
I love A Place in the Sun. I used to love chimichangas.
How has cultural 'sensitivity' evolved in the last 15 years?
Well cultural sensitivity is a good thing. But cultural "sensitivity" only leads to more tiptoeing around issues that people should talk LESS carefully about. And that means more bottled up emotions. (I'm very proud that on My Grandmother's Ravioli, the featured grandparents are NOT censored. They're not afraid. Why should the audience be?)
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I used to like Daiquiri Ice. Now I like Butter Pecan.
I am a half-Colombian guy who knows the capital of every country of the world and saw the musical Cats over 40 times (I was an usher at the theater) and hopes to do a back-handspring WITHOUT A SPOTTER before I die. I like projects where I can learn stuff. I like sushi.
Mo, I only know you from Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and I just wanted to say that I enjoy your contributions to that show!
Is Peter Sagal as cool as he sounds? Do you have Carl Kasell's voice on your answering machine?!
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