Chatting with Michael Feldman reveals he knows a little about a lot.
Milwaukee-born Michael Feldman is celebrating his 30th season of making audiences and listeners laugh and waste away their Saturday morns (well, at least this listener for the latter) through his radio show, “Whad’Ya Know?” Heard locally on Wisconsin Public Radio’s WHAD-FM 90.7, he’s bringing his wry wit to the Pabst Theater on April 25. In addition to the famous quiz and a song or two from former BoDean Sam Llanas, he’ll chat with Mayor Tom Barrett and Mike Romans of Romans’ Pub during the performance. We took some time out of his Twitter habit to pepper him with questions about the show and his Milwaukee roots.
If I have it right, you are originally from Milwaukee, correct?
And how often do you get back to these parts, either with the show or on your own?
Hardly ever. You know my family is all dispersed. So they’re all gone. And the house has now fallen into disrepair. My brother Howard, the last time he was in town, went back, it’s at 58th and Center, and there was a guy sleeping in the yard and not on a lounger or anything. I don’t even go back anymore.
Are there any efforts to preserve it as the childhood home of Michael Feldman?
[Laughs] Uh, next question. We’re hoping to get a plaque there. I was hoping the guy on the lawn could carry a plaque or something.
Do you still get together with your siblings?
We do. We went to New Orleans last year. We’re supposed to go to New York this year. But I want to get them to go to Havana because my brother Clayton had been in Havana before it fell, if that’s the word, back in the ’50s with the Civil Air Patrol or something like that. It would be a wonderful denouement. That’s not the word, either. But that would be so cool.
OK, on to politics. Any thoughts on the candidates who’ve entered the 2016 race?
I’m surprised Hillary is running again. That came out of nowhere. I don’t know. Her logo is bad. Everyone is giving her a hard time. It’s like “Hospital is this way” kind of sign. It’s little things like that that can really bring a campaign down.
Do you ever find yourself entering the voting booth and thinking about the potential for material?
You know we don’t have booths anymore. I don’t know if you’ve been in a while. There’s just these little things and a felt-tip pen. And they’re really not even very private. But do I think what?
Do you think about the potential for material?
No. I’ve occasionally thought about running, because a lot of them are unopposed. And I always feel bad. Should I fill it in? The guy’s unopposed; it doesn’t seem democratic. Or I could write myself in, but can you do that? I don’t know. But yeah, no, material is all around us. There’s a quote.
Aside from press interviews, what occupies your time in between Saturdays?
Actually, we got a new puppy. My puggle died, and that was a real setback emotionally for me in January. So now we got this little dog, it’s a beagapoo or a poogle. It’s supposed to be half-poodle. Well, not half; roughly half. And roughly half of a beagle, which really is like a brontosaurus with the wrong head on it. But she’s pulling me around. She’s a maniac. I forgot about puppies. She’s out in the world a lot. She’s very outgoing. So it’s mostly dog care is what I’m saying.
And I also see that you take a little time to post to Twitter.
I do. I got stop that. It’s so stupid. My last Twitter was, “I think they should call it fritter.” Because it’s like cracking your knuckles used to be. People Twitter now instead of cracking their knuckles. And they’re just talking to themselves. It’s really embarrassing. I only did because I thought I could work up some material. But then people write back to you about all this stuff. These are one-liners. You don’t answer one-liners. You don’t have to like them or anything. I’m not saying you do. But don’t correct my humor, if that’s what it is. I just thought of this and thought everyone should know.
And for those of us attending the show at the Pabst, are there any tips to getting selected to take part in the quiz?
If you look very needy, there’s a good chance I’ll pick you.