In this episode of the Wait Wait… We’ve had a lot of impressive people as our guests on this show … Nobel Prize winners, senators, governors, and two presidents of the United States. But now, for the first time ever, we are honored to welcome a Lord of Immortality, a Keeper of Perfect Health for the World.
We’ve invited writer and physician Deepak Chopra to play a game called “Yes, we Cannes!” The Cannes Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday, and that means one thing: NPR hosts pronouncing “Cannes” 18 different ways. While Cannes gets a lot of press, one thing you don’t hear much about is the Marche du Film, where new, not-necessarily-great films get bought and sold. We’ll ask Chopra three questions about titles up for sale.
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PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we ask very wise people about very silly things. We’ve had a lot of impressive people as our guests on this show: Nobel Prize winners, senators, governors, two presidents. But today, for the first time ever, we are honored to welcome a man who has the titles Lord of Immortality and a keeper of perfect health for the world. That would be Dr. Deepak Chopra, of course. Deepak, welcome to WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME!
SAGAL: So first things first, I knew a lot about you, best-selling author, extraordinarily influential physician of the mind and body. I did not know you were a lord of immortality. That was a title you got from whom exactly?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: It was from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the person who brought transcendental meditation to the world.
SAGAL: Right. And what sort of privileges does being a lord of immortality get you?
CHOPRA: Nobody takes you seriously.
KEN JENNINGS: Forever.
JENNINGS: In the singles scene, can you go up to someone and be like: How would you like to be the lady of immortality? Does that work?
CHOPRA: Well, it does work sometimes.
SAGAL: All right, well, there you go.
SAGAL: You’ve done so much, and you’re so well-known, but we were trying to think of a quick way to describe you, and one of the terms that came up was new age guru. Do you like that, or is that not right for you?
CHOPRA: Why don’t you spell guru?
CHOPRA: You’ve got it, gee, you are you.
JENNINGS: Holy cow. My mind is expanding.
AMY DICKINSON: I know, whoa.
JENNINGS: I understand all those terrible George Harrison songs.
ROY BLOUNT JR.: I never really was me before, and now…
SAGAL: I feel better already. One thing I found out about you that I did not know, and I’m ashamed for not knowing this, is that before you started your career in Eastern medicine and alternative medicine, you were an extremely accomplished physician. You were…
CHOPRA: I still am.
SAGAL: Excuse me.
CHOPRA: I still am.
SAGAL: All right, I’m getting into trouble here.
CHOPRA: I studied medicine, endocrinology. I keep my license in Massachusetts and California. So I’m both an internist and a witch doctor at the same time.
SAGAL: How does one dress as a combination internist and witch doctor?
CHOPRA: Well, the witch doctor doesn’t dress at all.
SAGAL: Oh, no. Now how did – so how did you make that transition? Were you dissatisfied with Western medicine? Did you just feel it wasn’t providing enough for your patients?
CHOPRA: My training was in neuro-endocrinology, which is the study of brain chemicals.
CHOPRA: So in the ’70s when I was a fellow, it became obvious to me that there was a connection between what happens in our mind, in our consciousness, in our biology. I can give you high blood pressure just on the phone by criticizing you. On the other hand, I can send a tweet to somebody in China and give them a dopamine hit.
SAGAL: Yeah, oh I see what you mean, that you actually, through emotional, well, just interaction with people, you could affect their brain chemistry is what you’re saying.
CHOPRA: That’s right.
SAGAL: OK, let’s try this. I have a black eye, I whacked my head, I’ve had a pretty bad week in general. Can you make me feel better?
CHOPRA: Give yourself another black eye.
CHOPRA: Because then you’ll say things can’t get worse, and you’ll accept that.
SAGAL: Peter, why are you whacking yourself in the head? Well, Deepak Chopra told me to.
CHOPRA: And besides, it’s all an illusion anyway.
SAGAL: What’s an illusion?
CHOPRA: The whole material world. It doesn’t actually exist. Matter is not material. It’s made up of atoms that are moving at lightning speeds around huge empty spaces. So as you go beyond the appearance of molecules, you end up with a subatomic world, and if you go beyond that you end up with nothing. Nothing is the source of everything.
JR.: But most people can’t make a living like that.
CHOPRA: I’ve made a living for 35 years selling words.
SAGAL: That’s true. We wanted to ask you about a bunch of things because you get grouped in with a lot of other people in a lot of different kinds of alternative medicine. And I wanted to see what you thought of certain things you’ve heard of and whether you think these things have any value. For example, the Neti pot. You know, this is the pot you pour water through your nostrils.
CHOPRA: Yeah, yeah, the Neti pot is very useful in people who have bronchospasm or have chronic sinus irritation, and it’s now become very available in almost every drugstore.
SAGAL: Isn’t it really bizarre, though, to pour water in your nostril and have it come out the other one?
CHOPRA: You brush your teeth, don’t you, every day?
SAGAL: Yeah, but that’s not my nostril.
SAGAL: All right, how about aromatherapy?
CHOPRA: Aromatherapy is extremely useful. If you want to go to sleep at night, and you have an aroma that calms your mind, it will help you sleep. It’s very useful for things like hypertension, anxiety, psychosomatic disorders, irritable bowel syndrome.
DICKINSON: You know what I do to quiet my cravings, doctor? Donuts.
JENNINGS: You just smell them?
DICKINSON: Donuts, no, I ingest them.
SAGAL: All right one more thing. How about that head-on headache medicine, apply directly to the forehead? That seems compelling.
CHOPRA: Head-on headache medicine, I never heard of that.
SAGAL: You never saw that, the ads with, like, apply directly to the forehead, apply directly to the forehead.
JENNINGS: I’m actually happy that Dr. Deepak Chopra does not know infomercials.
SAGAL: Yeah, I know, that’s important.
SAGAL: We want to ask you, you seem, you know, in your many, many books, in the appearances you do, very calm, very understanding. Is there anything that totally flips you out, that just makes you mad?
CHOPRA: Not really. I can’t remember the last time that happened to me.
JENNINGS: Let’s see if we can try.
SAGAL: All right, let’s go for it.
SAGAL: All right, you’re a frequent guest on Oprah. Have you considered…
CHOPRA: Yeah, in fact if she married me, she could be Oprah Chopra.
SAGAL: Or you could be Deepak Winfrey, but that wouldn’t be as funny, I guess.
CHOPRA: Well, that wouldn’t be funny.
SAGAL: Well, Dr. Deepak Chopra, we’re delighted to talk to you, and we’ve invited you here today to play a game we’re calling…
BILL KURTIS: Yes We Cannes.
SAGAL: The Cannes Film Festival was last week, and that means one thing: NPR hosts pronouncing Cannes 18 different ways: Cannes, Cannes, Cannes. But one thing you don’t hear about is the Marche. That’s where new, not necessarily great films get bought and sold outside of the big competition.
We’re going to ask you about three titles, real movies that were sold or up for sale at the film festival. Get two questions right, you win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell’s voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Deepak Chopra playing for?
KURTIS: Akil and Monica Vohra of Washington, D.C.
SAGAL: All right, ready? Now cop films are always big. Which of these was up for sale? Was it: A, “Coposites,” like “Freaky Friday” but with a cop and a criminal who switch bodies; B, an action thriller about a homeless detective called “Hobocop.”
SAGAL: Or C, a tear-jerker police romance called “Copping A Feeling.”
CHOPRA: I’ll go for B.
SAGAL: You’re going to go for B, and action thriller about a homeless detective called “Hobocop.”
CHOPRA: That’s right.
SAGAL: No, actually it was “Coposites” with the cop and the criminal.
SAGAL: “Coposites,” there you are. Now you always need a good disaster movie for your theater or cable channel. And you could have bought which of these at Cannes? Was it: A, “Sharknado,” in which Los Angeles is hit by tornadoes of sharks.
SAGAL: B, “The Day Before Tomorrow,” about a volcano that erupts on an asteroid headed for a preschool.
SAGAL: Or C – let me see if I can do this right – “Drizzle.” Who will rise up to save us when it lightly rains for days?
SAGAL: You’re going to go for B, “The Day Before Tomorrow,” which is about a volcano that erupts on an asteroid that’s headed straight for a preschool?
CHOPRA: I’ll go for B. I’m just guessing.
SAGAL: All right. No, I’m afraid it was “Sharknado,” about…
SAGAL: Tornadoes of sharks. The tagline is: Enough said. All right, last chance, let’s see if we can get you a right answer here. You may remember the 1996 horror movie called “Santa Claws,” that’s C-L-A-W-S. Now there is a brand new movie up for sale this year with that same title, “Santa Claws,” C-L-A-W-S.
KURTIS: What is the plot this time: A, Santa has to claw himself out from clinical depression; B, Christmas is nearly ruined when Santa decides to finally deliver kittens as presents and has a severe allergic reaction; or C, Santa is a werewolf, and he eats all the reindeer except Rudolph.
CHOPRA: C, I’ll go for C.
SAGAL: You’re going to go for C, Santa’s eating all the reindeer, he’s hunting down – I love it.
SAGAL: He’s hunting down – I love it. He’s hunting down Rudolph, and Rudolph is like, damn it, my nose, it’s too bright.
JENNINGS: I like that we’re seeing the kind of movies that Dr. Chopra would want to see.
SAGAL: I understand that.
SAGAL: No actually, it was B, Christmas is nearly ruined when Santa tries to give kittens, and he has an allergic reaction. But then the kittens save Christmas or something. Bill, how did Deepak Chopra do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Well, in the material world…
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
KURTIS: But since it’s all an illusion anyway, let’s…
CHOPRA: Lords of immortality will always fail in the material world.
SAGAL: That’s true.
SAGAL: Deepak Chopra’s new book is “Brotherhood,” co-written with his brother. He’s hosting the upcoming Sages and Scientists Symposium. You can find more information at the choprafoundation.org. Deepak Chopra, a pleasure to speak to you. Thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME!
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill shows off his slap shot in our Listener Limerick Challenge. That’s 1-800-Wait-Wait to join us on the air.
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