Top Ten Apps of 2010

Jan 5, 2011
Technology review and news site Ars Technica lists the This American Life iPhone app as one of the best in 2010. "Because $3 for on-demand access to an archive of over 400 excellent shows is a damn steal." Check out the full list here.

Holiday Cheer

Jan 4, 2011
In our Comedians of Comedy Christmas Special that aired a couple of weeks ago, we posited that "there aren't that many holiday jokes." We stand corrected. (Have a good one to add to the collection? Email us!)

From Chuck W:
Here's one from my Catholic Grammar School:

Q: What are Santa's helpers called?
A: Subordinate Clauses!

From Melissa B:
Rudolph the Red was a Viking. One day he was sitting with his wife, eating lunch, and he looked out the window. "Looks like it’s going to rain," he said. His wife looked out. "No way," she replied. Rudolph the Red stood and insisted, "Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear."

From Michael M:
When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where. Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered. Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom. Just then the doorbell rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?' And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

From Megan B:
Q: Where do gingerbread men sleep?
A: On cookie sheets!

Q: Why does Rudolph have an umbrella?
A: Because he's a rain-deer!

From anonymous:
Here is one I remember from my kidhood (told by a minister):

Did you hear they canceled Christmas?
Joseph confessed.

And then there's the song from the Smothers' Brothers:
You better not shout
you better not cry
you better not pout
I'm tellin' you why
Santa Claus is dead.

From Dan L:
Here's my favorite Christmas joke:

Q: What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
A: Do you smell carrots?

From Whitney A:
A man in Scotland calls his son in London the day before Christmas Eve and says, "I hate to ruin your day but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is long enough".

"Dad, what are you talking about?'" the son screams.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer", the father says.  "We're sick of each other and I'm sick of talking about this, so you can call your sister in Leeds and tell her".

Frantically, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone, "Like hell they're getting divorced", she shouts, "I'll take care of this".

She calls Scotland immediately and screams at her father, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back and we'll both be there tomorrow.  Until then, don't do a thing,  DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife.
"Done! They're coming for Christmas—and they're paying their own way."

Kenneth W. adds:
During the Christmas show, the child asked why the reindeer crossed the road and answered "to get to the antler station." I have some insight into this joke. Once I told my four-year-old daughter a joke I had heard on the joke episode of A Prairie Home Companion. Possibly it was told by Paula Poundstone: Why did the turtle cross the road? To get to the Shell station.

Whenever I ask this riddle to my daughter, she laughs, but I don't think she understands that Shell is a gasoline company that sells its products at Shell stations.. She simply thinks it funny for a turtle to go to a shell station.

Then she starts to ask her own riddles that she invents based on the animal station motif: Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the egg station. Why did the dog cross the road? Do get to the puppy station.  It goes on and on.

So when I heard that boy answer "to get to the antler station," I thought that the Shell station joke must have taken hold among children everywhere, and thus, he invented one of his own.

Well, It Is A Pretty Good Title

Jan 3, 2011
From Movie City News: "Was looking for examples of great poster art from 2010, and found THIS not-so-subtle Italian retitling of the Dave Eggers-Vendela Vida-Sam Mendes Away We Go."

The Talent Show: Next Wednesday at Littlefield

Dec 24, 2010
The Talent Show has another show coming up—on December 29th at Littlefield in Gowanus, Brooklyn—featuring This American Life producers Ira Glass and Jane Feltes, and regular contributor Dave Hill.

Show theme: "The Talent Show Presents: Presents." They're trying something that seems like it could be kind of amazing: A massive regifting gift swap involving the entire audience. BRING AN UNWANTED GIFT TO THE SHOW to swap for something you want a little more.

$5. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8. Tickets.

Photos from our holiday comedy show

Dec 22, 2010

Here are some pics from the holiday comedy show that we recorded at a club in Brooklyn called Littlefield. Photos by Alden Ford.

The sign outside of Littlefield
The sign outside of Littlefield

Download any episode for 99 cents on Amazon MP3

Dec 12, 2010

Download This American Life on Amazon MP3

All of our episodes are now available for download from Amazon MP3. Just 99 cents each. And to celebrate, you can download one of our Christmas episodes for free!

Episodes are also available on iTunes.

Ho Ho Ho.

This American Life / X-Men Poster!

Nov 18, 2010

In early 2010, we heard that a writer working for Marvel named James Asmus was a fan of This American Life, and had included a passing mention to our show in an X-Men comic book. It ended up being Nation X #1, with panel in question drawn by Michael Allred and colored by Laura Allred. It depicts the characters Wolverine and Nightcrawler listening to This American Life while driving across the country in a pickup truck.

So we thought, why not turn the thing into a poster?

The fine folks over at Marvel agreed to collaborate with us, and we came up with this handsome 16" x 32" enlargement. The initial run is a limited edition of just 2000 posters - available now in our store.

This American Life / X-Men poster

We know, it's a tough call: are you all the right kinds of nerd? To help you determine if this item is right for you or a loved one, we hired some superscientists to devise the Venn diagram below:

nerd Venn diagram

The decision is now in your hands.

12/10 Update: Our Christmas order deadline has passed. We can no longer guarantee that store orders will arrive by 12/24.

Alec Baldwin pledge drive promos!

Nov 17, 2010

Alec Baldwin on public radio

This past Summer, Alec Baldwin told producers at WNYC that he'd be willing to do some promos for the upcoming Fall pledge drive, and suggested getting Ira Glass involved. So Ira and David Krasnow and Rex Doane wrote and produced several spots featuring Alec and a bunch of public radio hosts and announcers. Maybe you heard these spots on the radio. And in perhaps the first instance in history of people seeking out the pledge drive, listeners have been asking us if they can hear them again. Without further ado:

Alec Baldwin: "Don't give!"

Some new pledge levels

Alec re-assigns Terry Gross

Alec re-assigns Nina Totenberg

Alec re-assigns Scott Simon

Alec re-assigns Ira Glass

Glengarry Glen Pledge

Pledge lesson

Did you like them? Prove it, and donate to your local public radio station.


USB drive with 35 hours of This American Life! (+ video!)

Nov 17, 2010

TAL USB Drive Okay, seriously: this may be the best piece of merchandise we've ever offered. It's certainly the most stuff we've ever crammed into one item. You see, we've created a custom-molded 2GB USB drive, and filled it with 35 favorite episodes of the radio show, hand picked by host Ira Glass. Want more? It also includes the entire video of our 2009 stage show that went live movie theaters.

So That's 35 HOURS of This American Life radio episodes plus an hour and a half of video, all in this little 2 1/2" tall flash drive. Plug it into any computer, play the shows off of the drive, or copy them into iTunes or your media player. You can keep the shows on it or use it to carry around your files (or both: it has around 300MB of free space). The drive comes in a protective metal tin (not pictured). And we're selling these for kind of a bargain: $29. It's a solid gift for someone new to the show, or for someone who's already a fan. Available now in our store.

The drive itself is a 3D version of our logo, fashioned by industrial designer Sinclair Smith. The word "THIS" is a removable cap.

Here's what host Ira Glass has to say about it:

"35 episodes, all at once":

Live show clips:

List of shows:

And here's a complete list of all the episodes it contains:

#014: Accidental Documentaries
#027: Cruelty of Children
#038: Simulated Worlds
#046: Sissies
#047: Xmas and Commerce
#061: Fiasco!
#077: Pray
#081: Guns
#084: Harold
#090: Telephone
#104: Music Lessons
#109: Notes on Camp
#172: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple
#175 Babysitting
#181: The Friendly Man
#203: Recordings for Someone
#206: Somewhere in The Arabian Sea
#218: Act V
#220: Testosterone
#233: Starting From Scratch
#241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes
#246: My Pen Pal
#252: Poultry Slam '03
#253: The Middle of Nowhere
#290: Godless America
#304: Heretics
#331: Habeas Schmabeas
#339: Break-Up
#352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar
#355: The Giant Pool of Money
#360: Switched at Birth
#379: Return to the Scene of the Crime (90 minute video!)
#388: Rest Stop
#396: #1 Party School
#403: NUMMI
#405: Inside Job

In conclusion, here's what the drive looks like with its hat on:

TAL USB Drive capped