Favorite stories by our longtime contributor and friend David Rakoff.
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David Rakoff died on August 9, 2012. He’d appeared on This American Life 25 times, first in 1996, during the third month of the show; his last appearance was just a few weeks before he died. He was on the program so often that in putting together this week’s show, we realized we could tell a lot of his life story, simply through things he said on the show. So this week we do just that, with excerpts from some of his favorite stories over the years.
David on how he tried to pass as a local once he moved from Toronto to New York. He claims that there must be a chip in his head — or something like it — that automatically tells him when someone or something famous is Canadian. From episode #65: Who’s Canadian?
The Meaning Of A Bird
David writes about how his life changed after a single evening spent with 5000 chickens. From episode #116: Poultry Slam 1998.
Working at an advertising agency in Japan in the early ‘80s, David scoffed at their computer “network.” From episode #241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes.
I Used To Bank Here But That Was Long, Long Ago
David’s first battle with cancer came at age 22. Years later, he wrote about the experience. From episode #156: What Remains.
We also hear an excerpt from one of Terry Gross’ interviews with David on Fresh Air.
Sheetcakes In The Conference Room, Whiskey After Dark
Recalling the years when he worked low-level publishing jobs, David describes the life of a writer who doesn’t actually write. From epiosde #208: Office Politcs.
A never-before-aired story about the Broadway musical Rent.
More Animals Eating Other Animals
W hear the first time David appeared on our show, in a courtroom radio drama in which played a cat who was also the prosecuting attorney. From epsiode #12: Animals.
Then a story David co-wrote and performed with Jonathan Goldstein, originally for the CBC’s Wiretap, about a man who believes he’s turning into a cockroach and reaches out to a famous doctor for advice. Except the doctor will only respond in rhyme. David plays the doctor. From epsiode #470: Show Me The Way.
Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace
David demonstrates — in rhyme — how to make a wedding toast for people you never wanted to see married in the first place. From epsiode #389: Frenemies.
The show also includes never-before-heard excerpts from David’s book, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel. David recorded these less than two weeks before he died. David’s other books are Don’t Get Too Comfortable, Fraud, and Half Empty.
David in our cinema event from May.