David Rakoff discusses the world of birthdays and other holidays, as they're celebrated on the job... and what happens when you call yourself an editorial assistant but the editor you're assisting calls you a secretary. He read this story before a live audience at Town Hall in New York City, during a This American Life live show.
Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall were a comedy duo back in the mid-1960s, playing clubs around Los Angeles, when their agent called to tell them he'd landed them the gig of a lifetime: They were going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show. The only problem was that their performance was a total fiasco, for a bunch of reasons, including one they never saw coming.
Ira and playwright David Hauptschein took out advertisements in Chicago inviting people to come to a small theater with letters they've received, sent or found. People came for two nights, and read their letters onstage.
In this show, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Ira and David Hauptschein explored this now utterly quaint question: Are people having experiences on the Internet they wouldn't have anywhere else? Several hundred listeners sent in samples of what they were finding on the Internet. A guy offers a girl a late-night tour of Microsoft...and this actually makes him seem hot.
Joshuah Bearman tells a story that’s a sequel to his memorable episode about his mother and half-brother David. It’s done onstage as a play that’s structured like a radio documentary, with Josh Hamilton playing Joshuah, and James Ransone playing his brother.
Ira interviews Ryan Knighton, a blind guy who had a very peculiar experience with a hotel room telephone. Then Ira introduces the rest of the show, which was recorded live on stage in New York City and beamed to movie theaters in the US, Canada and Australia.
Dan Savage points a finger at the Catholic Church for being the kind of criminal organization that drives him to atheism—despite the fact that he still wants to believe he'll see his mom in heaven someday. Dan writes the sex advice column Savage Love and is the author of several books including The Commitment.
Sarah Vowell examines what happens when TV takes on a subject it really has no business exploring at all, but seems fairly obsessed with nonetheless: The Pilgrims. Sarah's most recent book is Assassination Vacation.
Sarah Vowell tells the lost story behind a patriotic song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." An early version of the song celebrated an American terrorist. She's accompanied by Jon Langford and the band.