As the number of female prisoners climbs, visiting rooms are packed on Mother's Day. Eighty percent of female inmates have children at home.
What happens when you go into a place—in this case a prison—where there are all sorts of codes about what you're never supposed to say...and you say every one of them. Rick Reynolds tells a story from his one-man show (and CD) All Grown Up and No Place to Go, about performing stand-up comedy at a maximum security prison just before Christmas a few years ago.
When is a chicken your friend? When is he your dinner? This American Life's former webmeister Elizabeth Meister talks with Kamiko Overs, an 11-year-old girl at the annual poultry exhibition run by the American Poultry Association in Columbus, Ohio. Elizabeth Meister is a producer with Long Haul Productions.
Last year, a woman named Karen Davis started a national letter writing campaign to try to get This American Life to stop the very program we are broadcasting today—the annual Poultry Slam. In this portion of our show, she explains what it is that we just don't understand about poultry, and why the whole idea of this poultry show was wrong-headed from the start.
We ask 18-year-old Chana Wiliford and her father in Texas if they'd be willing to have a conversation on tape in which each of them gets to ask the other the questions they've never asked before. In the conversation, Chana is half his child, half his peer.
How David Sedaris became a Christmas writer — and how he started writing stories about the holiday that are so dark that sometimes it seems that he's trying to single handedly destroy Christmas. We hear from members of David's own family, and from David, all of whom insist that David loves Christmas.
David Sedaris reads this story. A high-powered theater critic applies his critical skills to the Christmas pageants at local elementary schools.
Julia Sweeney reads this story. She's a former Saturday Night Live cast member and star of the sad and comic memoir of life with cancer, God Said, "Ha!," which played on Broadway.
A Hollywood TV producer tries to convince a church of evangelical Christians to sell out a member of their own congregation. Matt Malloy reads. He was one of the stars of the acclaimed independent film In the Company of Men.Also in this act: Dickens vs.
Michael Lewis on duck hunting.
Julie throws up.
Host Ira Glass goes to one of the epicenters of modern Christmas — the world's biggest toy store — minutes before closing on Christmas Eve. (5 1/2 minutes)
Writer David Sedaris's true account of two Christmas seasons he spent working as an elf at Macy's department store in New York. When a shorter version of this story first aired on NPR's Morning Edition, it generated more tape requests than any story in the show's history to that point.
Tapes recorded in a Chicago home Christmas morning, more than 50 years ago.
Julie Showalter, on a costume she wore as a kid.
Greg Whitehead, with screams from the This American Life audience.
Host Ira Glass explores a self-help cassette tape that promises to bring the listener peace about being single. The only problem is that it achieves this by having you envision your perfect romantic partner.
A Christmas radio play by David Sedaris and the Pinetree Gang.
A Christmas tree story by Chicago playwright/musician Beau O'Reilly.
A story about Christmas at Juvenile Court by Chicago novelist/editor Reginald Gibbons.
Peter Clowney reports on Christmas at the Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church. Music from Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church all through the hour.