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.
Davy Rothbart was on a 136-city tour appearing on morning TV talk shows to promote his book Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World. Just before one appearance he had what seemed like a great idea at the time.
A fable about gossip and the service industry involving a cat and a baboon, by David Sedaris. David's story was recorded live at UCLA's Royce Hall, as part of UCLA's Performing Arts series.
A group called Improv Everywhere decides that an unknown band, Ghosts of Pasha, playing their first ever tour in New York, ought to think they're a smash hit. So they study the band's music and then crowd the performance, pretending to be hard-core fans.
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.
A story by regular contributor David Sedaris involving his sister Lisa, a secret, and her very understanding parrot. David read this story live, and it's on his CD Live at Carnegie Hall. The story is also published in his book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.
A nice Florida girl changes high schools and takes the opportunity to try on a new personality...the slutty kind. Sascha Rothchild reads from her own teenage diary.
David Sedaris wishes he could take back a wish. He's the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and other books.
David Sedaris tells a story about how, as a teenager, he was scared of certain people...until he made them scared of him, one fateful night. Sedaris is the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and other books.
Host Ira Glass tells the story of Chris Sewell, who was living on the street and yet somehow managed to find $610,940 of lost money that belonged to the city of New York, hidden away on the Internet.
If you're going to do a show about people who are lost, you pretty much have to include a story about adolescents. Jonathan Goldstein tells a story from his teenage years.
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.
Davy Rothbart reads from letters, notes, scraps of paper and school papers, which have been lost by their original owners. He collects and publishes things like this in his magazine, Found Magazine.
Why is it that karaoke machines only have songs on them? If what they do is take a version of a public performance and allow the rest of us to give our own interpretations of the material, why aren't there other options, like the "you talkin to me?" scene from Taxi Driver, or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Jonathan Goldstein and producer Starlee Kine find out why when they go to a karaoke club that has, along with all the songs, comedy routines for people to perform.
The story of one girl's mission to bring people together everywhere by eliminating small talk forever. This American Life producer Starlee Kine has been going around lecturing audiences on the subject. She encourages them to switch to a new system she's invented, called The Rundown.
David Sedaris outlines an experiment he conducted with fluids and a tube and a bag. The result: The Stadium Pal.
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.
David Sedaris reads a new story about what "they" do at Christmas. And by "they" of course, we mean the Dutch.
David Sedaris has this instructive tale of how, as a boy, with the help of his dad, he tried to bridge the chasm that divides the popular kid from the unpopular...with the sorts of results that perhaps you might anticipate.
Ian Brown explains the lengths a normal dad will go to give his daughter a memorable birthday party, including a birthday stunt so crass that he and his wife shocked all their friends.
We hear the story of a disastrous birthday party and how it's hard not to see these kinds of moments as symbolic of something bad.
Regular TAL contributor Sarah Vowell takes over the family Thanksgiving dinner by bringing everyone to New York. What results is a series of milestones and family firsts.
The story of Tyler Cassity and how he's trying to remake one of our oldest rituals of commemoration.Tyler is one of the owners of a cemetery called Hollywood Forever, and he's been introducing 20th-Century technology to American funerals, which haven't changed much since the Civil War. At Hollywood Forever, the cost of a burial includes a video of your life: to be shown at your funeral, to be viewable at kiosks on the cemetery grounds, and to be posted—for eternity—on the Internet.
On a commemorative day, it can be hard to feel a real sense of the past and of how time has moved forward. Russell Banks has a story demonstrating what it might take to do just that.