Two of my favourite things from the internet converged on Thursday night when I met up with Danielle and her mum to go and watch ‘An evening with Ira Glass’, the creator and host of This American Life, one my favourite podcasts.
I love listening to podcasts almost as much as reading. I have a few ‘must-listen’ favourites on my list, of course including This American Life. I love how each show has a theme and expands on that theme. For example, one show entitled “Fear of Sleep” has a whole range of different stories, such as a sleepwalker tells of his sleepwalking adventures (which are absolutely hilarious!), a now grown man talks of being too afraid to sleep for two years after watching The Shining as a kid and people in an apartment block in New York talk about their infestation of bedbugs and cockroaches and being unable to sleep because of it- and that’s just for starters.
We met up with Danielle and her mum before the show. We went to a little pizza place that I’d gone to before. The staff seemed a bit put-out that we hadn’t made a booking and shoved us into a corner of the courtyard as punishment but we loved it! We sat underneath a hanging tree and a wall covered in lights and lanterns, who wouldn’t love that?! The food was absolutely beautiful. We had a pancetta and fetta pizza and then a zucchini, tomato and beef pizza. SO good!!!!!!
The show started in the dark with Ira coming out onto the stage and talking. He talked about how intimate the radio was. And it’s true. I mean, I do most of my listening as I drift off to sleep. So it’s usually me in the dark, listening to Ira talk, when I am at my most vulnerable. It was a great way to start the show with us getting to ‘see’ Ira as we normally do, just a faceless voice in the dark. When the lights went up, he was like “hi” and talked about how now we could finally see what he looked like and he could see what we looked like. He then looked out into the crowd and had total eye contact with my mum. I was super jealous! After the show I was talking about that and Danielle’s mum sympathised with me and said that I should have worn a bright colour, like my mum. Next time I will be wearing bright fluorescent pink to outdo my mum and Ira Glass will make eye contact with me!!
He wandered around the stage with an iPad, talking and pressing it to start music or excerpts from the show. He said that people after watching his stage show were all like “Oh, so that’s how you do the show in real life” and he was like “Uh, no, that would be crazy- me sitting in the studio and pressing buttons at certain times” and everyone laughed. Except for me who TOTALLY thought that’s how they did the show!
I loved when towards the end his iPad started playing up and he started trying to verbally coax it to work. That made me laugh because it’s such a human thing, to try and talk to a machine to make it work. I like that the great Ira Glass talks to inanimate objects too!
He talked about how This American Life is different to other ‘news’ shows. When America first invaded Iraq, the press were invited onto a big aircraft carrier in order to get a story on how America was fighting the war. Ira played a snippet of the CNN story that ran. It was very dramatic with exciting music playing underneath, as the reporter listed the vast size of the ship, how many planes they had on, what nuclear devices they had, and so on. Then Ira played an excerpt from the This American Life story. It stated that the average age of the people serving on this ship was 21. And how basically, the ship was like a giant college dormitory. They followed one girl whose entire job was to restock the vending machines on the ship which she did in her twelve hour shift. They focused on what were the most popular chocolates and which were the least popular and how she tries different techniques to get people to choose the least popular candies so she can clear space for new stock.
Ira talked a lot about the art of storytelling and how it can be used. He had a whole bunch of tips that at the time, I was like “I need to write this down before I forget”… and now it is too late.
I spent most of the evening with a huge smile on my face. It was just such a wonderful experience to have. And my crush on Ira just grew like crazy. As Danielle said on the night, there’s something about a man who reads through every one of Obama’s speeches to see what he specifically said about the GFC and in nearly the same breath, talks about how he watches Gilmore Girls or Gossip Girl with his wife.
And oh there were so many hipsters there. SO MANY. There were skinny jeans, beards, black-rimmed glasses, vintage dresses, tattoo sleeves, artfully created bedhead. My mum commented on the fact that there were so many ‘artsy fartsy’ people there. I informed her that “Mum, the word is hipsters”. Which she then used at every opportunity.
And now my mum and Danielle’s mum are going out for coffee some time soon! We are friend matchmakers!!! As soon as I got into the car on the way home, I turned to mum and said “How great is my friend from the internet?!!”. So thanks Internet for a great night out.