Review: This American Life Live! (2012)

ImageA theater buzzing with intellectuals and hipsters was what I expected and promptly received when I attended This American Life Live! You Can’t Do That On The Radio, a live performance of the ever-popular radio program and podcast series beamed to roughly 600 movie theaters around the country on May 8, 2012. If you listen to the show, the only thing that kept you from Thursday’s program was either lack of proximity to a not-sold-out movie theater or the $20 required to pay the hefty ticket price.

This American Life, for those uninitiated, is a publicly produced radio program broadcast weekly on over 500 stations around the country before being posted for free online, where it frequently has the distinction of being the most popular podcast in the country. Hosted by the soothingly precise voice of the invaluable Ira Glass (who could read you to sleep were he not pumping your brain with so much goodness), each episode has a chosen theme that is unpacked over an hour of selected stories of everyday people — most them either heartwarmingly or heartbreakingly true.  Perhaps the best way to understand the show is simply to listen (the most recent episode, #154: In Dog We Trust, is available here), and their website is packed with their expansive catalogue of nearly every program for the price the oxygen and time your consuming at this very moment (though the show is arguably a better use of the latter than anything I’m currently writing).

Hence the distinction “Live!” in the title of this one-of-a-kind theatrical experience, where listeners around the globe can bask in the glory of seeing nerds on-stage in real time in 600 different venues around the country. And this is indeed an event for a crowd, up to and including a specifically interactive performance from Grammy-award winning band OK Go. This Amercan Life has always seemed pointed at bringing people together through experience (shared or individual), and part of the fun of this particular presentation is that it literally accomplishes that expressed goal. Continue reading “Review: This American Life Live! (2012)”