Posted by paulrivas on:
As a half-white, half-brown person, I know an all-white crowd when I see one, and I can tell you that there were at least three brown people in Campbell Hall last night to see Ira Glass.
The show got off to a late start on account of airport fog, and if the intro excuses were a little cheesy, Glass more than made up for it by passing off the lame parts as things he was doing ironically and would only do seriously in Marin County.
When Glass started at NPR as a 19-year-old semiotics major at Brown, public radio had the sound of something that tried to make people feel better about themselves for listening to it. This American Life doesn’t try to make feel better about themselves, but only tries to be fun to listen to.
Glass didn’t discuss the phenomenon whereby today’s NPR listeners feel superior to others because they tune in, especially to This American Life, but he did say that the average time spent listening to the 60-minute program is 48 minutes.
Glass’s parents still don’t think much of his radio career, and only gave up on him becoming a doctor when he reached age 40. The reason? “Jews.”
The crux of the show was the six minutes where Glass detailed the This American Life story formula that would enable audience members to create mesmerizing radio of their own: action, action, action, thought.
“A story is entirely about motion. It’s very animal…As long as there’s forward motion, you can create suspense…Ask people things chronologically…Get them to give you the dialogue...Radio is best when it mimicks normal conversation.”
For this paying customer ($40), the best parts were where Glass didn’t appear to be trying to conjure up production value by touting the iPad app he used (Ableton) or making symphonic gestures, but instead surrendered to the moment and spoke without premeditation.
When he learned that a single whining shriek in the crowd had come from a baby, Glass said, “Why would you bring a baby to a show like this? That’d be like bringing a deaf person. Babies are too stupid to know what’s going on. My dog could get more out this show.”