Homer's Travels: This American Life - Live At Royce Hall

Friday, March 16, 2007

This American Life - Live At Royce Hall

OK, it's time to post about This American Life. What a great night. We got to Royce Hall a little early. We were going to meet the "J" in front. Now, the "J" made a little faux pax the night before when she told the wife she was looking forward to seeing Garrison Keillor - the host of Prairie Home Companion -the problem is we were seeing This American Life hosted by Ira Glass instead. Oh well, an honest mistake - didn't stop us from having a laugh at her expense.

When the doors opened we went in and looked at the swag. T-Shirts and posters were procured while we waited for the inner doors into the all to be opened. The picture on the top of this post is the pictogram logo on the shirt I bought (I scanned my t-shirt). I was very slow and didn't realize what it meant until the Altar Boy enlighten me. I have always been a little slow with these type of puzzles. I dumped our treasures in the car before we took our seats. The "J" hadn't made it yet and we all wondered where she was. We read the flyers that were handed out at the door and were very excited with who was going to appear in this episode. The wife and altar boy were very excited about the guest band OK GO. Yes, OK GO. Did I tell you that OK GO was th guest band? OK GO!!!! Once again, I was stumped until the wife mentioned their treadmill video. I knew the video but not the name of the band. I have got to get out more.

There was a line on the flyer that seemed to apply to the "J". It said: "If you've been dragged here by a friend, a date, or a coworker and you've never heard our radio show and only have the foggiest notion of who the hell we are, you are in for a very strange evening indeed. Good luck to you. You are a good person and a good sport."

The lights dimmed OK GO (!!) did their first song and Ira Glass made his entrance. He looks a lot different in person. After doing his usual radio show introduction: "Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme...." The Altar Boy does a great Ira Glass. Ira started the show with a story, illustrated by a cartoon on a large screen over the stage, about some kids who made a fake television camera from a box and toilet paper tubes and how this eventually changed how they saw their world. It was a little strange having a visual to accompany the audio we were all familiar with. The show had three acts with a bonus fourth act for the live audience.

Act one was performed by Sarah Vowell. Sarah talked about the portrayal of thanksgiving on television. Sarah, a short, rather mousy writer and radio personality, has this deadpan way of delivery which makes what she says that much more funnier. She talked about Bewitched, Happy Days, The Simpsons, and other twisted views of the Thanksgiving holiday. Very funny stuff.

Act two was performed by John Hodgman. For those who do not know John, he is the PC guy on the Apple commercials. The guy is also a writer and a contributor to This American Life and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He talked about how becoming a TV personality changed his life. The funniest part was when he was recognized entering the Apple store in SOHO. It was hilarious. We were all laughing.

Act three was about the new This American Life television show. This was the extra act exclusively for the live audience. Ira and Chris Wilcha (the show's director) talked about the show. Chris mention he did not want to be known as the guy who ruined This American Life. They showed clips of the show including outtakes. This was followed by a 10 minute promotional video - a very funny promotional video - featuring a D&D playing teenage boy who says he will never fall in love and compared sex with pillaging a village (Ira asked him if his was the village or the pillager - HA). Ira asked the audience what they thought of the show mentioning that a fan in Chicago had yelled "Judas!" The Royce Hall crowd were more supportive. Myself ... I'm not sure. The show is on Showtime which I don't have access to so I'll have to wait for the DVD.

Act four was performed by Dan Savage. Dan writes a newspaper sex column. He talked about his straight son (Dan is gay) and how he is fighting to prevent his son from being exposed to bad heterosexual stereotypes on TV. He was funny.

OK GO (I did mention they were there, right?) played a song between each act. At the end of the show they did this great dance that was straight out of a cheerleading competition.

As we left the hall, the "J" caught up with us. She had gotten lost on the way and didn't have money for the parking so she missing about half of the show but she really liked it anyway. The usher sat her in the handicap seat .... I will e-mail the episode to her on Monday. By the way, the episode will air on the 17th of March. It sounds like it will be an amalgam of all the tour's shows. Not all of the acts we saw will actually appear in this week's episode.

It was a great show. We all had a great time and enjoyed every bit of it. I hope to be able to do this again sometime.

P.S. There was another Fiona Apple sighting in Royce Hall - She must have season tickets.

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