Other Ten Percent 6/17/14

Jun 17 2014

So today I’m just going to talk about just one thing I’m really enjoying and again this is going to be one of those theme weeks that is one until I get bored and it isn’t anymore but I think just in general I’m going to try and talk about some writing/writers I enjoy for a bit.

So let’s talk about Welcome to Night Vale because when I looked back to see what I’d said about the podcast on Other Ten Percent I realized I mostly just talked about it a bunch with Suzan and Nikki and then linked to things about it a few times but never explained what the hell it was.

So the brief explainer is that Welcome to Night Vale is a fake community radio show that sounds a bit like A Prairie Home Companion if that show was set in a world of ever-shifting lovecraftian horror.

And at the beginning what’s remarkable about it is just that it’s a really good execution of a high concept bit. It sounds like a radio broadcast you could pick up driving through the desert late at night and wonder what the hell is going on. That certainly gets me on board right away. It manages to make the world feel totally lived in and really funny right out of the gate and that’s an impressive enough feat.

For the first year it’s satisfied to just do variations on its basic idea and honestly that’s satisfying for the audience too. A lot of projects that are really obsessed with world building turn inward too fast which turns what could have been an exciting world into a claustrophobic one populated by like…4 people. I speak from experience here. So the whole first year just quietly builds out the world in addition to letting the audience know what to expect from Night Vale instead of jumping right to fan service. I don’t think Night Vale has any recurring plots in its whole first year.

But then in the second year the show does start to look inward and the mythology of the little universe starts to take hold and HOLY SHIT you guys. Over the past half year especially Welcome to Night Vale has been writing the best monologues going on anywhere in any medium because it’s figured out how to take this absurd world and make it intensely relatable on an emotional and philosophical level.

I don’t want to spoil the specific elements that recur and become the ongoing plotline but I also don’t have to to make my case on this one.

The best thing about Nightvale on an advocacy level is that it’s commute sized. I love Comedy Bang Bang to death but when I agitate for somebody like Jane to listen to an episode I have to acknowledge it’s as long as a fucking feature film. It’s a commitment. (But seriously the episode with Cake Boss and H.R. Giger is amazing)

But Nightvale episodes are 20-30 minutes long. Which means you can listen to the first episode right here (that WILL auto play, sorry) on your lunch break. Or on your walk or drive home from work or really whenever and then just queue up another one if you like it.

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