Some time ago, I’d grown bored with using my TV’s sleep timer/being blinded by reading ComiXology on my iPad in the dark as a bedtime story, I decided it was time to find another way to successfully fall asleep at night. I’m still not sure how I found it, but I’m glad I did because now I’m (luckily) here to share this bit of fried gold with you!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Night Vale.
Created in 2012 by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, this bi-weekly podcast comes under the guise of a newsradio program hosted by Cecil Gershwin Palmer (Cecil Baldwin) providing community announcements, news and advertising for the people of Night Vale, where all conspiracy theories are real and an accepted part of living in this small desert town somewhere in the Southwestern U.S.
Welcome to Night Vale is everything sci-fi/fantasy/NPR fans have ever wanted: weird sandstorms that turn into portals, the presence angels and dinosaurs, a mysterious glow cloud who ends up on the school board, a newly built dog park no one is allowed to use or even visit, the horror that is “Street Cleaning Day,” a PTA meeting that accidentally tears a rift in spacetime, buildings that were built for no reason (like an entire waterfront) that no one is supposed to mention or even talk about, an “Apache Tracker” who starts out as just a white guy in a chieftain headdress but then really DOES turn into one with time, and more.
Cecil Baldwin does an excellent job of handling the lion’s share of the podcast, as for the most part, he is the voice of Night Vale and the guest voices are sometimes food — when he talks of the scientist Carlos and his “beautiful hair,” or the way he says “Steve Carlsberg” with the same ire Jerry Seinfeld had when saying “Hello, Newman,” I can’t help but smile just a little.
In short, Fox Mulder would’ve LOVED this place as he could’ve spent the entire visit (and for some reason, the town DOES get tourists) saying “TOLD YOU SO,” to Scully. In fact, I would call WTNV “‘Eureka’ meets ‘X-Files’ meets ‘Eerie, Indiana’ meets NPR with a dash of humor and a song (under the guise of the weekly weather report).”
“And now, the weather.”
As previously mentioned, what also makes WTNV stand out (among other things) is the “weather report,” a clever way to introduce listeners to indie musicians – which includes rock, rap, world music, and everything in between – with the info for said musician included in the episode.
If you go ahead to 11:32 mark, you’ll get to taste the hilarity that is the Traffic Report followed by the Weather Report (or feel free to listen to the entire episode)!
I could tell you about Cecil’s big time crush on the visiting scientist known as Carlos, the ire Cecil has for supposed nemesis Steve Carlsberg, how things keep happening but are never supposed to be mentioned (OR ELSE), the Sheriff’s Secret Police and being sent to the abandoned mineshaft (now with HBO) for ‘re-education’ or ‘de-education’ (depending on occasion), or how the Night Vale interns, much like the drummers of Spinal Tap, keep meeting their end at the hands of weirdness.
But with episodes running a mere 25-30 minutes each, wouldn’t you rather listen for yourself?
Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, the end of every episode doles out information on how you can contribute your own writing, music or voice to an upcoming episode! If you do, you’ll join the likes of Jackson Publick (“The Venture Brothers”), Mara Wilson (Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda), Molly Quinn (“Castle”), James Urbaniak (“The Venture Brothers,” “Agent Carter”) and Wil Wheaton as those who’ve lent their voices to this fine piece of Americana satire. And if that weren’t enough, every episode ends with some kind of skewed proverb, like this one from episode 3, “Station Management.”
“There’s a special place in Hell. It’s really hip. Very exclusive.”
Welcome to Night Vale has racked up some neat accomplishments in its three years, including surpassing NPR’s This American Life to #1 on iTunes’ Top 10 Audio Podcast list in 2012, #7 on The AV Club’s “Best Podcasts of 2013,” AND is still going strong with live shows, merchandise and TONS of fan art and “fanscripts” (transcripts) so that you can feel free to read along.
If you can’t listen to the show but you’re feeling like you need a wee smackerel of Night Vale to get you through your day, their Twitter account is hilarity on a stick and harkens back to the days of SNL’s “Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey.”
Welcome to Night Vale is still going strong, with episode 59 released New Year’s Day; if you’d like to experience the weirdness that is WTNV, click here.
I hope you enjoy it (and Cecil) as much as I do…and remember:
Good night, Night Vale!
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