The Fabview: Ira Glass: An unforgettable night of stories and dance
I thought I knew Ira Glass.
I've heard his name all the time on NPR, and I've heard many of his shows over the years, but after his performance here in Big Sky on March 9, called “Seven things I’ve learned,” I realized: I’ve likely never heard one of his stories from beginning to end.
I didn't know how insightful and how funny he really is. He is an amazing speaker and storyteller. I have now downloaded several of his podcasts that I can't wait to listen too.
Laura Gregory, a friend who loved the show, when asked her favorite part of the evening, said she just loved seeing Glass in person and hearing his voice while seeing his gestures.
Ira talked about what it takes to make a show for radio. He mentioned how many show ideas end up getting squashed. One of them: He sat in front of Cher at a performance based on Cher’s life. He was amazed that he was seated in front of the person who this performance was about. Cher’s publicist never returned his calls for an interview, so that story was a no-go.
Ira also mentioned how important it is for a radio show to include others’ thoughts and feelings on the subject at hand.
This sentiment made me think of my own experiences: how I love to chat with friends after a movie, show or performance, discussing what their viewpoint was; what they thought or felt. More often than not my friends’ thoughts or feelings will be different from mine, or I might have missed something that they caught.
One of the big reasons I love writing these reviews is that it pushes me to talk to more people about their own personal feelings and views of the show. The exercise inspires me to focus, write and identify what my true thoughts and feelings are.
After all, all of us have thoughts and feelings about the shows we see – and we all have great stories of our own to tell – yet, as Ira Glass said, "great stories happen to those who can tell them."
In one of Ira’s segments he discussed how impressed he was with the way dancers can express stories and emotion, all without saying a word. For a while, he combined these two worlds, inviting dancers to accompany his prose.
In Big Sky Glass told a story about a dance company that pooled all their money together to buy lottery tickets, figuring their odds were good and feeling certain they were going to win. It was an extremely funny, fun and interesting story on its own, but with performers who came out express the emotions of the story through dance, it was even more memorable. This really added great visuals to the story. I would love to see more of this!
His final segment was a piece about David Sedaris. David and his sister Amy are among my favorite authors and comedians. I've always said if I get one wish in this life it would be to spend the holidays with both Amy and David Sedaris.
Following the show a few people mentioned that the final segment was a little much for them, and I can understand, however, the audience seemed to love it and broke into great laughter.
As for me, I loved the final piece.
David’s story was about being at a party where he found a large turd in the guest toilet. Not being able to flush it, he then had to try to convince others that it wasn't his. David said they refused to play the piece on the air, so he said, “I'll turn it into art, I'll make it into a poem.”
He told the story again, but this time in prose. Big Sky burst into laughter as they gave both Ira Glass and David Sedaris a standing ovation. As Stephen Foster said, "it takes real art and skill to take a story about a turd and make it poetic."
If you want to listen to the David Sedaris story you can find it on thisamericanlife.org in the archives – it is episode 60, “Business of Death, Act 4: Smugglers.”
To listen to Glass, the producer of "This American Life" which he has aired on NPR since 1995, tune in to Yellowstone Public Radio in Big Sky on the radio station 95.9. at noon on Saturdays.