In case you missed it, Ira Glass‘ appearance on Saturday night at the Kimmel Center was one that will stay with us for a long time — and if by some chance, you are reading this from out of town and you’re on Ira’s list of dates, by all means, drop everything and get tickets. Because Saturday night’s show was nothing less than a tutorial on storytelling the This American Life way, but it was also a freewheeling discussion on everything from how Gossip Girl is an utter disappointment (Glass still prefers The OC) to the nature of storytelling and interviewing and why newspapers and TV news are failing miserably. Seated behind a desk with just a mixing console and two CD players (one for soundbytes, one for music), Glass let the audience see under the hood of his radio show in a way that was disarming, fascinating and evangelical all at once. We don’t say this lightly: It was wonderful and inspiring. Musing on the stiffness and lack of 1-to-1 conversationalism in news sources — that voice Glass characterized as “something written by a robot, delivered by robots and done mostly for the benefit of other robots” — Glass drew a stark comparison to the world of commentary (ie., Daily Show, Rachel Maddow, blogs, etc.). “If you could make an actual news program that actually delivered the news like this,” he said, “then you’d really have something.” Chills went up our spines. And when you contrast the directness of the commentary-verse, he went on, and you see just how bad and corny so much of “the news” really is and how poorly it serves the truth, “they deserve to die,” he said. We clapped. Hard.
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