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Rappers and puppeteers like This American Life too!

SHARE Rappers and puppeteers like This American Life too!

Comic book writer Jake Asmus isn’t the only one who likes to express public radio fandom in his art. Andrew Gill came across the blog of rapper Adam WarRock (a Marvel Comics reference; it seems like a lot of nerds listen to public radio). Adam WarRock is working on an album to be released in 2010, and he’s made a first cut of a song that celebrates Ira Glass. It so happens that I know a couple of theater students at my school, North Park University, who also found some of their inspiration from the host of This American Life when they were staging a show as a part of the Puppet Festival this semester at North Park. I was fortunate enough to be a part of festival and watch the process of two hard working students: Christy Gaylord and Sarah Nelson. They were trying to figure out how to adapt a short story into the format of a puppet show when it hit them. With a little help from North Park Alum Nigel Harsch and his Ira Glass impression, they had figured it out... Photo by Ashley-Marie Hicks Sarah had gone home to Colorado for Thanksgiving, but the semester wasn’t over yet. It’s that most awful time of the year for students. The awkward timing of Thanksgiving, for all of the turkey and obscene amounts of gravy it brings, only delays the inevitable. Crunch time. Hell week. Whatever you want to call it. It was coming. As Sarah drove the long drive back to school, listening to the radio, she couldn’t help but think about one of her biggest problems. Her puppet theater class. North Park University was putting on a puppetry festival to showcase what the class had done for the semester. Equal parts acting class and theater production class, students were paired up to put on a final performance for the class. Christy and Sarah chose the short story, Teddy, by J.D. Salinger to adapt. There are few stories, however, that easily adapt to the format of a puppet show. Puppet theater doesn’t exactly lend itself to lengthy soliloquies, and the story involves a great deal of dialogue. Christy and Sarah needed a solution. Sarah was racking her brain on the long drive from Colorado to Chicago when a voice gave her the idea. She wasn’t going crazy. It was Ira Glass, talking to her through the radio. Sarah is a big This American Life fan, and it’s a part of what makes driving across the country to her school and back bearable. It was obvious to her how she would present her story. Sarah and Christy decided to format the show like an episode of TAL. The beginning was a preview of the entire show, divided up into acts. The “host” then signifies the beginning and end of each act. And who better to host the show than an Ira Glass puppet? The turnout for the show was far more than anyone anticipated, and the conditions for the show’s videographer, Robert Eisenbraun, were less than ideal, so I synchronized the raw audio of Nigel’s Ira Glass impression with the video. Nigel had a little help with some audio editing software, but I think his Ira impression is pretty good. What do you all think of Nigel’s Ira impression?

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