Top Five: This American Life Primer

It astounds me that there are still people who don’t listen to This American Life. If you’re among them, you’re missing out on the most consistently fantastic hour of entertainment available.

Stop it. Start with these:

  1. A Little Bit of Knowledge: Dan Savage on why his six-year-old doesn’t want his dads to get married, the proper pronunciation of “xing,” and you’ll finally understand what I’m talking about when I reference “Modern Jackass.”
  2. Notes on Camp: The #1 episode in their archive, and for good reason. If you went to camp, you’ll love it — even if you hated camp like I did — and if you didn’t go to camp you might end up wishing you had.
  3. Mind Games: Improv Everywhere gets what they’ve got coming to them.
  4. Lessons: Spaulding Gray opens the show and one of my favorite contributors talks about taking his three-year-old to swimming lessons with the fascist who taught me swimming lessons as a wee guppy in Sandwich, NH.
  5. Recordings for Someone: This contains the phrase “you and the Little Mermaid can go f**k yourselves.” C’mon. You’re intrigued.

I’ve listened to more than 400 hours of this show. I’m jealous of anyone that has the entire catalog to discover.

If you’re a fan, what are your favorites?


I make things. And do things. And think about things. And stuff. And whatnot.

Posted in top five
7 comments on “Top Five: This American Life Primer
  1. I am a huge fan of This American Life. NPR’s Saturday programs are my favorite (not sure if it broadcasts on NPR in San Francisco).


  2. higa says:

    I am only just starting to listen to This American Life! So far, have quite enjoyed Return to the Scene of the Crime and Right to Remain Silent. Can’t wait to listen to these suggestions!

    Also- am loving the other podcasts RadioLab, Tobolowsky Files, The Bugle, FilmSpotting, and Marc Maron’s WTF.

  3. Valerie says:

    I used to listen all the time, from around 1995 till about 5 years ago, basically until it sounded too “produced”. My all-time favorite was “When Words Fail” from the late ’90s. I remember crying all the way down Mass Ave in Cambridge and crying so hard I could barely drive my car.

    I also loved “I Know What You Did Last summer” and “The Friendly Man” because I love love love Scott Carrier.

  4. Katie says:

    My first one was Switched at Birth, which is fascinating. I think Fear of Sleep and Music Lessons nare my other two favorites. Now I feel like I need to make a complete list.

  5. higa says:

    ok ok. i broke down and bought the iPad app and holy cow this is the nicest designed iPad app i have ever used. no kidding. and it lets you make playlists so now i have bookmarked all of the eps listed here for listening. woop.

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