There’s Something About Night Vale

If you are a citizen of the internet – and especially if you are a Tumblr user – you have picked up on the recent hype about Commonplace Books’ year-old podcast, “Welcome to Night Vale.”  I’m not generally one to jump on to too many trendy bandwagons, but the fandom surrounding WtNV was so intriguing that I couldn’t help myself.

Image from commonplacebooks.com

Image from commonplacebooks.com

This podcast is phenomenal.  I’ve actually only listened to six of the current twenty-eight episodes at the time I’m writing this, but I’m already beyond hooked.  The show, written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, is hosted by the velvety-voiced Cecil Baldwin (whose character’s name is likewise Cecil), and the entire premise is that he is relating the news of the tiny desert town of Night Vale.  Cecil talks very matter-of-factly about such issues as space-time rifts, mysterious glow clouds, and high school football players sprouting extra heads, giving the overall impression that Night Vale is hardly the normal suburban community it initially seems to be.

The combination of creepy horror and out-and-out comedy is my absolute favorite combination (I’ve been thinking about re-watching the Beetlejuice and Courage the Cowardly Dog cartoons recently), and “Night Vale” is finally some new media in this niche genre.  And not only is the comedy delivered with a most impressive deadpan voice, but the jokes are continuously witty and satirical, out to satisfy the intellectual listener.

It is a complete mystery to me why this podcast suddenly exploded on Tumblr, but I feel very fortunate that it did, otherwise it might have taken me much longer to hear about it.  Because there are no visuals, fan interpretation for the show is varied and interesting, casting the characters in a multitude of ways.  And because Cecil appears to be canonically gay and the object of his affection is more-likely-than-not a person of color (his name is Carlos the Scientist and he has perfect hair), many fandom doors are being opened in terms of minority visibility in artwork and other media.

It is comforting to know that, even though radio is something that most people listen to exclusively in the car these days, there is a venue for truly intelligent radio shows to gain the notoriety they deserve.  And radio can still be something groundbreaking, utilizing uncommon character types and chuckle-inducing satire.  I cannot recommend “Welcome to Night Vale” enough; if it helps, I’ve heard the show described as “The Twilight Zone as narrated by Garrison Keillor,” which is honestly pretty apt.

So if you like the idea of a desert community fraught with constant unknown circumstances, canonically queer characters, characters of color, satire disguised as propaganda, and/or songs about waiting for the bus in the rain, “Welcome to Night Vale” is sure to be a hit.  Each episode is about twenty minutes long, so it’s a perfect diversion while you’re driving to work or doing some menial task – but be sure to pay close attention, because the jokes fly fast and you wouldn’t want to miss out on a single silkily-delivered punch line!


Related Posts

From Tribute to Mount Doom, A Lesson in Survival Skills.

From Tribute to Mount Doom, A Lesson in Survival Skills.

Friday Fanzine:  Prime Materials from Rogers Cadenhead

Friday Fanzine: Prime Materials from Rogers Cadenhead

April Nostalgia for the Land of the Rising Sun

April Nostalgia for the Land of the Rising Sun

12 Comments

  1. April 20, 2014, 11:04 am   / 

    […] Alley by Roger Zelazny Fiction in Amazing Stories Today: Finity by Felicity Savage FANS WANTED! There’s Something About Night Vale Characters: Clare of Claymore How Art Reveals Truth in Science Review: The Martian by Andy Weir […]

  2. April 6, 2014, 11:03 am   / 

    […] It’s (Not) Rocket Science: John Aaron: “SCE to AUX” An Introduction to the Empire’s Corps There’s Something About Night Vale SGT. Fury Special Marvel Edition – Captain America and Bucky Anime roundup 4/3/2014: The Naked […]

  3. March 23, 2014, 11:03 am   / 

    […] J. Sullivan Top Ten Greatest Swords of All Time Pirates of the Final Frontier Jodorowsky’s Dune There’s Something About Night Vale Recap: “Sakizuke,” Hannibal Season 2, Episode 2 It’s (Not) Rocket Science: John Aaron: “SCE […]

  4. February 3, 2014, 11:05 am   / 

    […] as well. And of course, I’m sure there will be the occasional non-anime-related post, like my Night Vale one that has been consistently popular since I wrote it (though I’m never sure why, […]

  5. January 19, 2014, 11:01 am   / 

    […] Greg Viggiano, Executive Director of The Museum Of Science Fiction The Metal Man by Jack Williamson There’s Something About Night Vale AMAZING News 01/12/14 How To Take Advantage of Amazing Stories How Do You Ride a Gray Planet? Ask […]

  6. January 12, 2014, 11:01 am   / 

    […] There’s Something About Night Vale […]

  7. January 5, 2014, 11:00 am   / 

    […] Combatants Deconstructing Horror: Haunted Houses Books That Never Were – Farewell Atlantis There’s Something About Night Vale Title Bump: What 2014 Has In Store Road to Publication in 2014 Year One: The 100 Most Viewed Posts […]

  8. December 29, 2013, 11:02 am   / 

    […] John Aaron: “SCE to AUX” Asni’s Art Blog: Happy 25 December! star wars alex kane interviw There’s Something About Night Vale Winter 2014 SF Anime Preview Characters: Clare of Claymore Interview with Award-Winning Author Lois […]

  9. November 24, 2013, 11:08 am   / 

    […] Decay, or: The Science of Mr. Science Sequential Wednesdays #24 – FINAL ISSUE: THE END OF AN ERA There’s Something About Night Vale The Changing Face of Science Fiction Tag — You’re it! One Fan’s History Through Nametags […]

  10. November 3, 2013, 9:42 am   / 

    […] News – Silverberg Heart Attack Interview: Black Science Fiction Artist: Eric Wilkerson There’s Something About Night Vale AMAZING STORIES Now Offering Advertising All Aboard for Mars! A True Story Digital Imprints […]

  11. September 8, 2013, 10:24 am   / 

    […] lo virtual a lo presencial: las tertulias en Hispanoamérica Deconstructing Horror: Haunted Houses There’s Something About Night Vale IAAA Gallery: Michael C. Turner – Galactic Visionary A Farewell To My Caped Crusader: An Ode to […]

  12. September 1, 2013, 6:40 pm   / 

    […] Vallejo, ¿autor de ciencia ficción? Genre vs. Literary: The SFF Experience There’s Something About Night Vale SyFy. Not a Mispelling, Just an Awful Channel. A World Without Science Fiction La ciencia ficción […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.