Inspirations: Welcome to Night Vale

It’s always cool when you get to experience something you’ve loved from the periphery up close and personal, and not too long ago I got to do just that. If you’re unfamiliar with the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, go listen. Listen right now. Start at the beginning and just lay back and enjoy the weirdness. The friend who got me into it describes it as community radio from the Twilight Zone, and that’s fairly accurate. Imagine a town where all conspiracy theories are true, Lovecraftian creatures lurk in the periphery, hooded figures congregate around the dog park, and librarians are monsters.

It’s pretty awesome, is what I’m saying.

It was suggested that I start listening to the podcast close to when it first began, if I recall, but being old and slightly resistant to technology and all new things, plus having the schedule I had at the time, i just didn’t do it. Then, after i’d changed jobs and begun the rehaul of my life last year, I found the need to get back to finding little things that made me happy and gave me something to talk about.

Yep, some ladies do the chick flick thing and move to Tuscany, buy a house, have a fling, and eventually find their heart’s desires. I get moody and let myself get talked into listening to weird podcasts. Thank God I do the normal thing, right?

I love things that make me jealous, because usually that burning “Oh my God WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS” feeling doesn’t last long. Plus, it helps when it’s done really well. Not only is the execution of Night Vale great, so are the performances, and the writing…oh, man. This show is poetic, darkly funny, insightful, philosophical, poignant…and then hilarious all over again. It reminds me a little bit of watching Rocky and Bullwinkle as a kid – you can laugh about the surface stuff at first but when you really catch on to some of what’s being said, it’s like suddenly understanding a whole new language with a whole new set of in jokes and things to ponder over.

I also love the inclusive elements the podcast presents. It treats Cecil and Carlos’s relationship with respect, there are so many female characters and they are all awesome, and what little people descriptions and last names there are reflect that it’s a town in the Southwest.

Music-wise, I’m introduced to artists I wouldn’t have known otherwise, which I love. I love that there’s so much talent actually out there, people that most don’t even know are so awesome because of how the music business is structured. It’s great that they’re given a voice through the show and through other avenues.

Plot-wise, it will always keep me guessing, and I love that. I’ve had to listen to some episodes a few times because if I’m not paying attention, am working while listening, or even remotely sleepy, I’ll miss something. The choices of words and descriptions fascinate me, and I like that a lot of things are left vague-ish so the listener can interpret what things look like on their own. From Cecil to Khoshek, from Tamika Flynn to The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in your House, to the questionable crew of Desert Bluffs, there is an amazing group of characters and concepts here.

It’s things like this that are being created right this second that inspire me and make me want to do better with my own work. I never would have thought a concept like that could have worked long term, and I’m so glad I was proven wrong. I love it, I’m so glad it exists. I’d thank the angels but we all know that angels are not real. I’m so happy for the creators and cast that it continues to do well. It’s also mind-boggling that they still control this beast, that it’s funded by donations, that they’re really trying to do the very best for the show and for the growing fanbase. That’s incredible to me.

I cannot wait for the novel in October.

Until then, though, I got a chance to see the live show, and it was so much fun. Granted, you’re watching a live version of the podcast so it’s a bit like watching a radio show in person, but it was really cool to see how the actors emote their characters, to see how things play out when done in real time. Plus, I swear everyone involved with that show just has the most slammin’ fashion sense. I’d go into more detail, but since the show will be up soon enough on itunes, it’s worth keeping my trap shut. I wouldn’t want to be taken to the abandoned mine shaft or to the city council for re-education or something.

What also struck me, though, was how everyone was intent on getting along. There were teens, adults, families – all sorts of people gathered to see the show. It was great to talk to different types of people or even just watch them go by, getting excited over the same stuff that makes me excited.

That’s the mark of something great, you know. Something that pulls in all different sorts of people and makes them feel included. It’s a little ironic that something that goes under the heading of “weird” makes so many people feel not weird, though aren’t we all the better for it.

If you get a chance next time they’re out, you should definitely catch Welcome to Night Vale on tour. Until then, listen to the podcast, get the book when it comes out, and be thankful that we are all weird at last.

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