Public radio program This American Life expanded its second-annual live theater simulcast to a full episode broadcast to more than 400 theaters nationwide last week. While the radio program itself will be aired May 1, the Fathom Events-produced evening was so popular that even out-of-the-loop nerds like me who didn’t partake can buy tickets to an encore of the same show on May 7.
The This American Life–Live! line-up included regular TAL contributors Dan Savage, Starlee Kine and Mike Birbiglia telling stories aloud accompanied by clips from the TAL TV show and other visuals and illustrations. I don’t see any reports of attendance numbers but many showings were sold out. One reviewer attests that nearly everyone who showed up to the actual live show at the Skirball Center at NYU was wearing glasses and was primed to love TAL host and hipster hero Ira Glass.
As a special bonus for the show, Joss Whedon, in his first-ever big live musical performance, played an alternate version of Heart, Broken from the musical commentary for Dr. Horrible. Could that be too esoteric even for This American Life‘s obsession with lovingly expressed oddity? Alternate lyrics for a song about the making of a musical parody that was only released online? Nah — It’s Joss Whedon; it’ll find its sliver of passionate audience. A bootleg video of Whedon’s performance is embedded above.
Fathom Events is the same company that live-broadcasts shows from the Metropolitan Opera (as well as other cultural touchstones, like Dr. Laura) to audiences in theaters nationwide.