Here are some of the things that the people of the town of Night Vale find to be normal.
- a glowing cloud appearing and dropping dead animal carcasses all over the town
- an airplane disappearing in mid-flight and appearing in the elementary school gym for a few seconds before disappearing again
- hooded figures in the dog park
- antiques killing people
- radio interns dying
Here is one of the things that the people of Night Vale find abnormal and totally unrealistic.
Welcome to Night Vale is one of the most brilliantly weird horror comedy shows you will ever have the chance to hear. A podcast presented as a community radio broadcast for the desert town of Night Vale, it’s been described as “Garrison Keillor as written by Stephen King”. (Yeah, I’m basically a kid, but I know about Garrison Keillor.) The main character of the show is radio host Cecil Palmer, played by New York actor Cecil Baldwin, whose deep, resonant voice puts the town at ease in times of crisis. And yet when things get creepy, he has no trouble sounding ominous and terrifying. It’s truly brilliant.
Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the series has a new episode twice a month, and carries on multiple plots and subplots and recurring motifs and characters throughout. Pretty quickly you’ll find yourself also wondering who the man in the tan leather jacket with the deer-skin suitcase is, or what’s so terrible about neighboring town Desert Bluffs, or why no one wants to go to the library any more. (The answers being: we don’t know, they’re just terrible, and because the librarians might eat you.) The series never loses its sense of humor, however, especially through Cecil’s deadpan delivery and the way it puts super creepy things aside totally normal things. Plus, whenever a Word From Our Sponsors pops up, you know you’re in for one of the best made-up commercials ever.
Throughout all the insane happenings in Night Vale, Cecil must also deal with his crush on visiting scientist Carlos (Dylan Marron), who has perfect hair and perfect teeth and is studying Night Vale because it’s so damn strange. Carlos isn’t the only other character/guest star to show up though – you’ll also hear from Hiram McDaniels (Jackson Publick) who is literally a five-headed dragon, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home (Mara Wilson), Fey (Molly Quinn) the computer voice forced to read off numbers on a secret radio station, and local chef/restauranteur Earl Harlan (Wil Wheaton). Even you are the subject of one episode. Yeah, you. (Though spoiler alert: your story doesn’t really end well.)
Though things in Night Vale can get incredibly dangerous, what with the pyramids and the worms and the hooded figures and the blood space war, things always seem to resolve themselves in the end. Typically during the weather, which takes the form of a song submitted by a band every episode. And the music is damn good too – even more popular bands like the Mountain Goats and Against Me! have popped up as of late. All genres make appearances – beat poetry, comedy hip hop, rock, folk, electro-pop and more. You’re sure to find something you enjoy. Even the theme song and score by Disparition are wonderfully creepy.
Packed full of surrealism and imagery that would be terrifying if it wasn’t so deadpan hilarious, Welcome to Night Vale is hours upon hours of creepy fun that both horror and comedy fans can appreciate. The series is currently available on iTunes for free, as well as some live bonus episodes (yeah, they do live shows now too!) and crossovers with other podcasts you can purchase on their Bandcamp. Be warned, though: it is entirely possible you won’t be able to stop listening. (Make sure you start from the start!)
Oh, and be sure to follow the official Twitter @nightvaleradio: it’s just as cryptic, creepy, and hilarious.
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