Because if I can’t make this post during our crazy, theme-less December , I probably won’t ever get to blog about this.
As I mentioned in my previous post– I love audiobooks. And yet, I never really got into podcasts. Until, that is, Welcome to Night Vale. WTNV is a bi-monthly podcast that is written by the ridiculously talented Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink. It is, essentially, the news broadcast of a fictional, American desert town called Night Vale. And you may wonder what Night Vale is like, but I think I’ll let you keep wondering. All I’m going to say is that it is like a town that was founded by Lovecraft and built by Gaiman. (So, if you like either of those guys, you’re probably in it for the long haul and don’t have to read the rest of my raving.)
The podcast itself fluctuates between the odd, the creepy, and the adorable. I cannot actually stress how amazing the writing is. The format of a news broadcast ought to be pretty restricting but the writers of WTNV have conspired to make it anything but small and ordinary. As always, we start out with Cecil’s welcome …
followed by the sports section, a message from the sponsors, a gobbet from the guests, or even community notices …
and towards the end, always the weather …
The broadcast is then concluded with Cecil’s parting thoughts, which could range from truly poignant, bone-chillingly disturbing, concerningly outrageous, or all of the above!
Oh, yeah, and this is yet another fandom that has skillz, with a “z”.
In the end, the sense of routine only serves to make Cecil’s digressions more enjoyable. Like that one time, all Cecil wanted to do was talk about his date with perfect Carlos or that other time Cecil had dedicated the entire episode to you. Yes, you:
What is awesome is that no one knows what any of the characters look like (except maybe for perfect Carlos with his beautiful hair), and that just adds to the sense of mystery:
It’s interesting, you know, the fact that no one knows what most of the people look like. We very intentionally leave off most physical description, unless it’s for like a joke, like mentioning that someone has spider eyes or something. Other than that, we tend to leave out physical description … so if they’re faceless, we might mention that they don’t have a face, but we don’t really get into hair color or height, or things like that … I get a lot of emails every day being like, ‘tell us exactly what Cecil looks like,’ and then a bunch of other emails every day, being like, ‘never tell us anything about what Cecil looks like. – Welcome To ‘Night Vale’- Watch Out for the Tarantulas.
There are times when you feel like Night Vale is Cecil’s idea of a joke, or that maybe Cecil is dreaming all of this up, or worse, he is the only one who sees the world for what it is. Cecil is in himself such a fantastic character. He is our unreliable narrator, our hero, and our every man. And even though Cecil is almost always reporting on and talking about the people of his town, we get such a deep understanding of who Cecil is- and that’s just one of the many examples of good storytelling right there.
Of course, Cecil is nothing without the incredible voice talent behind him- Cecil freaking Baldwin. Baldwin, who did not even suspect at first that his character would be called Cecil, recently lent his voice to Book 8 of The Bane Chronicles … but even then I couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps Magnus was visiting Night Vale. (He wasn’t. Though that would have been a fun crossover!) His voice just makes the show and often I cannot tell where the writing ends and where Baldwin begins because both have so much to do with the success of the show.
Basically, this podcast is fun and special and so intelligently done. If you need more convincing, here is a sampling from their excellently curated Twitter account:
I do hope some of you end up checking it out, and I look forward to chatting about it sometime in the new year! Until then- goodnight readers, goodnight.