March 7, 2018
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents four works about love and friendship, In William Goyen's "The Texas Principessa," read by Doris Roberts, a good friend leaves a stunning legacy. Jackie Hoffman reads an excerpt about a jilted lover from David Rakoff's final work, "Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish." A young couple have an idyllic day on the river in Rick Bass's "The Canoeists," read by Neil Patrick Harris. And Bill Irwin and John Lithgow read Edward Lear’s classic poem “The Owl and the Pussycat.”
February 28, 2018
Guest host Dennis O’Hare presents two unorthodox love stories. British writer Jane Gardam twists Hans Christian Andersen’s tale in a saucy reboot of “The Little Mermaid.” Her version, “The Pangs of Love,” is read by Jane Kaczmarek. And Sharon Gless performs “Hat Trick,” by Edith Pearlman, in which four young girls choose husbands by chance.
February 20, 2018
Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents stories by Joy Williams. In "Charity," a good deed turns into a worst-case scenario. The reader is Patricia Kalember. The late David Rakoff performs Williams' “Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child,” a cautionary tale. And Williams herself reads an excerpt from her story "Escapes," in which a child learns what is magic, and what is not.
February 11, 2018
Just in time for President’s Day we offer two stories about big shots, presented by guest host Jane Curtin. First, classic humorist James Thurber imagines what happens when an aviation hero has feet of clay. “The Greatest Man in the World” is read by Michael Ian Black. And former President Bill Clinton makes a cameo appearance in Meera Nair’s warmly funny tale of a village in Bangladesh about to be rescued from “centuries of obscurity.” “A Warm Welcome to the President, Insh'Allah!” is performed by Aasif Mandvi.
February 1, 2018
Guest host Jane Curtin presents two stories featuring unconventional families. A young girl is raised by a group of warm-hearted “Big Mamas” in Shay Youngblood’s touching coming of age story, “They Tell Me, Now I Know,” read by Viola Davis. In Jai Chakrabarti’s “A Small Sacrifice for An Enormous Happiness,” forbidden love affair and a marriage of convenience promise two different futures. The reader is Bhavesh Patel.
January 15, 2018
Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories about imagined worlds. In “The Dreamlife of Toasters,” by Heather O’Neill, an android falls in love, and there are consequences. The reader is Yvette Nicole Brown. In Stefan Zweig’s “The Invisible Collection,” a blind man is able to “see” priceless drawings. It is performed by René Auberjonois
September 18, 2017
Bruce Jay Friedman has been hailed by critics as a comic genius, a writer whose vision confronts the malaise of contemporary life with a liberating deadpan humor. Friedman has published several novels, multiple collections of short stories, four plays, and several works of nonfiction. His short story “A Change of Plan” was adapted by Neil Simon and Elaine May into the movie The Heartbreak Kid. He wrote the movie scripts for Doctor Detroit, Stir Crazy, and Splash, for which he received an Oscar nomination and the Steve Martin film The Lonely Guy was based on Friedman’s book. Our reader is celebrated actress Sigourney Weaver.
July 25, 2017
A poignant, funny, melancholy story about a man whose wife leaves him for a ping pong player. It was written by the fiction writer and playwright, Joe Meno, who has contributed several great stories to Shorts over the years. The reader is actor, comedian and writer Michael Ian Black (Wet, Hot, American Summer, and The State). Later in the show, Aparna gets Joe on the phone to talk about this story, writing, and driving a delivery truck.
June 25, 2017
Our story today addresses, or should I say undresses - why snacking on your underwear might not be all that’s promised on the box. In this hilarious story written by Tony Tulathimutte, the narrator, played by actor Maulik Pancholy, is taking on the edible underpants industry. Later host Aparna Nancherla talks to the author about where he got his inspiration from...