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 6, 2018
Guest host David Sedaris presents two stories about important relationships, and one playful spoof about the lives of celebrity chefs. In Donna Tartt’s “The Ambush,” two children wage guerilla warfare; it’s read by Patricia Kalember. Author Leonard Michaels recalls “My Father’s Life,” as read by Isaiah Sheffer,” and Mario Batali lets us in on “The Secret Lives of Chefs.”
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 21, 2018
Guest host Jane Curtin presents three stories in which small things count for a lot. A discarded sock reminds one woman of her ex-husband in “The Sock” by Lydia Davis, read by Kaneza Schaal. Sisters find a Scrabble at a department store in Meg Wolitzer’s “Deep Lie the Woods,” read by Blythe Danner. And old-time jazz musicians and their funny clothes, food, and drink charm a young drummer in “Nightblooming,” by Kenneth Calhoun, read by Josh Charles.
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
January 8, 2018
Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman hosts a program featuring two of his own stories and a classic by John Collier. The title says it all in “When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11¼,” read by “Criminal Minds” star Kirsten Vangness. Gaiman himself reads John Collier’s eerie “Evening Primrose,” about a secret society that inhabits a large department store. And we finish with another Gaiman, “July Tale,” in which a lovesick husband builds an igloo out of books. Gaiman reads.
January 3, 2018
Guest host Denis O’Hare presents three stories that take things to extremes. In Simon Rich’s “Distractions,” we learn about a global conspiracy. Errin Hayes reads. The misanthrope in Douglas Lawson’s “Love in a Kitchen Garden” is cruel to his garden gnomes. Richard Kind reads. And Maulik Pancholy performs Emily Buckler’s “Brand Values,” a reality-bending tale about high-end leather.
December 27, 2017
Guest host Jane Curtin presents two stories about marriage. In “Any Number of Little Old Ladies,” by Bruce Jay Friedman, a playwright uses his wife as a character and she’s not thrilled. Blythe Danner and Maulik Pancholy read. Another marriage is at risk in Roxanna Robinson’s “In Naples,” a trip that forces one woman to confront her feelings about her husband. Betty Buckley performs this delicate story.
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...