Your favorite actors bringing great stories to life.
Here's the Latest Episode from Selected Shorts:
Guest host Kirsten Vangsness presents stories about the different shapes that loves takes. They show how “exquisitely OK it is to be ourselves,” she comments. In “Love and Hydrogen” Jim Shepard conjures up the breathtaking magic of travel by airship in his tale of doomed lovers aboard the Hindenberg. The story is performed by Sam Underwood. In Carys Davies’ “The Coat” a woman is surprised by her own feelings when she comforts a distressed neighbor. The performer is Becca Blackwell.
Guest host David Strathairn introduces two tales by master of mystery Agatha Christie, with special comments by crime novelist Megan Abbott and Christie fan Fran Lebowitz. Lois Smith performs “Miss Marple Tells a Story,” in which Christie’s spinster sleuth boasts a little, and Hugh Dancy reads “Accident,” about a woman with a dark past come to light.
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents three revealing first person accounts taking us from a crowded bus, to a suburban motel, to a Russian estate: “Hello?” by Dmitry Biriukov, performed by Mike Doyle; “How to Tie-Dye,” by Jenny Allen, performed by Jane Curtin; and “From the Diary of a Hot-Tempered Man,” by Anton Chekhov and translated by Peter Constantine, performed by Sam Underwood
Guest host Kate Burton presents four unusual love stories. David Galef imagines “My Date with Neanderthal Woman,” read by Giullian Yao Gioiello. It’s raining old boyfriends and ex-husbands—literally—in Marie-Helene Bertino’s “Edna in Rain,” read by Colby Minifie. An extra-marital affair becomes a comedy of errors in Sam Ruddick’s “Leak,” read by “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” host Peter Sagal. And Kathleen Turner performs Isabel Allende’s magical “The Little Heidelberg.”
Simon Rich has written for SNL, created the series Miracle Workers and Man Seeking Woman, and is beloved by people who actually read The New Yorker and don't just recycle it after seeing they didn't win the caption contest. Rich also has several story collections and this will be his second story featured on Too Hot.
Neil Patrick Harris is the actor who read this during a Sketchfest show in San Francisco. Harris does musicals, TV, high-profile hosting gigs, you name it. Listeners may know him as Barney on How I Met Your Mother, or as Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
After the reading, stay tuned for a great interview between host Aparna Nancherla and The New Yorker editor Susan Morrison who spills some secrets about what makes the perfect funny story for the iconic magazine.
Guest host Josh Radnor presents two stories about marriage and its challenges. In Helen Phillips’ “The Knowers,” a wife wants the answer to an ultimate question, but her husband does not. It’s performed by Stockard Channing. The “Three Little Maids” of Alix Ohlin’s story are a middle-aged man’s ex-wife, current wife, and daughter. The story is performed by Mia Dillon.
We want Christmas to be merry and bright, but sometimes the season can be challenging. Our two stories, presented by guest host Cynthia Nixon, do deliver good cheer in the end (and Nixon shares a few of her own holiday traditions). In Laurie Notaro’s “O Holy Night, or The Year I Ruined Christmas” there’s a hideous Christmas tree, and a demanding parent with a long memory. The hilarious tale is read by Kirsten Vangsness. In Jeanette Winterson’s luminous “Spirit of Christmas” a married couple set off for their holiday with frayed tempers and too much stuff. They wind up with nothing but a miracle. Christina Pickles is the reader.
On December 8, 2019 actor René Auberjonois passed away. He'll be fondly remembered and sorely missed by all of us at Selected Shorts. He was a VIP reader, one of those amazing actors who could bring any story to life, keeping audiences totally entranced. We never aired or released René reading this Philip K. Dick story. It was a little too long to put on the radio, but we want to share now. Please enjoy.
Guest host Hope Davis presents three works by the Southern master Carson McCullers. In “Correspondence” a self-important young woman is disappointed in her choice of pen-pal. Emily Skeggs is the reader. McCullers draws on her own childhood in “The Discovery of Christmas,” read by Amanda Quaid. And “Sucker” explores the troubled and complicated relationship between two teen boys. Michael Cerveris performs.
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents three stories where facts, beliefs, and fabrications coincide. Essayist Samantha Irby debunks nature, fresh air, and sunshine in “The Case for Remaining Indoors,” performed by Retta. Rebecca Makkai shares tattered facts about a terrorist in “Everything We Know About the Bomber,” performed by John Cameron Mitchell. And Michael McKean brings a difficult prankster father to life in Walter Kirn’s “The Hoaxer.”
Guest host Michael Cerveris presents stories in which trusting your senses is important. In Jeanne Dixon’s “Blue Waltz with Coyotes,” a rebellious farm girl flirts with danger. It’s read by Mia Dillon. And Aimee Bender creates a fairytale for our time in “The Color Master,” whose crafts is creating clothes that mirror nature. Denis O’Hare is the reader.
Just in time for the holidays, a story that will speak to any of us who sometimes can't shake the feeling that the grass is always greener. In a story that is at once utterly hilarious and achingly poignant, Katherine Heiny chronicles the ways in which we are unfaithful to each other, both willfully and unwittingly. This story comes from her collection called Single, Carefree, Mellow. Heiny’s work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and she recently published a novel called Standard Deviation. To read this story is an actor we simply couldn’t do without at Selected Shorts. Jane Kaczmarek has performed in everything from Long Day’s Journey Into Night to Malcolm in the Middle. After her reading, Jane talks with host Aparna Nancherla.
This story was performed as part of our show at the annual SF Sketchfest.