A Little Light Mockery


For all you This American Lifers out there. I am told this is funny; I couldn’t listen to enough of it to find out because it seemed like a good impression of Ira Glass and his vocal mannerisms make me insane.

(I wrote a draft of a thing called “Why I Hate Your Favorite Show” a few months back which was me trying to be hilarious about why I don’t like TAL–in truth I don’t–but then I sort of got sad about the practice of slagging on things other people love as a form of wit, so I killed it. Maybe we can have a huge flame war about it in comments!)

10 responses to “A Little Light Mockery”

  1. lane says:

    cute… sorry that’s all it gets. a mother love, cute.

    admire the effort though, great editing on the gross interview. hope it lands him a gig with SNL…

  2. Tim says:

    The one thing of which this guy doesn’t do enough in his IG impersonation is the faint — but significant to my ear — ‘g’ before an ‘l’ that precedes a vowel. FPS, you probably know the linguistic term for it, but I think IG adds a tiny bit of glottal consonant to the primarily lingual ‘l’, e.g., instead of “believe”, he’ll almost say “beglieve”, but it’s not as pronounced as that, more like “be(gh)lieve”, like he’s making the ‘l’ at the very back of his throat. Crazy it makes me. So affected it sounds.

    Michael Silverblatt also does this, but even more strongly. Listen for it the next time you hear him say his name. It’s like he’s saying “Michael Silverbglatt”.

  3. LP says:

    Flame war! Flame war!

    I do like TAL, but I also listen to it only rarely (when I happen to be in the car at the right time, or when we think to download episodes for long drives.) Things I love about it: the story selection is usually excellent, there are often surprises, Ira Glass is clearly a curious and intelligent curator. Things I don’t love about it: Yeah, it’s pretty formulaic. Tinkle-tinkle music, those portentous pauses, the general hipster overlay of it.

    And yet: It’s really effing hard to put together something of this high quality week after week after week after week, so all in all I give TAL a thumbs up. Despite the soft glottal weirdness of Ira Glass’s delivery. Which Tom Brokaw also has, and which was brilliantly parodied here. (As well as many other places.)

  4. Tim says:

    Ooh, that’s right! Brokaw does it, too, and even more so.

    In general, like you, LP, I am an admirer of TAL, when I hear it, despite, as you point out, its Law-and-Order-esque adherence to formula. I won’t defend it to the death or anything, or even seek it out, but I also won’t turn it off if it’s on when I’m in the car.

    Did anyone else hear the one from this last weekend, about the NY cop who was secretly recording his colleagues’ various misconducts? Damn.

  5. KS says:

    I’m an IG/TAL fan of many years but not to the point of making a point of listening to it very often. I find it very exciting when I happen to be in the car when it’s on, but I drive so little, and listen to radio in the house almost never, that it’s a rarity for me to listen to it unless I download eps to the ipod, which can languish there for years before I listen to them. Alas…

    I got to hear/see IG give a talk about a month ago, and it was very cool and upped my fandom significantly. He’s so wry and funny off the cuff that it actually makes me think his program is less scripted and just simply a reflection of him and his amazing mind. But boy was I taken aback, I mean downright floored, by the worshipping of Ira G. at this event. He didn’t merely get applause or even a standing ovation, but a foot stomping cacophony of sound in a small chapel meant for playing orchestral music that felt and sounded like armageddon. The dude was a total rockstar to faculty and students alike in attendance, and frankly, that level of enthusiasm seemed unwarranted for anyone. I sat there thinking, “what am I missing about this guy that makes me not want to stamp my feet on the floor with all these weirdos?”

    So I’m equivocal, apparently. I like more than I love IG. Never noticed that glottal consonant thing Tim mentions so I’ll be sure to listen for it. And then it will probably start to irritate me, too. Nah, he’s too cute. I’ll never turn on him, even though at the show I saw no “Ira Glasses” were given out to audience members.

  6. swells says:

    Reaghlghly, you think that glottal bumpin’ is affected? I can’t imagine why someone would WANT to affect that. It’s almost a speech impediment, albeit an endearing one.

    The way Greg and then Lane set this up, I felt I could not say that I loved it and retain any legitimacy, so I am pretending not to think that it’s a perfect impersonation and an incredibly produced segment, one whose details I would not be able to appreciate were I not a frequent ghlistener.

  7. AWB says:

    Swells, I linked to this same video on FB because I found it hilarious. I think only fans might?

    The ghl is, pardon me, I believe a Jewish-from-Yiddish thing? Sephardim don’t do it, just Ashkenazis. Not a speech impediment!

  8. Mister Smearcase says:

    Curiously, as someone who is borderline obsessed with American regionalisms, I never noticed this at all and am still not at all sure what to make of it.

    The Jewish-from-Yiddish thing I’m inclined to accept–at first I couldn’t think of anything phonetically native to Yiddish (in my rather limited knowledge) that would motivate this, but what I think might make some sense is if more Russian-influenced varieties of Yiddish had carried the Russian “dark L” into English. It’s the L sound that lies back in the throat and might sound guttural or add a “backness” to vowels around it. I’ll have to listen to the Brokaw impression again and see if that’s what it sounds like. Um, Brokaw<–Brokowski or something? I didn't think he was a M.O.T. And, no, the internet informs me, once I'm past the scary Nazi pages that come up when you google "tom brokaw jewish" that he's Irish and Huguenot and Brocaw<—Broucard. Go know (or as we say in Yiddish, "gay vice" I mean "geh weiss.") Still…

  9. Dave says:

    There are two things going on with TAL/IG worship. One, there are all the tics and idiosyncrasies. That’s what you consciously notice, and they either turn you off or make you want to have Ira Glass’s spider babies. But I think what’s really compelling about the show, although it’s not what people articulate first, is how good it is, week after week. I disagree that it’s particularly formulaic. Or at least, the formula is more like the formula for New Yorker articles than for episodes of Law & Order. There’s a lot of variability inside the stories and episodes. It’s just that they have (often) the same people and (always) the same goddamn soundtracks over and over. I agree with LP that it’s kind of amazing they achieve such consistently high quality.

    The video was kinda funny. My favorite part was the idea of having Ira shtup Teri Gross, whom he idolizes and who is a total star-fucker.

  10. J-Man says:

    Erm, I always thought that it was just a speech impediment – a lazy-tongue kinda thing.