Emerald City is hosting a wide array of comic book creators, media guests, and gaming opportunities in the Seattle area right now but a unique crossover is not happening on the comic book page. And some cosplayers at ECCC are not dressing up as characters from comic books and TV but from podcasts … Theresa Tyree spoke with the creators of the Thrilling Adventure Hour and Welcome to Night Vale at ECCC to find out about this unique event (with a little assist from Ian Melton).
Perhaps you’ve been hearing the words “Welcome to Night Vale” lately, circulated on the tongues of excited young people in a space near you. Perhaps you’ve even heard about the laughs to be had at The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s glamorous venue in Hollywood. But, I bet you haven’t heard about the collaborative crossover live show that these podcasts are putting on together this March 29th in the Moore Theatre of downtown Seattle, Washington.
Welcome to Night Vale is the new hit podcast that recently started doing live show tours across the United States. The podcast is done in the style of small town community radio of the tiny desert town called Night Vale where every conspiracy theory is true. The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a stage show in the style of old-time radio in which handsome performers that you know from television, comedy, animation, and film get dressed up and hold scripts and act all form of genre entertainment. The audio of these stage shows is then released as a podcast.
It all started when writers of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, discovered a little podcast called Welcome To Night Vale, and fell in love. Welcome to Night Vale was definitely a smaller show back then, not having taken the podcasting crowd by storm just yet, but was the sort of show that Acker and Blacker wanted to support. Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the writers of Welcome to Night Vale, took notice of their new admirers and Acker and Blacker’s podcast. As it happens, when two sets of writers take a shine to each other’s work, a collaboration isn’t far behind. From what Blacker, Fink, and Cranor say, the crossover show was always something they intended to do. Both shows were in the style of radio, both shows made their audiences laugh, and both shows were now doing live shows.
“This particular show has only been in the works for about a year,” said Fink, “but we had always hoped to be able to work together.”
The live show is something that Fink and Cranor and Acker and Blacker came to from different backgrounds with their respective podcasts. The Thrilling Adventure Hour has been a stage show for nine years, having only started podcasting about four years ago. Welcome to Night Vale began solely as a podcast that then began to put on live shows due to popular demand. But, even though both shows had experience writing live shows by that point—which, according to both sets of writers, have to be written to take an audience’s energy into account—there were still some things to work out.
What the podcasts needed more than anything was something to unify them. The Thrilling Adventure Hour picks their content based on what they want to put their characters through that week and is written in a way meant to make people laugh fully and often. Welcome to Night Vale picks content that pushes the abilities of their lead actor and the voice of Night Vale Community Radio, Mister Cecil Baldwin and is written as the writers’ gut feels it needs to be, with a smattering of jokes sprinkled in. Although iTunes lists both podcasts under the “comedy” genre, the label fits The Thrilling Adventure Hour more aptly than it does Welcome to Night Vale; so the challenge for the Night Vale and Adventure Hour crossover live show was figuring out how to balance the two different moods.
“I think it was kind of a struggle figuring it out,” Blacker said, “I feel like when it clicked for all of us was when we came up with the central event of the show.”
Blacker described the characters of his and Acker’s show as “problem solvers.” When the characters are faced with the supernatural or the absurd, they confront it and deal with it in the most humorous manner possible. The denizens of Night Vale, however, when faced with the supernatural and absurd simply accept it as the normal events of day-to-day life.
Fortunately, comedy is comedy. “You can always identify the straight man in a scene, or the misunderstanding,” said Cranor.
Understanding the kinds of characters they were working with, what they wanted to write, and their audience, Acker, Blacker, Fink, and Cranor were finally able to create a crossover they all liked.
When asked what they hoped their audiences would gain from such a show, they said this: Aside from giving both sets of fans a really good time, they hope to introduce fans of both shows to each other. After all, these shows are about community.
If you’re a fan of one or both of the shows, but are still on the fence about attending the crossover or any of the other live shows, allow me to present to you the wise words of Cecil Baldwin: “There’s a big difference between listening to your favorite podcast through your headphones, alone in your room in Kansas and listening to it in a room with 600 other people who love the same thing.”