Amidst the bewildering array of infotainment choices brought to us by modern technology, podcasting really shines these days as an artform that both accommodates busy schedules and provides ample scope for creativity. You can listen to a podcast while you’re running errands or washing the dishes or resting your eyes from being on the computer all day. And you get to pick and choose what worlds to explore.
One delightful option is Crybabies, an imaginative notion for an interview show dreamed up by actress Sarah Thyre and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean. The latter, based in Columbia County, has been on our cultural radar rather a lot of late. You may know her originally as the author of The Orchid Thief, but most recently she’s been stumping for her highly praised latest work, The Library Book, which focuses on an inquiry into a catastrophic fire of suspicious origin that devastated the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986, then muses in depth on the role of libraries and librarians in our lives.
The premise of Crybabies is that most people have certain things that reliably make them cry, and that some of those triggers are surprising, and that what people have to say about why that happens for them can be most interesting and relatable. Thyre and Orlean particularly like to invite interviewees who are known for being funny, and plenty of big-name comedy people have responded to their call.
Sometimes the hosts as well as the guests end up weeping on-air – even when the tear-inducing event shared is something as silly as a TV commercial. (The 1960s Kodak ad about a daughter growing up to the tune of “Turn Around” definitely did it for me, and odds are good that you’ve got one such embarrassing memory as well.) Movies are especially powerful wellsprings of cathartic tears. “If you can make it through the opening montage of Up without crying, you’re probably a psychopath,” Orlean told The Guardian in 2015.
Despite an announcement nearly a year ago that the series was in its final season, Crybabies seems to be enjoying a new lease on life in the form of a recording tour. Orlean and Thyre will visit the Fisher Center at Bard this Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. to tape an episode onstage. Their guests this time will include comic/actor/director/writer/critic/fellow podcaster Michael Ian Black, best-known for Wet Hot American Summer; comedy writer/performer and New Yorker regular Karen Chee; and Gary Shteyngart, an obvious choice for this show as the author of Super Sad True Love Story.
Ticket prices start at $25; to order, call (845) 758-7900 or visit http://fishercenter.bard.edu. And don’t forget to stock up on tissues.
Crybabies, Saturday, Mar. 2, 7:30 p.m., Fisher Center, Bard College, (845) 758-7900, http://fishercenter.bard.edu