“Selected Shorts” is a weekly radio podcast broadcast to more than 100 stations, averaging 300,000 listeners, that presents short stories based around a theme brought to life by various actors. At SF Sketchfest, the podcast brought its own unique theme: stories that are “too hot for radio.” These stories are not allowed to be read on the radio because of language or content, so instead were recited live for an audience on Friday.
Hosted by comedian Aparna Nancherla, “Selected Shorts: Too Hot for Radio” included four short stories — written by Etgar Keret, Greg Ames, Katherine Heiny and Richard Bausch — each hilarious in their own right but amplified by the talented comedians voicing them, including David Cross, Lance Reddick, Jane Kaczmarek and David Strathairn.
Nancherla excelled as a host, effectively setting up each story and the comedian who would be reading it. She gave each story a content warning, which acted as a glimpse into what would entail but ultimately made fun of the censorship surrounding each story. One of them, “Benefactor” was deemed “too hot” because one of its central characters is referred to as “the Balls” throughout, while another story, “Cranberry Relish” was especially raunchy in its discussion of sex.
While every story contained its own unique humor, each was made particularly distinguishable by its actor, who fit the voice of each story seamlessly. Particularly notable was Kaczmarek’s performance of “Cranberry Relish” by Heiny, a story about a woman reminiscing on an affair she had with a man she met through Facebook. The humor of the story stems largely from the character of Josie’s life as a suburban mother and wife, with every mundane detail contributing significantly to the overall amusement.
To her credit, Kaczmarek stepped completely into the role of narrator, bringing a depth to this story and the character of Josie, which ultimately emphasized just how astoundingly smart and funny Heiny’s story truly is. This performance was more than representative of the effectiveness of reciting fiction out loud.
All in all, SF Sketchfest allowed for a night for these “too hot” stories to take the spotlight, and be embraced by an audience who clearly wanted and welcomed the exclusivity of these typically withheld stories.
Contact Nikki Munoz at [email protected].