10 episodes

Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.

This American Life This American Life

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 4K Ratings

Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.

    306: Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

    306: Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

    A girl signs up for a class. A couple hires an accountant. A group of co-workers decides to pool their money and buy a couple of lottery tickets. In the beginning, they're full of hope and optimism — and then something turns. Stories of good ideas gone bad.

    Prologue: Paul was a cop. One night he was pulling second shift when he had a perfectly good idea: He'd stretch out in the back seat and take a little nap during his break. He fell right asleep, and slept well until he woke up and realized the funny thing about the back seats of cop cars: The doors don't open from the inside. Paul is author of the book Bad Cop: New York's Least Likely Police Officer Tells All. (8 minutes)

    Act One: It was two months into the tour. Katie Else and the rest of the Riverdance cast had been performing eight shows a week. They decided to pool their money for the Mega-Millions lottery. Lotto fever gripped the cast. They started to genuinely believe they would take home about $2 million each, and quit Riverdance the next day. They took the stage the night of the drawing and pulled off their best performance ever, "For the Lotto!," trying to direct their energy towards the win. An hour later, at the hotel bar, the numbers came in. (17 minutes)

    Act Two: After years of neglecting their personal finances, Joel and his wife finally decide to sort things out. They hire a tax accountant named Len, whose casual manner is a real comfort, at first. But then, "casual" turns into "drunk" and then it's clear that he's just plain delinquent. Joel tries to take his business elsewhere, but Len refuses to let go of their file. He begs for a second chance, which it seems, came too late. Joel Lovell is executive editor at Pineapple Street Media. (8 minutes)

    Act Three: Davy Rothbart was on a 136-city tour appearing on morning TV talk shows to promote his book Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World. Just before one appearance he had what seemed like a great idea at the time. Without letting the host know, he tested it out, live, on-air. Davy is the creator of Found Magazine and author of the book of essays My Heart Is An Idiot. (6 minutes)

    Act Four: When Elspeth was a girl, she wanted nothing more than her father's attention. He was busy, a doctor, and distant. One day he agrees to put on a volunteer seminar for their church, about his area of expertise: "The Function of the Heart." Elspeth and her best friend are the only two kids who show up, and Elspeth is attentive and engaged, the perfect student. It was an incredible experience for her, the best day she's ever spent with her dad...she thinks. That is, until her mother takes her aside and explains her big mistake. (8 minutes)

    • 59 min
    564: Too Soon?

    564: Too Soon?

    It can be hard to know the right moment for something to happen.

    Prologue: When Jordan was going into his senior year of high school in small town Utah, he and his buddies all lived together in a house, daring each other into Jackass-style pranks and stunts. There's one particular thing Jordan did that he did not want to talk to Ira about. (10 minutes)

    Act One: Harmon Leon is a writer and comedian whose cocktail party story about “the-weirdest-gig-I-ever-did” is more weird—by a lot—than anyone else’s we’ve heard. He answered an ad several years ago that called for a hilarious sidekick to a celebrity on a hidden camera show. (30 minutes)

    Act Two: One of the show's producers, Zoe Chace, tells Ira about a joke she made pretty soon after
    something terrible had happened.

    • 1 hr
    828: Minor Crimes Division

    828: Minor Crimes Division

    People taking it upon themselves to solve the tiny, overlooked crimes of the world.

    Prologue: Host Ira Glass bikes around Manhattan with Gersh Kuntzman, in search of illegal license plates. (11 minutes)

    Act One: Writer Michael Harriot reexamines the DIY criminal justice system his mom invented to deal with his bad behavior as a child. (20 minutes)

    Act Two: Producer Aviva DeKornfeld talks to Caveh Zahedi about a crime he may or may not have committed, depending on who you ask. (7 minutes)

    Act Three: Micaela Blei accidentally solves a crime that had been going on for a long time, right under her nose, and has to decide what to do next. She told this story onstage at The Moth. (7 minutes)

    Act Four: Editor Bethel Habte examines video evidence of two parents trying to get to the bottom of a minor crime committed in their own home. (7 minutes)

    • 59 min
    587: The Perils of Intimacy

    587: The Perils of Intimacy

    Mysteries that exist in relationships we thought couldn't possibly surprise us.

    Prologue: Ira talks to Rachel Rosenthal, who spent years trying to figure out who had stolen her identity. She was closing bank account after bank account, getting more and more paranoid, until she realized she knew exactly who the thief was. (5 minutes)

    Act One: Ira’s conversation with Rachel Rosenthal continues. She tells the story of why it took her so long to break up with her boyfriend, even after she figured out that he had stolen from her. We heard about Rachel's story via the podcast Risk! (9 minutes)

    Act Two: Producer Neil Drumming conducts an experiment to find out: can two adults, both new in town, become friends, with the right help? (16 minutes)

    Act Three: Comedian Kyle Mizono, in a live performance, tells about the time she met her hero, spent a week working with him every day, and it went really well. And then, she emailed him. (10 minutes)

    Act Four: A short story by Lydia Davis about trying to calculate the cost of a love affair. The story is read by actor Matt Malloy. (12 minutes)

    • 1 hr 2 min
    827: All the King's Horses

    827: All the King's Horses

    The things we break and the ones we can't fix.

    Prologue: Ira tells the stories of three things that broke–two of them in his own family. (8 minutes)

    Act One: A teenage whiz kid invents a new toy for Milton Bradley. Then the trouble starts. (28 minutes)

    Act Two: Reporter Dana Ballout sifts through a very long list—the list of journalists killed in the Israel-Hamas War—and comes back with five small fragments of the lives of the people on it. (10 minutes)

    Act Three: A skateboarding legend makes a final attempt at a high-flying trick. (6 minutes)

    • 1 hr
    826: Unprepared for What Has Already Happened

    826: Unprepared for What Has Already Happened

    People waking up to the fact that the world has suddenly changed.

    Prologue: Jackson Landers tells the story of a very strange decision he made one summer day. (6 minutes)

    Act One: Elena Kostyuchenko tells the story of how she was probably poisoned after reporting on Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, and how she kept not believing it was happening. Bela Shayevich translated this story from Russian and reads it for us. (21 minutes)

    Act Two: A recording of comedian Tig Notaro in the process of trying to catch up to the present and absolutely not being able to. (8 minutes)

    Act Three: Producer Zoe Chace with a political fable that she noticed playing out last week in North Carolina. (11 minutes)

    Act Four: Producer Tobin Low finds a group of people with a special relationship with the idea of catching up. (10 minutes)

    • 1 hr 2 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
4K Ratings

4K Ratings

jenniknow ,

A must listen. Unsurpassed in originality.

This is what podcasts are about. Interesting engaging content that narrated using clever phrasing that keeps the listener interested. The storytelling links together in psychologically deep and meaningful ways but doesn’t demand any intellectual greatness to understand. We are just human beings. Being and doing stuff that sometimes means stuff and sometimes doesn’t. Thats real life. This is real stuff. It’s my go to recommendation when someone asks for one. Not everyone can take it. A metaphor I think for real life. A lot of people can’t take it. But it’s brilliant. If you’re truly open to self examination and the compassionate examination of the human condition.

lordAlfieClutterbuck ,

THE Podcast

This is the podcast that defined podcasting. Ira’s et al. presentation, meter, and general demeanour are unsurpassed.
The stories are insightful; delivered in a manner that enriches the listener.
This American life has positively impacted my English life.

AnnabelleKennedy1 ,

The best podcast ever

The OG podcast - never listened to anything which compares. An absolute delight every week. Whenever anyone asks me what to listen to, this is always my first suggestion.

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