#sxsw2016: i heart ira

sxsw 2016 has been officially over for a little while now and in that time i managed to drop my iphone in water. not sure yet whether the data that was on that phone will be recoverable, and one of the biggest losses i’m feeling is my notepad where i was jotting down all the wise words and hot tips and fun anecdotes my favorite panelists were sharing during the film and interactive festivals. thank god the good folks at sxsw taped a lot of the sessions, including the ira glass conversation that mark olsen led.

so much great stuff happened at that talk.

first things first: ira glass is a dreamboat. as with lots of the folks on NPR whose voices i recognize, i didn’t know what he looked like. and then he walked out in all his tall, lanky glory, with wavy, dark hair, silver at the temples, bold, dark-rimmed glasses that didn’t hide the twinkle in his eye, and a sharp-looking blazer with a button-down and slim jeans. i attended the talk with a girlfriend of mine who was completely atwitter before the talk even began. as the hour went on, her crush became our crush.

his easy-going demeanor, constant grin, and earnest desire to answer his interviewer’s questions well were totally charming.

he discussed topics like his start in radio, his evolution as a journalist, this american life, of course, and he mused on the success of serial, praising julie snyder and the folks who produce the show and believed in the concept when he was skeptical. he had some interesting insights into the boon to shows like his that came with the emergence of podcasting technology and itunes as a distribution platform. and he shared about getting into filmmaking, producing 2 films with mike birbiglia.

toward the end of the hour the questions from the audience started, and 2 awesome things happened.

  1. he got a request to make a balloon animal. the woman asking had seen him speak in austin on a prior occasion and he had made one then. drawing a balloon from his bag, he began to make a blue poodle for her, explaining that he had done magic tricks at parties as a kid and that he always carries balloons with him for occasions such as these…and when he was a guest on ask a grown man. this segment alone is worth watching in the video of the talk–it starts around 52:20.
  2. and then the director of “thank you, del,” who was a fan of ira’s famous thoughts on taste and talent, asked if there was any follow-up ira wanted to offer. his response: do it now; don’t wait.

if you ever get a chance to hear ira glass speak, do it now; don’t wait.

and don’t ask him for a selfie; ask him for a balloon animal.