What is Night Vale? Your Questions Answered
Floating cats, dog park and Carlos – beautiful, perfect Carlos. Denizens of the internet, especially those on tumblr, may have been getting confused hearing about these things. Pictures of hooded figures, radio presenters and people with a third eye are becoming commonplace, leaving people to ask ‘what is Night Vale’? Well, let me tell you.
What is Night Vale?
Night Vale is a small desert town in the American southwest. It is home to the ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ community radio broadcast, hosted by Cecil Baldwin, which keeps the population informed as to what is happening in the town.
What kind of things?
The activities of the sheriff’s secret police, the Valentine’s Day Massacre, angels doing housework, fake clocks, the secret world government operated secretly out of the sporting goods store, glow clouds, black helicopters…those kinds of things.
That doesn’t clear things up…
Night Vale doesn’t exist. It’s a fictional town. What people are fans of is the podcast ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, which is the radio broadcast for the make-believe town.
What’s in an episode?
News and gossip from around the town, upcoming events, politics, traffic. And the weather, which is actually music submitted by indie bands.
So it’s a fake radio show for a fake town?
Essentially yes. It’s a comedy show that riffs on b-grade sci-fi and horror tropes. The town of Night Vale is everything that ever happened in Twin Peaks, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits occurs on a daily basis. The people of Night Vale take all the cult activity, time travellers, supernatural occurrences and downright weirdness in stride as part of their routine, which is the basis of the comedy.
It sounds random.
Much of it is, and that’s part of the charm. Some of the most memorable moments are the ones that come out of left field, such as the appearance of a cat floating four feet of the ground in the men’s bathroom at the station. That isn’t to say that there isn’t some ongoing plots. The mysterious man in the tan jacket with the deerskin suitcase, the mayoral race between Pamela Winchell and a five headed dragon named Hiram McDaniels, and the Glow Cloud are all part of running stories. And Carlos.
Beautiful, perfect Carlos. With that hair.
This isn’t helping.
Fine, Carlos is a scientist who moved into Night Vale in the first episode. Initially he was only noted for his perfect hair. Carlos as served as the love interest for Cecil.
Who are these characters?
Cecil Baldwin, host of ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, is the main character and who features in about 95% of the show. There are many other characters but only Cecil speaks in the show. Through him we learn about Carlos, the Mayor, the Indian Tracker, Steve Carlsberg, John Peters (you know, the farmer), old lady Josie, the angels, and a number of interns to tend to die in horrible accidents.
The fans seem odd…
That they are. ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ has attracted a very focused, rather intense fandom. They have turned out some downright brilliant art work based on how they imagine the show and I think the show is richer for them.
Is it big?
It’s emerging. ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ is clocking 200,000 downloads a week and sits on the top of the charts for podcasts. They have a live show in New York in coming weeks featuring guest stars like Mara Wilson. If you remember that moment when Adventure Time tipped over from being a cult favourite into the only thing people were talking about, WTNV is at that moment.
How do I learn more?
Go and download and start listening! Find out why Cecil and Carlos are neat. If you don’t want to interact with the crazy fans you don’t have to, but make sure you check out some of the fan art.
Just remember: do not acknowledge the dog park.
If you know who created the art featured in this article please leave a comment so we can give proper credit!