David Rakoff died on August 9, 2012. He’d appeared on This American Life 25 times, first in 1996, during the third month of the show; his last appearance was just a few weeks before he died. He was on the program so often that in putting together this week’s show, we realized we could tell a lot of his life story, simply through things he said on the show. So this week we do just that, with excerpts from some of his favorite stories over the years.
David’s first battle with cancer came at age 22. Years later, he wrote about the experience. From episode #156: What Remains.
We also hear an excerpt from one of Terry Gross’ interviews with David on Fresh Air.
A never-before-aired story about the Broadway musical Rent.
W hear the first time David appeared on our show, in a courtroom radio drama in which played a cat who was also the prosecuting attorney. From epsiode #12: Animals.
Then a story David co-wrote and performed with Jonathan Goldstein, originally for the CBC’s Wiretap, about a man who believes he’s turning into a cockroach and reaches out to a famous doctor for advice. Except the doctor will only respond in rhyme. David plays the doctor. From epsiode #470: Show Me The Way.
David demonstrates — in rhyme — how to make a wedding toast for people you never wanted to see married in the first place. From epsiode #389: Frenemies.
The show also includes never-before-heard excerpts from David’s book, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel. David recorded these less than two weeks before he died. David’s other books are Don’t Get Too Comfortable, Fraud, and Half Empty.
David in our cinema event from May.