Welcome to Night Vale brings surreal storytelling to New Orleans


Hannah Renton

Actors Symphony Sanders and Cecil Baldwin get in formation during Welcome to Night Vale’s live performance at the Civic Theater March 31, 2021. Welcome to the Night Vale is a supernatural radio show for a nondescript, fictional South Western town.

Artie Bennett, News Editor

Welcome to Night Vale returned to the stage and ended the podcasters’ two-year touring hiatus last month.

After shows in Washington D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia the podcast performed live in New Orleans at the Civic Theater March 31, 2022. A labor of love, the podcast is celebrating its ten year anniversary this year. What started as a group of friends coming together to keep themselves entertained has turned into an entire world – composed of standalone live shows, books, and even potential tv pitches. 

“We’re going to figure out different ways in which Night Vale can exist in the world and all in ways that involve us getting to write and have fun writing,” co-creator Jeffrey Cranor said. 

Welcome to the Night Vale is a supernatural radio show for a nondescript, fictional South Western town. In this town, the paranormal is normal. A faceless old woman ran for mayor. A giant cloud hypnotizes the townspeople. Every conspiracy is real. 

The surrealist podcast is written and was created by Cranor and Joseph Fink. The show is hosted by the character Cecil Palmer, voiced by Cecil Baldwin, who interviews recurring characters, played by actors like Kate Jones and Symphony Sanders, who joined Baldwin on the tour. The podcast features “the Weather,” a song produced by independently published artist Mal Blum, who also joined the tour from March 28 to April 5. Musician Disparition joined the tour as well, playing live music to set the scene. 

When the podcast was in its early stages, nearly a decade ago, Cranor said Welcome to Night Vale was just a “thing friends do together,” but within a year, the project took off, he said.. Cranor added that  the podcast team started performing live shortly after their start and quickly gained an audience. 

“When you have more audience than cast members, you’re doing awesome,” Cranor said of the show’s initial success. 

Since the podcast’s start ten years ago, Cranor said that its creative approach has changed significantly. He attributed its change partially to the writers growing creatively but also because satire has changed in the last ten years, he said. Cranor also  said that  some of their more satiric characters are losing their comedic charm because of the absurdity of real life people. Cranor used former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as an example of this.

“We had a character… and every press conference she calls is something super bonkers, and she avoids everyone’s questions,” Cranor said. “Then Sean Spicer shows up and we’re like, ‘You’re stealing our character.’ It just makes (the character) less funny at that point when you have a character like that in real life.”

Though the podcast’s run is nearing a decade, Cranor said that they have no intention of stopping anytime soon. 

“We’ll just keep doing it forever, and we’re ten years into forever and like, wow, how does time work?” Cranor said. “…We still have a lot more energy and excitement for writing.”

Welcome to Night Vale’s “The Haunting of Night Vale” tour runs through June 24 in the U.S. and through October 2 in Europe.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on April 11 at 12:13 p.m. to reflect that Welcome to Night Vale performed live in New Orleans.