Selected Shorts

Selected Shorts

United States

Spellbinding short stories by established and emerging writers take on a new life when they are performed by stars of the stage and screen.


Too Hot For Radio Bruce Jay Friedman “The Tax Man"  

Bruce Jay Friedman has been hailed by critics as a comic genius, a writer whose vision confronts the malaise of contemporary life with a liberating deadpan humor. Friedman has published several novels, multiple collections of short stories, four plays, and several works of nonfiction. His short story “A Change of Plan” was adapted by Neil Simon and Elaine May into the movie The Heartbreak Kid. He wrote the movie scripts for Doctor Detroit, Stir Crazy, and Splash, for which he received an Oscar nomination and the Steve Martin film The Lonely Guy was based on Friedman’s book. Our reader is celebrated actress Sigourney Weaver. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Growing Up  

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about growing up.  In Stephan Enter's "Resistance," teenagers at a local chess club are suspicious of their new teacher.  The reader is Michael Cerveris.    And sassy Hazel Parker speaks her mind in Toni Cade Bambara's "Gorilla, My Love," read by Hattie Winston. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Reality Checks  

Guest host Josh Radnor presents two stories about expectation, hope and disenchantment.  A navy wife isn't charmed by the Riviera, until a chance encounter changes everything, in Richard Yates' “Evening on the Côte d’Azur," read by Edie Falco.  And a video parlor run by a lonely widower is the source of solace and catastrophe in an early George Saunders story.  Josh Radnor reads  “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Needy People  

Guest host Josh Radnor presents three stories about needy people.  An online dating service promises to help a guy with really big problem in Ramona Ausubel’s “You Can Find Love Now,” read by Martin Short and Amy Ryan.  Kate Burton is the impetuous mom in Dave Eggers’ road story “The Alaska of Giants and Gods.”  In Aimee Bender’s “Loser” a gifted young man can find anything.  Linda Emond reads.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Social Studies  

Guest host David Strathairn presents four works that teach us a few things: how to eat a bony South African fish, in Calvin Trillin's "Dissed Fish," which he reads himself.  How to write a great term paper according to Kurt Vonnegut. His "assignment" is read by B.D. Wong.  How to breakup with your girlfriend, in "The Breakup Ceremony," by Toure, read by Maulik Pancholy.  And how to humiliate yourself in public--Seth Fried's "The Frenchman" is read by Tate Donovan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Too Hot For Radio Simon Rich “Guy Walks Into A Bar"  

Author, former SNL writer, and creator of the FXX show Man Seeking Woman Simon, Simon Rich wrote a humor piece in The New Yorker that’s a dark yet sweetly hilarious take on the classic 12-inch pianist joke, and just like that, it was all over social media. Just in case you need some extra encouragement, Conan O’Brien tweeted it and called it “the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.” Host Aparna Nancherla calls Simon Rich to discuss his story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Magic and Realism: Clarice Lispector  

Guest host Sonia Manzano presents works by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector.  Carolina Ravassa reads "Remnants of Carnival," in which a little girl is briefly transformed.  Denis O'Hare tells an eerie tale of a strange marriage in "The Obedient Ones," and Lynn Cohen is a scary matriarch in "Happy Birthday." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Love 2.0  

David Galef imagines “My Date with Neanderthal Woman,” read by Giullian Yao Gioiello.   It’s raining old boyfriends and ex-husbands—literally—in Marie-Helene Bertino’s “Edna in Rain,” read by Colby Minifie.  An extra-marital affair becomes a comedy of errors in Sam Ruddick’s “Leak,” read by Peter Sagal.  And Kathleen Turner performs Isabel Allende’s magical “The Little Heidelberg.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Lovers and Gangsters:  Richard Price Favorites  

Guest host Josh Radnor presents two stories that are favorites of novelist and screenwriter Richard Price ("Lush Life," "The Wire") and Colson Whitehead remembers his personal New York.  Maggie Gyllenhaal reads Isaac Babel’s tale of local crime and politics, “The King,” and Rita Wolf reads Lucia Berlin’s odd love triangle, “The Love Affair.”  Whitehead’s “Lost and Found” is read by Alec Baldwin. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Too Hot For Radio Episode 24 Joe Meno "Everything Strange and Unknown"  

A poignant, funny, melancholy story about a man whose wife leaves him for a ping pong player.  It was written by the fiction writer and playwright, Joe Meno, who has contributed several great stories to Shorts over the years. The reader is actor, comedian and writer Michael Ian Black (Wet, Hot, American Summer, and The State).  Later in the show, Aparna gets Joe on the phone to talk about this story, writing, and driving a delivery truck.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Episode 23 Tony Tulathimutte "Saint Pantaleone"  

Our story today addresses, or should I say undresses - why snacking on your underwear might not be all that’s promised on the box.  In this hilarious story written by Tony Tulathimutte, the narrator, played by actor Maulik Pancholy, is taking on the edible underpants industry.   Later host Aparna Nancherla talks to the author about where he got his inspiration from. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Episode 22: Stephen King “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation”  

Back by popular demand, actor Stephen Lang reads, “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation”, a -shall we say- intense story about family, love, and dying by Stephen King (yes, THAT Stephen King). Host Aparna Nancherla talks to Stu Tinker, a Stephen King superfan from King’s hometown of Bangor, Maine (get ready for that accent!). For nearly 20 years he’s been giving tours to spots that have inspired so many of author’s stories. 

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Episode 21 Aasif Mandvi “Born Again”  

From actor, writer, comedian and the former Senior Middle East Correspondent on The Daily Show, a sweet, funny story about nerdom and outsider culture taken from his memoir, No Land's Man.  Published in 2014, No Land's Man chronicles Aasif’s life as an Indo-Muslim-British-American and gives a first-hand look at the American immigration experience.  After the story, Aasif calls in to talk to Aparna about his book and the current state of affairs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Welcome to Selected Shorts: Too Hot For Radio  

Over the years, Selected Shorts has recorded amazing stories that due to language issues or content advisories were, well, too hot for radio. Now we've unlocked the vault and we're bringing you all the steam, gore, and profanity that makes the FCC crazy in this new podcast.  Hosted by comedian Aparna Nancherla, you’ll hear from some of our authors like Chuck Palahniuk and Simon Rich and readers like RISK podcast host Kevin Allison, and who knows who might pop into the studio to let us know their thoughts?  Welcome to Selected Shorts: Too Hot For Radio! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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