Insomnia (2001)

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The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
Larry Block, Zak Block, Joe Frank
57 minutes
Preceded by: Cave Dreamer
Followed by: Always

This morning, as is my habit, I wake up at dawn and immediately my mind begins to spin out one angry, despairing, ugly thought after another.

Insomnia is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on January 14, 2001.


Joe wakes at dawn (as is his habit) and obsesses over his peeves. He begins with a 'former, slightly-built, KCRW recording engineer from Pakistan'[1]. He borrowed $1,000 from Joe, disappeared without paying Joe back.

3:50: Larry describes an article in Architectural Digest about Robert Redford's NYC penthouse. Larry says he could have had that penthouse had he chosen as Redford did.

7:00: Joe tries to get back to sleep by thinking good thoughts, but gets angry at his mother's cat, Prince.[2]

8:10: Larry recurs to his appearance in 'The comedy of errors' in 1975; he encountered the director, John Pasquin, recently, feels that he hasn't lived up to his promise in 1975.

11:40: Joe tries to stop his angry thoughts, but gets angry about the recent loss of the recordings of 25 of his shows over the last 1.5 years. Joe imagines attacking someone at the station, the scandal that would follow.

13:10: Larry tells Joe that Zach and his friend are waiting for their dope. Larry contrasts Jack Kornfield and David Sedaris.

17:50: Still unable to sleep, Joe upbraids himself for his anger again, 'You're like that guy in Massachusetts who killed all those people at that dot-com company'[3]Joe imagines going to a shooting range and killing himself to stop his angry thoughts.

19:00: Larry describes a golf tournament between teams of fathers and sons, the affection the fathers and sons show each other, including kissing, how much worse his relationship with Zachary is. Larry reads his poem, 'Sunday afternoon'.

22:00: Larry and Joe talk about Larry getting a gun and shooting himself.

23:50: Joe remembers he has to make an appointment for a cystoscopy, which he dreads.

24:20: Joe talks of Ira Glass, how successful he has become with This American Life compared to him, wonders why he puts up with the stress of making his show for so little money.

25:30: Larry tells Joe he won't go to Pittsburgh for Romeo and Juliet because Zachary is in such distress, needs his father.

27:50: Joe thinks of Kate, imagines the great things she's doing with all her Hollywood friends, has jealous thoughts, tries to stop them.

28:50: Joe notices how old his skin looks, imagines how bad his health must be, imagines killing himself on the radio.

31:20: Zachary reads a poem about insomnia and more.

34:50: Larry tells Joe that this poem is great for Zachary.

37:20: Joe recounts the death of Ollie, the dog of his neighbors, Skip and Carly. They're going to have him cloned - no one loves Joe that much.

38:50: Joe dials Kate's number New Year's Eve to wish her a good New Year, but can't leave a message on her machine.

39:20: Joe tries to get to sleep by imagining sleeping under an oak tree.

40:00: Joe tells Larry he and Kate aren't in touch but he thinks about her every day.

41:00: Kristine and Joe go to a party Sunday afternoon. Joe doesn't want to be there so stuffs himself, suffers flatulence.

43:20: Joe recalls trip to Palm Beach 2 weeks ago to visit his mother. At LAX he used an out-of-order toilet, flooded the floor.

45:30: At the carwash (the Speedway on Little Santa Monica Boulevard), waiting for his car, Joe talks to a woman. She tips $5, which makes Joe feel cheap for his $2 tip; he asks the woman if he should trade his house for his maid's - she has a large family, after all.

48:50: Larry tells Joe about watching a TV show showing a polar bear eating a walrus.

50:50: Joe listens to a voice-mail message from Larry, a poem about his son and his son's friend. He sounds drunk.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Monologues mixed with telephone conversations, listed here out of order.
  • Monologue: Joe awakes at night angry and dreaming of revenge. He wants to get even with his former recording engineer who borrowed money and never paid it back. He thinks of attacking his mother's cat, fighting with people at the studio because they lost the masters for 25 past shows. He resents Ira Glass's success. He imagines suicide on a shooting range, or in the studio. He think of Kate's friends, of his own aging, contemplates elderly wild animals. Joe tried to call Kate on New Year's Eve. He thinks of friends who have frozen their dead dog in the hopes that they will be able to clone him. Joe compulsively eats at a party, passes gas in public. He removes a plastic cover from a toilet at the airport and floods the bathroom. Joe meets a woman at a car wash, fights over the tip, contemplates swapping homes with his housekeeper, losing faith because of the brutality of nature programs.
  • Telephone dialog with Larry Block: Robert Redford's interior decorating. Checking the obituaries for people who die at the same age as him. Former colleagues who've become famous. An interview for a film with an old friend. Comparing Jack Kornfield and David Sedaris, Joe and Robert Redford. Larry talks about walruses indifferent to a polar bear attack on their neighbors in a nature program. Larry reads a Shabbat poem.



  • There are two programs with this title: this 60 minute program which aired as part of The Other Side and a 30 minute program which appeared as part of In The Dark in 1995.
  • Includes loops of the Lomax Parchman Farm recordings.


  1. sounds like Theo Mondle
  2. Joe talked about Prince in Bitter Pill.
  3. Wakefield massacre