Cecil Gershwin Palmer
|Image created by Melissa Shaw|
|Occupation||Radio host and Journalist|
|Affiliations|| Night Vale Community Radio|
Steve Carlsberg (stepbrother, and also Janice's stepdad)
Old Woman Josie (friend)
|Known Physical Features||Not short or tall, fat or thin|
|Voice Actor(s)||Cecil Baldwin|
|“||A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale.||”|
At times, Cecil will report on events as they are occurring. It is mentioned he often receives faxes and phone calls from listeners on events, as well as updates from his surviving interns out in the field.
He lives in an apartment of currently unknown location in Night Vale and is also mentioned as owning a car.
It's likely that Cecil is, like the majority of Night Vale residents, human, describing himself as such in passing several times. He is also described by both himself and by Kevin as "a man."
He may not have eyes, as he accuses Kevin of lacking eyes, while Kevin says their eyes are the same. However, Steve Carlsberg seems very struck by Kevin's eyes and doesn't comment on Cecil's.
He is described from a photograph as being "not short or tall, fat or thin. With hair [resembling Kevin's], a nose [resembling Kevin's] and eyes [resembling Kevin's]." He also wears a tie, at least in the photograph.
Cecil describes his first date outfit as "my best tunic and furry pants."
Cecil is a very genial person and seems very well acquainted with the folks about town. But he has something of a dual personality. He can be serious and cheerful by turns, switching between extreme tones at the drop of a hat.
He seems very fond and proud of Night Vale, despite its horrors (many of which he has experienced firsthand) and often provides comfort for the residents of the town during times of uncertainty or danger. Though he is quick to praise the City Council, the Sheriff's Secret Police, and their draconian policies, his views on many social issues seem surprisingly free-willed, and he even occasionally calls out the town's crooked politicians on air, despite the risk of retaliation. As befits his dual nature, he also sometimes makes strong statist statements out of the blue.
His broadcasts require a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance. Often, they are internally contradictory, contain impossible instructions, or are banned midway through and must be renounced. Cecil occasionally gets in trouble with Station Management for describing things which are indescribable or discussing things that are not supposed to be discussed, and he openly worries that he will get in trouble with the authorities. Despite this, he remains enthusiastic about nearly all upcoming events, even those involving death and destruction—so long as they are scheduled by the city's leaders, of course.
Cecil often comes across as a decent, kind, and ethical person, and describes himself as such. But in cooperation with the authorities, he seems perfectly comfortable with legalized murder, using the radio audience's collective mind power to kill an unknown driver in a lake, and keeping a man in a cage of electricity at the zoo. He is rarely malicious, but his treatment of Telly the Barber makes his potential for cruelty obvious. His obliviousness about the radio station intern turnover rate is alarming; he seems genuinely hurt and offended by the suggestion that there's anything wrong with his management style.
There are times when Cecil's cognitive dissonance becomes obvious. In a set of cassette tapes he made as a teenager, we hear fifteen-year-old Cecil already struggling to rationalize his family's strange behavior towards him, and that struggle continues in his adulthood. His broadcasts sometimes evoke the disconcerting sense that Cecil's personal thoughts differ from the words he's actually speaking, even if Cecil himself tries to repress it. It's implied that he's become very good at ignoring the discrepancies in his own memories. He even destroys his adolescent cassette recordings because he can't remember or accept what they reveal about his life.
Cecil's sense of self-preservation is often as questionable as that of the town's other residents. Notably, in the episode Subway, he leaves the studio to board the menacing Night Vale subway system, despite the fact that he hasn't seen anyone exiting it and his intern never returned from riding it. However, Cecil is certainly not immune to horrors and is rendered genuinely helpless and terrified by some events. Most notably, when he is stuck in Kevin's hellish recording booth in Desert Bluffs, he becomes extremely distressed by the blood, organs and other viscera coating the room (especially the recording equipment). He's also described cowering under his desk in fear while being hunted by his menacing boss(es?), the Station Management. He also curses and cries when he thinks Carlos may have been killed.
Cecil was born and grew up in Night Vale.
He sings Night Vale High fight song in the episode Cassette, and he says he played Pippin in his high school's avante-garde production of the musical "South Pacific." He was a member of the Night Vale boyscouts, earning an Advanced Siege-Breaking Tactics badge at the age of 12 and a Subversive Radio Host badge at an unspecified age.
Cecil was interested in radio hosting early on. At age 15, he started recording himself enthusiastically imitating previous NVCR host Leonard Burton. While recording these cassette tapes, he began to see a mysterious flickering out of the corner of his eye which increased in frequency when he spoke or sang. Eventually, Cecil did land an internship at NVCR, and got to work with his idol, Leonard. But the mysterious flickering got stronger and apparently attacked him. What happened afterward is unclear, as Cecil's current memories don't mesh with the contents of the cassette tapes. Indignant and confused, he destroyed the tapes and vowed to forget.
Cecil claims to have traveled to Europe after college, though it is unclear whether the events he describes actually took place. Cecil specifically mentions the countries of Svitz, Franchia, and Luftnarp, and seems completely unaware that they don't actually exist anywhere in Europe.
Otherwise, he has never mentioned leaving Night Vale and seems unaware of conditions outside of it. He does not have much knowledge of astronomy, as he does not know what the moon is (although he does make various statements regarding Night Vale's secret outer space operations) and doesn't believe in mountains (perhaps due to civic pride). He often doubts his own existence and the existence of other people.
He had a major role in the rebellion against StrexCorp in the episode Parade Day, being attacked by Lauren and Kevin when the rebellion failed. He was captured after the events of Parade Day and taken to the Strexcorp Company Picnic . Afterwards, in Renovations, he described the picnic in cold, uncensored detail.
Recalling his perspective as a very young child, Cecil briefly talks about his mother, who is described as being as strange and disconnected as the other town residents. Cecil talks about her staring blankly into his eyes and saying, "Someday someone will kill you, and it will involve a mirror." He also notes that he misses her.
Later, from his perspective as a teen, he talks about his mother again. She apparently gifted him a cassette recorder for his 15th birthday, but other than that, is again described as being very disconnected and strange, something Cecil struggles to comprehend. When she hides from him for over 3 days (the longest she's ever been gone before), he is clearly confused by her absence, but tries to attribute this to her being proud of him and his recent internship at the station. Following from her earlier warning, Cecil's mother covers all the mirrors in their house before she disappears.
Also from his perspective as a teen, he mentions his brother, who he had a strained relationship with. It's not mentioned whether he is older or younger, but the way he is spoken of implies him to be older. His brother was apparently "disappointed" with him and told him he would never make it in radio because he didn't have the right voice for it. He's also described as glaring at Cecil from across the breakfast table with hollow eyes and howling. Adult Cecil claims not to remember him at all.
Cecil later says that his mother and brother are "gone now." He tries to shrug it off as being normal, but still sounds decidedly confused as to why or where they've gone, although he tries to hide it. Their fate remains unknown. Cecil never mentions his father.
In the episode The Lights in Radon Canyon, Cecil says he learned the following adage from his grandparents: "A life of pain is the pain of life, and you can never escape it—only hope it hides, unknown, in a drawer like a poisonous spider and never comes out again, even though it probably will, in unexpected and horrific fashion, scaring you from being able to comfortably conduct even the most mundane, quotidian tasks."
In the episode Cookies, it emerges that Cecil is related to Steve Carlsberg, whom Cecil has always shown a great dislike for. This episode strongly implies that Cecil dislikes Steve because Steve is a careless and inattentive stepfather to Cecil's niece, Janice, who belongs to the girl scouts.
In the episode Old Oak Doors Part B, Steve Carlsberg implies Cecil is his stepbrother. For Steve Carlsberg to be Cecil's stepbrother, as well as Janice's stepfather, one of Cecil's parents would have had to remarry someone who was a parent to Steve Carlsberg, making him a stepbrother. Then Steve would have had to marry Janice's mother in order to be Janice's stepfather. This opens up the range of possibilities for the identity of Janice's mother and biological father.
Carlos the Scientist: Carlos is Cecil's current boyfriend.
Cecil fell in love with handsome new scientist in town, Carlos, instantly in the first episode, and Cecil's open and complete adoration for him features prominently on the show, with Cecil frequently gushing in lyrical prose over his beautiful appearance and great intellect. It's made very clear that Cecil isn't simply admiring Carlos from afar and does in fact wish to date him, even giving Carlos his home phone number in the hopes he will call. Carlos, however, is initially either unaware of Cecil's affections, or willfully chooses to ignore them, only ever contacting Cecil on matters of business. It's only after a near death experience in episode 25 that Carlos finally calls Cecil for "personal reasons" and, after sharing a tender moment together in the Arby's parking lot, the two finally begin dating.
Scout Master Earl Harlan: Earl Harlan was Cecil's childhood best friend. They were in the Night Vale boyscouts together. It is implied in episode 23 (Eternal Scouts) that Cecil probably had been (or was about to be) in a relationship with him. Earl grabs Cecil's arm during an interview at the station and sadly tells him, "We could have had something, Cecil. Always remember that." Earl is later dragged away by strange mute children, but Cecil wistfully mentions later that he often thinks about Earl's last words to him.
The Beautiful Young Man From Luftnarp: Cecil talks about meeting with a "beautiful, ashen faced young man" in a local alehouse in episode 21 (A Memory of Europe), with whom it's implied he was on the verge of being in a relationship with before they parted ways at the end of the episode. The man sees Cecil off as he boards the bus home and, as the man turns to leave, Cecil wistfully laments over, "this thing between [us], that seemed so possible now already and forever never was."
Intern Dana: Cecil seems to have a fond friendship with Intern Dana, the only intern he shows any prolonged concern for. They are Facebook friends and keep in contact via text, phone calls and astral projection when Dana is trapped in The Dog Park, The House That Does Not Exist and later when she is traversing the desert that contains The Blinking Light up on the Mountain (later revealed to be a lighthouse that somehow enables travel through time and space) and the Masked Army (whom she, as of A Story About Them appears to be leading)
Old Woman Josie: It's mentioned that he used to go bowling with Old Woman Josie and the two used to play on a team together. They speak to each other like old friends, although it seems they haven't been keeping up with each other as much since the bowling alley was invaded by tiny people and Cecil and Carlos started dating.
Cecil harbors a deep disgust for the following:
- Desert Bluffs, presumably because of town rivalry.
- the Apache Tracker, for being a racist and culturally appropriative "asshole".
- Steve Carlsberg, who has an annoying habit of pointing out what he considers the flaws in such noble municipal projects as government-approved clone sandstorms and the construction of a drawbridge in the desert, and recently revealed to be Cecil's stepbrother and a deadbeat stepfather to Cecil's niece, Janice (along with accusations of Steve being a gambling addict, and having horrible taste in shoes),
- Telly the Barber, for cutting Carlos' beautiful hair short.
- He has also had a major distrust of new station owners StrexCorp, while never publicly stating so on air (aside from a brief pirated message), he has tried to subtly show his displeasure with their rise to power. This has seemed to hit a new peak after their StrexPet severely injured Khoshekh, an event that clearly left Cecil highly disturbed, and implying a desire for revenge. This ultimately led to Cecil helping Tamika Flynn lead a rebellion against StrexCorp, that is ultimately stopped by the rest of the town's unwillingness to fight StrexCorp, leading to the rebellion being captured (including Cecil being surrounded by Lauren and Kevin).
- He shares his first name with his voice actor, stage actor and director Cecil Baldwin, who lives in New York. As of Cassette, we find out that he does not share the rest of his name with the real-life Cecil, which many fans had previously assumed was the case.
- Cecil Baldwin said in a Nov 15 2013 interview, that the character's surname of Palmer was chosen by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor as an homage to David Lynch's cult classic horror series, Twin Peaks. Presumably it is a reference to the character Laura Palmer, whose murder most of the series revolves around.
- Actually, there were a bunch of important Palmers in Twin Peaks. There was Laura's father, the singing, dancing, literally demon-possessed Leland Palmer (who Intern Leland was presumably also named for). And there was Laura's suffering, broken mother, Sarah Palmer. Laura and Leland were both central to the defining mystery of Twin Peaks, and so I don't think you can really say Cecil was named in honor of one specific Twin Peaks character.
- He claimed to be fighting lyme disease during Station Management, though we haven't heard anything else about it since.
- He seems to enjoy alcohol, and is mentioned getting tipsy on cheap wine during his college days while in Europe and leisurely drinking brandy while on the phone to Carlos.
- He seems to be fond of westerns, he mentioned enjoying the 1965 western comedy movie Cat Ballou so much that he's unable to tear himself away, missing an important phone call, and Carlos suggested that they could rewatch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
- He also mentions being glad that he got to see how popular TV series, Breaking Bad ended.
- He has admitted to owning a hamster with an unknown name, but the hamster died two weeks after being in Cecil's care.
- He has claimed to be a dog person and not fond of cats, but has grown very attached to Khoshekh, the floating cat in the men's bathroom at the station. He also gushes over the cuteness of a cat video he saw on the Internet.
- He has a Tumblr blog. He uses it to share his wood carvings of Khoshekh.
- He has written a Jaws slash fic, which he got intern Maureen to copy-edit.