The power of stories is growing, as a vehicle to explain science, as a platform to showcase companies, as a tool of political activism. It occupies a respectable place next to stand-up comedy.
It’s not surprising, then, that a stand-up comic is organizing a storytelling event. It’s called A Funny Thing Happened: A Night of World Class Storytelling, and that funny thing is going to happen at Folktale Winery. Comic Dave Nihill doesn’t want this to be sad and wrenching tales that he describes as, “And then they died. Thank you.” He’s got six performers, including himself, ready to unleash one true story each that’s relatable, human, funny, entertaining. Laughter, he says, is certain.
“In Ireland, we’ll find humor in the most tragic circumstances,” Nihill says. “Funerals are our biggest parties. Storytelling comes natural to Irish people.”
He and his cast of storytellers are practiced in captivating audiences. Don Reed was the 2016 Snap Judgement Performance of the Year with his memoriam recollections on his brother/sister, “I Miss Toni.” Brandon Spars has won two Moth Grandslams and has released a book collection of tales. Samantha Gilweit is a single mother, comedian and producer of the hit San Francisco show Cheaper Than Therapy. Stand-up comedian Phil Griffiths has been on Comedy Central’sClusterfest Showcase and Sketchfest.
Scott Sanders is a veteran. He’s told stories in the Moth Grandslams and Moth Mainstage events, on NPR’s Snap Judgement and throughout the Bay Area. He says performance storytelling may not be as extemporaneous as it appears.
“Most storytellers craft their stores in advance,” Sanders says. “I write it out and work on it architecturally – the highs and lows. Then I try to forget it, so it can be told more as a story.”
Sanders’ storytelling is buoyed by his being a “lightning rod for unusual events.” He’s been kicked out of China and Yugoslavia. He was arrested in the Congo and needed State Department help to get out of it. He’s had Bob Dylan splayed out across his lap in a taxi cab. For his Folktale Winery performance, the former New Yorker has got a doozy that involves Lou Reed, Charlton Heston and an airport luggage cart at JFK Airport.
Nihill calls storytelling a cultural experience, and thinks the venue’s array of food and wines is ideal: “It’s ripe for storytelling,” he says.