Comedians live some pretty crazy lives… I guess you need a certain amount on insanity to inspire the occupation of the jester. Kevin Allison’s podcast Risk! True Tales, Boldy Told ranks up there with WTF with Mark Maron as one of the few places where you can hear comedians speak frankly about the life decisions that brought them to where they are now. This installment of Risk! allowed us the opportunity to hear from five comics about some of the stranger things that have happened to them.
Kevin Allison, our host for the evening, opened up with a brief tale about the evolution of the show. It was inspired by a one man show that he did at a Sketchfest many years prior. He explained that he was attempting many different characters, yet all of them fell flat. His friend, Michael Ian Black told him that he should stop with the characters, and just be himself, to be honest. The Risk! concept was born out of that, where people would tell stories as themselves, and be open and honest.
This evening’s Risk! theme was “How Bizarre.” Since these are all comedians, and comedians have a great way of finding weirdness, obviously that meant that things were pretty good. And as the night progressed, things got progressively weirder. The show opened with a set by Nikki Glaser. It takes a true talent to take one very, very brief story, and stretched it out to about ten minutes. Her tale of finding a small item in her vagina was classic. Her energy was spectacular, and she kept you waiting for the punchline, only to hit it out of the park when you least expected it.
The second performer was Kerri Kenney-Silver. She is generally best known for her work as an actress, not a stand up comic. I think that her lack of experience in the stand up world only helped this performance. She kept her bit loose and conversational. It was like hearing a friend tell you a story, albeit a story about her husband taking her on a secret trip to Burning Man using 3 different modes of transportation. It was great to see a person known for absorbing into a character simply being herself.
Next up: screenwriter and former Reno 911 cast member Robert Ben Garant. These two facts about him matter. He told a tale of hosting a screenwriting workshop for professional “cowboys.” And these cowboys kept referring to him as Travis Junior. Since you will be able to download this whole podcast in a few weeks, I really don’t want to spoil the story. It was one amazing story, and it featured the line “I knew I was sober because of the sheer amount of cocaine I took.”
The astounding tale of drugs and oil rigs and shamans that Garant spoke of was not the strangest tale. Natasha Leggero took things to the next level. Of course, Leggero could read the phone book and know how to make it both funny and embarrassing. She just knows how to punctuate a punchline. Since her tale was the story of her working meeting an older Australian gentleman, and then moving in with him in Australia. Hence kicking off a series of wonderful and hysterical bad decisions. There was nothing dirty in this story, no drugs, violence or sex. Yet, it was totally awkward.
Closing the show out was Joshua Grannell. Grannell is the alter ego of Peaches Christ, renowned drag icon and midnight movie host. Grannell, at least as Grannell, may have been the least famous person on the bill. At first I thought that this decision was a mistake. Then, or course, he owned the show. He told a tale of his portrayal of Joan Crawford at a wealthy person’s baby shower. Complete with insane party planner, wealthy people dressed as babies, and an ice sculpture shaped like a decapitated pregnant woman, where the drinks were iced by being run through her body and coming out the nipples. It made me wish I was rich enough to be incredibly weird.
Risk! was a great experience live, and is one of the finest podcasts on the internet. Possibly the finest podcast outside of the internet, too!