My crazy friends and I from NPR’s Snap Judgment are coming to rock Los Angeles this Saturday, October 12, and I’m not going to lie. I’m kind of excited about this one.
The show is at the beautiful Nokia Theatre, where they just had the Emmy’s last month. Now I’m not saying Tina Fey or Aziz Ansari are going to be in the audience at our show. But if they are…I am definitely making out with both of them. Aziz first.
Doing this show in the heart of Hollywood is actually a contrast of artistic creativity. Warner Bros. and Sony can dazzle audiences with crazy sci-fi tales and million-dollar special effects. Meanwhile, the only things you’ll see on a Snap Judgment stage is the performer, their story, and a mic. Yes, we get to have a band for the live shows – and yes, that band is fucking awesome – but what we’ll be doing at the LA show is the same thing that griots did in ancient Ghana, that bards did in medieval Ireland, that my grandfather did every year at the head of the Passover table.
We tell stories.
That’s it. The same thing that you do at the bar with your friends. We just take it a little more serious. We pass down traditions. We make connections and expose the contradictions. (Mostly our own.) And we talk a lot of shit in the process.
My grandfather was the greatest storyteller I ever met. Number two was my grandma. Number three was Dave Chappelle.
That should give you a fair assessment of the diversity of this thing called storytelling. Now that NPR has gone all-in with the genre (think This American Life, The Moth, RadioLab, etc.), storytelling has become associated with middle-aged white people. And I love middle-aged white people (hey Mom! hey Dad!), but the truth is that most of the most creative, beautiful, brutal stories are being told and lived outside that narrow box. My man Glynn Washington (Snap Judgment host aka “NPR’s Great Black Hope”) can’t do it by himself. Spoken word and hip-hop helped bring poetry back to all the people — is there going to be a similar movement in storytelling?
In the meantime, we’ll come to LA and do what we do. I’ve got a brand new story that I can’t wait to share with the crowd. The whole show is going to be ridiculous. If you’re anywhere near LA this weekend, make sure to buy buy your tickets before they sell out.
Here’s a sneak preview of what you can expect in LA. These are a couple of my favorite performances from the Snap Judgment show we did in Ann Arbor, MI over the summer.
First up, Shannon Cason. Shannon is a brilliant writer and ridiculously funny performer out of Chicago. What I love most about Shannon is his understated humor — and that he makes fun of religion even more than me. See what Shannon has to say about his time as a street evangelist.
Next we’ve got the one and only James Judd. This guy is a one-man, off-the-wall performance powerhouse. Subtlety? That shit is overrated. Give me James Judd doing his thing any day of the week. And not just on stage. I’ll take James Judd in a courthouse. Watch this clip and you will too.
And last but definitely least, here is my story from that Ann Arbor show. This one is about my grandma, Dorothy Healey, the second best storyteller and the single greatest revolutionary I’ve ever known. That didn’t stop me and her from having our own conflicts, of course. This is the story of an especially delicious one.