So, a storyteller walks into a bar … The final show of Here:Say Storytelling’s regular season happens Monday, May 16 at 7 p.m. (free, donations appreciated!), at InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City. We check in with Here:Say founder Karen Stein to get a little perspective on what to expect from a Traverse City event titled “So, a storyteller walks into the bar …”

For those who haven’t been, the format of the Here:Say Storytelling event is eight people (give or take) have 10 minutes each to tell a true story based on the night’s theme. Beverages available; takeout food welcome. Know this: HereSay is good, stout, strong, memorable. You owe it to yourself to check it out.

Read this Traverse Magazine feature about Here:Say Storytelling!

Clue us in on the evening’s theme. Where did that evolve from?
“So many stories happen in a bar. Liquor has that special effect. It loosens up some of us. Makes some of us hostile. Leads to interesting connections. It just seemed like a great social space from which to draw stories. Early on I had wanted it to be all bartenders, but when I approached some, none of them wanted to speak in front of a crowd with a microphone. I started to wonder if there was some kind of bartender HIPAA thing that makes them keep everything confidential.”

The title suggests comedy …
“Well, yes, this particular title does suggest it will be all jokes. But no, it’s not a standup comedy show. It will not be all jokes. Most shows are a combination of humor and serious. A person approached me one time and said he prefers more funny stories, to which I said, ‘Life isn’t always funny, and these are stories about life.’

“I never really know what to expect a theme will pull from people, truth be told. In our February 2016 show, the theme was ‘Forbidden.’ And I expected all sex, drugs and rock and roll, and instead people went really deep. There was a story about a suicide attempt, a story about an inappropriate relationship, a story about medical complications. But I will say the ‘Awkward’ show had people laughing a mile a minute.”

I think people appreciate a mix of humor and serious. How does that work?
“Many of us deal with hard things by making jokes. Even if I’m telling a serious story, I find space to crack a joke. But if you are going to take a serious story and include something funny, it’s important that it doesn’t minimize the serious thing. It’s that balance about finding what’s funny without undercutting what isn’t funny.”

Share a little bit about what we can expect Monday night. Toss us some teasers.
“Well, hmm. It’s really hard to do that without spoiling a story. But I can say all the stories are really different, and to me that’s one of the most exciting things about Here:Say Storytelling. You take one theme, and they all share that one theme, but the stories are all so different. They’re not all, ‘We went into a bar and got drunk and mad capperie happened.’ There’s a nice range of ages too.”

Note: Though this show ends the regular season, special shows are being discussed for summer. Check the Here:Say Traverse City Storytelling Facebook page for details on events like the Up North Pride show, June 20.

Photo by Here:Say Storytelling

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