I know I’m late in the game (by a lot) but I discovered the joy of podcasts in the spring of 2015, about the time when I started Uber driving. It’s a great way to keep your mind busy while you’re doing mundane driving and/or waiting for passengers. I started off by listening to “The Moth“, which many friends had told me about over the years, and of course I loved it. I probably don’t need to tell you about it, but basically it involves live personal narratives told by volunteers. The stories are not allowed to be written down, but are instead told off the top of one’s head (with an expected amount of rehearsal). The stories are always entertaining, but vary from hilarious to horrifying.
Eventually I fell upon the podcast “Risk!” which is very similar to “The Moth”, but involves a story that is much more “edgy”. The ongoing byline is that these are stories the tellers “never thought they’d dare to share”.
Many of the storytellers are everyday people (I am still waiting for my submission to be approved by the founder, Kevin Allison), but often the stories are told by professional comedians, actors, writers, podcasters, or storytellers. If you are the kind of person who gets swept away in a personal story, this podcast is for you. They are compelling tales that prove that truth is very much stranger than fiction. My personal favorite stories are the “Scary Stories” which take place around Halloween, and “Scary Stories 9” did not disappoint. The story called “The Siege” by Ansley Isham is a chilling tale of a young woman’s lonely experience dealing with the mental deterioration of her mother. I felt a kinship with this woman because of my own odd personal experiences with my mother, but never had I gone through an incident quite like the one Isham narrates.
As an “everyday” person who longs to be a professional writer, I can’t help but be magnetized towards this podcast. The stories are not for the squeamish, and some are downright disturbing, but I find them inspiring in that I realize I have quite a few interesting stories of my own. In fact, if I hadn’t stumbled upon this podcast, I may never have ventured back into the world of writing.
Creator Kevin Allison is one of my favorite people by far, and not just because he is a ginger like me. He is most well known for his role as a writer and performer on the show The State on MTV from 1993-1995, back when I was in high school. The Risk! show started live August 2009 at Arlene’s Grocery in New York and moved to Joe’s Pub in October with guests like Margaret Cho, Rachel Dratch, Michael Ian Black, Andy Borowitz, and Janeane Garofalo. Risk! is also a monthly live show that takes place in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, while also making stops all over major US cities. Allison has appeared on recent TV shows such as Reno 911!: Miami, The Ten, Wedding Daze, VH1‘s Best Week Ever, IFC‘s Comedy Bang Bang and HBO‘s Flight of the Conchords.
If you are a fan of thrilling true stories that contain such sound clips as “and now I’m running down this mountain, with this piss all over my leg, and all I can think is that I never thought a Tinder date would turn out like this” from the story Mountain Cry by Sammy Sponenburg, then I highly recommend checking out Risk! today (or most likely tonight, after the kids have gone to bed).