Themed night of storytelling and stand-up blends the tragic and comic in an involving way
By Gabrielle Nash / Jester correspondent
The Liar Show, a high-concept blend of comedy and storytelling seen at the 92Y Tribeca on January 19, blends funny moments with serious ones as five performers try to convince the audience that all their stories are true. (In this performance, two of the five had fictional tales).
Picking the fake stories among those delivered by this group of skilled performers – the Liar Show has run in different venues around New York regularly for years, usually with different storytellers every time – was actually a challenging task on this night. Comedian Colin Dempsey’s true story of the perceived origin of a pair of shoes he bought, and the luck they may or may not have brought him, while living in Australia was artfully constructed in a way that made it seem false. Monologist Leslie Goshko told her story, about where a pet mouse ended up, in such believable fashion that many were convinced it was true.
Jim O’Grady, an author and reporter, gleefully told a tale that was more obviously a constructed fiction, in which he unwittingly donned attire while interacting with black children living next door to him that made it seem as if he were getting a thrill from acting like a Southern plantation owner.
Writer/director Tracy Rowland and author Kambri Crews told personal stories with serious focus and resonance, but still managed to play up certain comic aspects. Rowland, recounting what a character her father was – and not always in a positive way – talked about how his actions over the years didn’t exactly inspire them to get extravagant in his funeral arrangements, which included empty seats, a cardboard box of ashes and music played on a boombox. Crews recalled how she lived a real-life version of the movie “Sixteen Candles,” where everyone in her family forgot about her 16th birthday, only her house was far over on the “other side of the tracks.”
It was inspiring how those with serious stories could find humor in the face of adversity. At the same time, the silly stories in the show had their own solemn overtones. A nice mix of the range of human experience comes out through the structure of the Liar Show’s storytelling and performances. The Liar Show will also keep you talking about its tales long after it ends.
The Liar Show returns at the Cornelia Street Cafe on February 4.