In part two of my chat with British storyteller, humorist and raconteur Simon Brooks, we talk about what he found different when first arriving in America and then go on to chat about how he first got into storytelling. From telling stories as a youth hostel manager, to entertaining his kids as a stay-at-home-dad, to digging down below the surface and honoring the origins of a story he wants to tell. Simon explains the reason behind setting up his successful podcast “Friday with Friends.” Plus how a magical dragon helped him with artwork for his CDs and how to take a good selfie. We both share a story about famous people being caught unawares and then Simon finishes with a lovely English tale. www.simonbrooksstoryteller.com
I am delighted to have as my guest, fellow Brit, Simon Brooks. Simon is a full-time storyteller, telling traditional tales, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of various folktales and legends. I learned a lot from our chat. We discuss how some of today’s lack of communication could be down to people not telling stories around the table to their kids. He talks about going into schools to tell stories and teach workshops on the art of storytelling and how different that is now everything is virtual. Simon also works with the Children’s Literacy Foundation, and has been a “feral children’s librarian,” and even tells stories in prisons. He was so interesting to talk to that we lost track of time and I had to split his interview into two parts. Do NOT miss Part two as he tells a wonderful story.
WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE. This episode I talk to a relatively new friend of mine from Fairfax, Virginia, Jessica (Piscitelli) Robinson. She is the founder of the storytelling show, Better Said Than Done, which she set up in 2011 in Northern Virginia, to avoid having to drive into DC and park! She’s told stories in many places, some great, some small. As she says: she’s a big deal! She is also a writer, author and producer. She tells a funny story regarding the fact that she didn’t lose her alcohol virginity until she was 21 years old, which involved an unpleasant experience with Kimchi, (spicey rotted cabbage, according to Jessica). She talks about Roar: True Tales of Women Warriors - a storytelling series and a book anthology and now a festival, to give women more of a voice. Then she tells another funny story about her dad’s creative use of swearing, particularly with the F-word. We also talked about kids, home-schooling on Zoom, her one-woman show on Fertility. Then she ends the show about her time in the film business straight out of film school, and how a famous 1990’s movie star had a tantrum and stopped the entire filming for a very unusual reason.
My guest this episode is award-winning author and Write on Mama, Mindy Uhrlaub. She is also a film producer, writing a feature length film, “Stalled” back when she was 20. As if that was not enough, she has also been an honest-to-God Rock Star! She played in Denver-based rock band 40th Day, supporting arena bands like Kansas and Smashing Pumpkins. Mindy spills the beans on a few personal secrets, including her love of crossword puzzles, how you would not want her navigating in a car for you, and an unusual food dislike. Her debut novel, Unnatural Resources, launches on October 30th with a live, socially distanced, in-person event in Fairfax, CA while simultaneously live-streaming online to YouTube using Six Feet Apart Productions to assist with the production. Her novel took ten years to write and has already received a great review from Publishers Weekly: “Uhrlaub’s harrowing novel doesn’t spare readers the grim reality of children harmed by sadists. Readers who like their fiction with a conscience will want to take a look.” Unnatural Resources is set in the Democratic Republic of Congo and tells the story of a young Congolese girl who becomes a symbol of hope in the worst place in the world to be female. Mindy describes it as a coming of age story with a positive underlying theme, despite describing Congo as “the rape capital of the world.” Mindy is knowledgeable (having twice traveled to Congo) and a fascinating guest. Find out more here: mindyuhrlaub.com
My guest this episode is one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet: Brandon Spars. He is not only a talented and hilarious storyteller, but he is jolly clever too! A high school and college teacher, he is the author of four books with another on the way. He is a five-time Moth StorySlam winner and two-time Moth GrandSlam winner, plus a TEDx speaker. Brandon shares a funny fact about himself that makes his dog tilt his head in confusion. He spent a few years living in Indonesia and the Marshall Islands and shares a funny story about a giant who terrorized the islands. We talk about The Moth and Brandon shares an inspiring tidbit from when he met the founder, George Dawes Green. He also talks about the moments of magic when hearing a traditional tale prompts a deep personal connection. We discuss his new book about controversial Balinese Goddess, Rangda, with beautiful illustrations by his daughter, Clara. Finally, Brandon gives a master class in how to tell a hilarious and yet moving story, highlighting deeper issues of the commonalities between panic disorders and trance, called A Method to my Madness. A dream guest.
This episode, I talk to one of the hardest working and most delightful storytellers around, Sheila Arnold. Based out of Hampton, VA, Ms. Sheila, as she is fondly known, has been performing full-time since 2003. She is an incredible storyteller, but that is just one of the many, many hats she wears. She is also an inspirational and motivational speaker, historical consultant bringing characters of historical importance to life, Consultant of Truth and Reconciliation for the Storytelling Association of California, and co-founder of Artists Standing Strong Together, now a 501c whose mission is: Connecting Artists to Resources. We talked about her work as a woman of color in the Black Lives Matter movement and how she has deepened her friendship with her two best friends, who just happen to be white. Ms Sheila is not only humble, but deeply generous with her time and knowledge, with great dollops of bravery thrown in too. She told a funny story about flashing an intimate body part on Zoom and ended with a lovely and moving story about her son.
The very talented Corey Rosen is my guest. Corey teaches and performs storytelling and improv in San Francisco and now online. He performs at BATS Improv and has hosted The Moth StorySlams in the Bay Area for over 6 years. He tells a funny incident about how, when emceeing, he told a story that made the audience hate him! True to his improv background, he also told a couple of funny stories on the fly, one about hurting himself quite badly trying to impress other people and the other about being humiliated trying to be cool. Corey is also a writer, creative director, and visual effects producer and tells a very interesting fact about working on one of the Star Wars films. Find out an industry secret when Corey spills the beans on which body part Han Solo is missing due to Corey’s over-zealous editing. Such a fun and interesting chat.
Warning: EXPLICIT! This episode’s guest, Calvin Cato, made me laugh a lot! He is not only hilarious, being an award-winning comedian, storyteller, podcaster and actor, but a really lovely person. Calvin was named Time Out New York’s Queer Comics of Color to Watch Out For and, when not in a worldwide pandemic, he hosts speed-dating events. He tells a funny story about one speed-dating event involving Long Island Iced Teas! We discuss the word Queer and why Calvin has reclaimed this word. We also chat about how he got onto a well known gameshow because of a naked party he went to at college. He has also performed at FOUR naked comedy shows, which was fascinating to me, so we delved into why he did that. When you’ve finished listening, you’ll love Calvin too.
I was thrilled, not to mention thoroughly over-excited, to interview my two best friends, Tanya and Bucket. We talk about what life was like at an English boarding school back in the early 70’s, including lumpy horsehair mattresses and apple-pie beds, formidable and sadistic matrons, school uniform and why we had to wear TWO pairs of knickers (panties), plus why food was such an important part of our lives and not always in a good way! We spill the beans on the strange and secret games we got up to after lights out in the dormitories, including spanking competitions, midnight feasts and unusual dares. And, of course, the punishments, always the punishments, as we got caught by matron all the time! If you ever wanted a candid glimpse into another life, this is the podcast for you!
I virtually met the wonderful and talented Ambassador of Fun, Robin Gelfenbien during the COVID-19 shut-down. She’s a New York based comedian, storyteller, podcaster, writer, producer and coach. She was a delightful and effortless guest, talking about storytelling and the yummy ice cream cakes she makes for her in-person New York show “Yums The Word”. She is fearless, with balls of steel, when it comes to getting famous guests to come on her shows, such as Tim Gunn from Project Runway. She also sings for me – something I avoid at all costs – a funny little ditty called “Jesus Steals my Thunder” because her birthday is the day after Christmas (Boxing Day to us Brits!) … with a last line to watch for! She talks about the time she shared the stage with Hannah Gadsby and then finishes with a funny story which restored her faith in humanity at a low time in her life. I could have talked for hours so I hope to have Robin on again in the future.