Kevin Allison is a comedy writer/performer best known for his role as a member of The State. In August, Allison launched his new project RISK! A weekly live storytelling event described as “the Moth, only edgier.” And later this month (September) there will be a podcast version of the show on Breakthru Radio and iTunes. Allison spoke to me about taking a chance, putting it all out there, and bringing people together.
Chris Bowman: It’s been a pretty big summer for you. First, after much anticipation, The State was released on DVD, and now RISK! How long have you been planning this project?
Kevin Allison: Gosh, you know. It’s so funny. I did a show last November called F*** Up. It was five characters and each one told a story. That’s what I’ve been doing for years and years whenever I perform as a solo artist. I’ve done a few one-man shows, and you know what? I think it was just getting really old. I hadn’t realized I was yearning to do something different. So F*** Up was characters all based on me, different aspects of my personality. And I found myself really struggling to connect with the audience. I was playing it too big, then I tried to play it down but I just felt like I wasn’t quite connecting. Then I did it in San Francisco at SF Sketchfest, and a lot of the guys from The State were there and again I felt like “Gosh, this isn’t quite working for me.” I was walking away from the show with Michael Ian Black and I said, “Well, what do you think?” (Laughs) Because he could tell that I wasn’t too thrilled with how the show had gone. He said, “You know, I really feel like you just want to speak as yourself to the audience.” And I was like, “You’re absolutely right.” I’d wanted to do that for a long time. So within weeks I just started going up places, telling my own stories and immediately the connection was palpable. I was getting big reactions and people were approaching me after saying, “Gosh, I just loved that.” But I was on to something. This story telling thing is booming in New York right now. And I noticed something. Anytime someone would go out on a limb, where they were revealing something a little bit more serious and profound than you’d see at your normal comedy show the audience would respond that much more. The audience was like, “I appreciate that you’re laying it all out there with this one.” And so I thought well why don’t I just put a show together where that’s the entire theme. Tell personal stories and in some way or another try to push yourself to do something on stage that you’ve never quite done before.
For more from Kevin Allsion and why stories of misfortune can be good for you, click Read More