A few days after my 40th birthday in August, I was approached by my friend Ryan to see if I'd be interested in performing a story for his live show/podcast - The Ricochet: A Storyteller Show. I was honored, excited, and a bit nervous.
I love to write and tell stories, but it had been over twenty-years since I had performed in front of an audience. The last time I did any type of speaking in front of a crowd was at both my aunt and uncle's "Celebration of Life" parties in 2013, which was an emotionally charged experience. Quite honestly, speaking at those events felt like an out-of-body experience and I can't even remember what I said. Oddly enough, when Ryan told me the theme for the show, the only story that I could think of was one that involved my aunt and uncle.
Here's how The Ricochet: A Storyteller Show works: there is a theme of the night and each story must be true. To keep it family friendly, performers are asked to keep their stories rated no more than PG-13 and they have a ten minute (give or take) time limit. Here is where I need to publicly apologize for running over my time limit. Nerves got the better of me, but thankfully I allowed to finish without an interruption. This wasn't the Oscars, no music played me off stage.
I participated in the second show of the series, which took place on September 22, 2017. The theme was "You Think You're Pretty Smart." It was held at the McKinley Design Studio in Oklahoma City, OK. My friend Ryan's studio is an amazing space. It's filled with handmade replica props from television and movies, really incredibly detailed stuff! I was a little nervous when I saw Negan's Lucille sitting near the doorway. I felt that it might be a not-so-subtle warning to keep us storytellers in line! Seriously though, if you need something crafted (including furniture), you should contact the McKinley Design Studio. For the event, the main space was filled with folding chairs for audience members. I'm not sure on this, but I'd estimate that the space could hold about seventy-five people.
Including myself, there were six performers, which have been split on to two podcast episodes. Although there is no requirement for the tone of the story, all of the stories ended up having humor. I laughed a lot and throughly enjoyed listening to the stories of my fellow performers. I went last and I was so engaged in the performances, that I wasn't focused on being nervous.
In order of appearance: Ryan McKinley shares a lesson learned about trusting fellow bandmates in junior high. Mr. X shares his intense need to collect physical objects from Disney parks, including the dicey operation to obtain his prized possession. Roger Colby wrote a poem about an unfortunate bathroom mistake that occurred during his finances wedding shower at a church. Jackson Compton talks about standing up to bullies, including turning the tables on a teacher, who might have been the biggest bully of all. Terre Pittman shares a very funny story about her dating and marriage disasters.
For my story, I spoke about "Thanksgiving 2010: The Worst Thanksgiving of My Life." I spoke about my uncle's health problems and dementia, which landed him in the hospital for that terrible Thanksgiving. My story was really about caring for someone you love with dementia and the trickery that is often involved to keep everyone sane.
Even though I ran too long during my actual performance, I did cut a significant amount of my original material. I initially wrote it out without editing myself and when I timed it, it ran twenty minutes. I thought I'd share some of what I had cut.. I cut background information about my aunt and uncle. This information wasn't essential to my story, but the time in which my story took place, they were older and in poor health. They were not acting quite like the aunt and uncle that I had grown up with and I was afraid that I wasn't honoring their memory by just sharing the 2010 image of them.
What was cut is that my aunt and uncle were amazing people. They were the life of the party, a fun couple. They were really solid friends, which is evident by not only how I saw them treat people when they were healthy, but by how many of their friends helped us out when they were sick. You can definitely judge people by the company that they keep and my aunt and uncle kept superb company. As a kid, I always thought of them as being super glamourous. They were each others second marriage. My uncle's first wife was soap opera star Linda Dano and my aunt was married to a Los Angeles coroner who worked on the Manson murders, among other celebrity deaths. Luckily they met each other, because I can't imagine having a different uncle. They married in Vegas and that night they went to a small club, in which Elvis was in attendance! Their lives just sparkled with cool things and interesting stories. Their glamour extended to their fashion choices; for better or worse, they followed every trend. I have strong evidence of this from our family photo albums.
I know that no one listening to my story who hasn't met them, has a clue what they look like, so here is a picture of them from the 1970's, decades before my nutty story.
And here is a picture of me on stage at The Ricochet: A Storyteller Show. Thanks to Ryan for taking the shot. I meant to take pictures of the space and my hosts, but I totally blanked that evening.
A huge THANK YOU to both Ryan and Shawna McKinley for not only inviting me to perform, but for flying me out for the show, putting me up in a great hotel, and taking care of me while in Oklahoma City. Thank You McKinley family for your generosity and hospitality! It was a fabulous opportunity and left me feeling even more inspired to write. Please check out all of the episodes of The Ricochet: A Storyteller Show and subscribe to the podcast. If you're in the Oklahoma City area or planning to visit ( and I highly recommend a visit, upcoming blog posts will feature my adventures in O.K.), check-out the schedule to attend a live show.