Arts & Culture

Traveling show broadcasts personal, provocative stories

As part of the RISK! show, students and a faculty member shared stories in a ‘confessional format’

Contributing Writer
Monday, November 11, 2013

Kevin Allison’s traveling show RISK! goes where most dare not — providing a forum for storytellers to cross conventional boundaries and share intimate stories they would otherwise never think to express in public. The Brown-RISD event Saturday night in MacMillan 117 included a range of stories chosen through an open submission process — including an amusing anecdote about a spoiled, farting dog’s graphic birth (and the beauty of life), a piercing narrative about being held at gun-point by a Pakistani gang member and even an emotional account of a loving threesome.

Kevin Allison, former member of the MTV comedy show “The State,” is the creator and host of the monthly storytelling show, RISK!. He started off the show by regaling the audience with a story about his first time at Brown (on shrooms), his first memory (of guys’ butts) and his first experience going out into the gay dating scene at New York University. Setting a personable tone for the night, his opening story made the audience roar with laughter at some times and moan with sympathy at others.

Allison, in addition to performing, teaches storytelling in workshops in New York and California.

“The first cave paintings tell stories from 40,000 years ago,” Allison said, in reference to storytelling as an art form.

He added that storytelling is different from other forms of comedy, such as standup, because the acts follow more coherent plot lines.

Storytelling is authentic and forces performers to let themselves get uncomfortable, Allison said, adding that for storytellers, it is necessary to “commit yourself to a journey.” Event planner Yotam Tubul ’14 agreed, citing value in storytelling’s “more confessional format.”

David Jacobs ’14, Anna Martin ’16, Professor of English Stuart Burrows and RISD students Hania Ansari and Daisy Hook also tried their hands at storytelling at the event. Each shared personal and revealing stories that were easy for the audience  to relate to — laughing at familiar failures, successes and experiences. Listening with a quiet seriousness, the audience found Ansari’s surprisingly heartwarming tale of an experience with gang violence in Pakistan particularly striking.

As a student in Pakistan, Ansari offered her only item of value — her TI-89 calculator — to a gang member attempting to rob her. The man quickly changed tactics, preferring she “teach (him) how to use this,” rather than hand it over. Ansari said she quickly realized he was advanced at math and insisted he take the calculator as a gift.

Though most people in the audience could probably not fully comprehend this experience, the universality of the TI-89 created a beautiful and humorous connection between Ansari and the audience.

The event, which was organized by Tubul and Hook, was attended by a mix of University students, RISD students and community members.

A recording of the show, along with other episodes, is available on


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *