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Vancouver comedians embrace storytelling

Local raconteurs tell their tales without pressure to be funny

Matt Loeb tells a story about his experience as a paid subject for medical experiments at Story Story Drive at The Drive Coffee Bar on Nov. 1. Photo: Ana Rose Walkey
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Reported by Ana Rose Walkey

Storytelling shows are gaining popularity in Vancouver because they create a personal connection between the storyteller and the audience.

The shows, which have a similar format to stand-up comedy, but in which people tell a variety of stories, at The Drive Coffee Bar nowadays draw up to 20 people vs. five even a year ago.

Jo Dworschak, a comedian and creator of storytelling shows Story Story Lie and Story Story Drive, said storytelling is about an in-person connection.

“Something that society used to do so much,” Dworschak said. “Now, all the communication we have is with our phones and so being able to go and connect with people and hear their stories is really amazing.”

The format of these shows includes someone stands in front of a crowd and delivers their piece. The stories can be anything from funny to sad and they may range from fictional to non-fictional.

A variety of shows mix the funny with the serious
Comedian Jo Dworschak is the creator of Story Story Lie and Story Story Drive. Submitted Photo

In Vancouver, storytelling shows include Story Story Lie at the Rio Theatre, Story Story Drive at The Drive Coffee Bar, Fine. at The Lido and a number of traveling shows such as Rape is Real & Everywhere.

Once a journalism student at Langara College, Luisito Mina Jr. changed paths to pursue stand-up comedy and later, storytelling.

Last Wednesday at Dworschak’s show, Mina performed his stories for the first time and said storytelling allows him to share his work without the pressure to deliver punchlines.

“There’s people who were familiar with stand-up, liked stand-up and migrated to this because it’s the same kind of thing just without such heavy constraints to be hilarious,” said Mina.

David DJ Roy, the host of a comedy show called That Filthy Show, performs at storytelling shows and enjoys the variety of light and dark stories

“As a stand-up: poetry and [storytelling] give the opportunity to let out the darkness that I can’t do at comedy shows,” Roy said.

Emma Cooper, a local comedian and co-creator of a show called Rape is Real & Everywhere, said, “I’ve noticed recently more shows that are conducive to prioritizing personal anecdotes and vulnerability over concise punchlines”.

Dworschak encourages everyone to give storytelling a chance.

“If you’ve learned how to speak, you can do it,” Dworschak said.

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