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They’ve Got A Secret

Kevin Allison presents a new unique comedy storytelling series.

Pictured: Kevin Allison, Rachel Dratch.

Former State member and People’s Improv Theater artistic director Kevin Allison’s new “Risk” show, seen September 3 at Arlene’s Grocery, was a simple but effective set of storyteller performances in which the host and his five guests all told tales in some way related to “secrets and revelations,” however tangentially.

The show is set up to be a self-promoting hybrid, being taped regularly for podcast, and has had some podcast-only editions. This night’s performers, Dave Hill (reviewed 8/22/09), Desiree Burch, Juliet Wayne, Tim Ellis and Rachel Dratch, had wildly divergent takes on the “secrets” theme.

Hill simply used it as a starting point for a story he said he hadn’t told before, and that was about going to entertain prisoners at Sing Sing, on what seemed like a whim in the telling. As he does so effectively, Hill found a dry refrain in this story, reminding himself, the other comics who played the prison with him, and the “Risk” audience, that he was scared because these were all “murderers and rapists.”

Ellis had a story more in line with telling an embarrassing secret, and his was being taken advantage of for ever-increasing amounts of money by a street character in the East Village years ago.

Burch and Wayne, separately, proved to be the most energetic performers with the most elaborate stories. Burch seemed to scarcely take a breath throughout as she told stories of her parents’ incompatibility and her experiences in Amsterdam. Wayne had the most personally revealing material of all the storytellers, and may very well have been the most cutting and resonant on this night, especially in telling how bad her drug use had gotten at one point -- so much that she could barely keep track of a fake tooth or cap she would keep in or out, all depending.

Dratch closed the show by taking the “secrets” theme as a jumping off point to go on about her bizarre relationship with “The Secret” self-help book, and how things she visualized were indeed coming to her, albeit not life changing items -- like a free cup of coffee.

It really is admirable what Kevin Allison is doing with this series, with shows every week or two, is rapidly assembling pieces from numerous leading lights, including some of his former State colleagues like Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black.

The next edition of “Risk” will be 7 p.m. Thursday, September 10 at Arlene’s Grocery, with Michael Ian Black and other guests.



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