Friday, June 26, 2015 was a night of laughter at the Smith Theatre. First, the Columbia Festival of the Arts, presented The Stoop Stoop Storytelling Series: Kitchen Confidential which was followed by a performance by Max Silvestri. (Note: These shows were independent of each other, but many came to both.)
The Stoop Storytelling Series was created in Baltimore in 2006 by Laura Wexler and Jessica Henkin. It is structured in this way: Six or seven people each get seven minutes to tell a personal tale on a given topic. They use “ordinary” people, although one tonight was a comedienne and another a reporter, to tell their “extraordinary” real life stories.
Wexler is a writer, producer, teacher, and editor and Henkin is an educator dealing with those who need Special Education and Early Childhood Learning Programs. Henkin also is a member of the Baltimore Improv Group.
Tonight there were six presenters. Cynthia Shea told a humorous tale about her first catering job and a pot of gumbo. Mary Alice Fallon Yesky who was on Ace of Cakes on the Food Network for 10 years, told about her “everything went wrong trip” to New York to see Iron Chefs being taped. Doug Donovan, a reporter from Baltimore, spoke about his job as a teenager working at a pizzeria that had connections with organized crime. A lawyer and Irish immigrant, Andrew Stephenson, related a tale of his day as lead chef at a famous bohemian style restaurant in London that was interrupted by a cat and a pigeon.
During intermission, the audience was asked, if they wished, to place their name in a bag. Three names would be drawn of people who had “kitchen” stories to tell. Act II began with these three audience members who had three minutes to impart their stories. One told of her experiences as a waitress in Nantucket, another about a strange journey and a bad hangover and finally the last told a very humorous story about cooking spaghetti in a pressure cooker.
The last two scheduled storytellers were Maria Falzone whose father owned a pizza parlor where she worked for many years. She is now a comedienne. Her very funny story revolved around the hectic Friday nights at the parlor with her immigrant father who made great pizza, but had poor management skills. The final presentation was given by Raj Konar who talked about being 6 years-old and his very humorous misadventure in an Indian spice shop.
If you are interested in these stories and about 450 other Baltimoreans, you can hear them on their podcast.
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes with one intermission.
After a small reception we came back into Smith Theatre to hear Max Silvestri, a well regarded comedian from New York City. He had some very funny observations about bumper stickers, living as a single guy right next to an elementary school, and couches. He told two laugh-out-loud stories. One was about his childhood helping his father build a house and the consequences of sitting on a portable generator. Anyone who ever lost a tooth suddenly as an adult, roared and secretly shuddered during Silvestri’s story of losing a tooth while traveling to perform in Madison, Wisconsin.
Running Time: 70 minutes, with no intermission.
If you ever get a chance to see either Stoop Storytellers or Max Silvestri, they will help brighten your day.
If you missed the Columbia Festival of the Arts this time, you won’t have to wait until next June. There will be other weekends in the fall: British Invasion on October 2-4, 2015; winter: Beyond the Blues on February 12-14, 2016, and spring: Viva La Vida on April 15-19, 2015. Next on June 17-19, 2016 they will have a shorter schedule called Silk Road Stories. So, watch for more information.
For the festival’s schedule and ticket information, visit the festival’s website. For tickets, call Tickets.com at (800) 955-5566, or purchase
Columbia Festival of the Arts Part 1: Opening Night at the Lakefront by Susan Brall.
Columbia Festival of the Arts: Day Two at the Lakefront by Susan Brall.
Columbia Festival of the Arts: Part 3: Last Day at Lakefront by Susan Brall.
Columbia Festival of the Arts: Part 4: The Blind Boys of Alabama and Andy Poxon Band by Susan Brall.