Risk! is sort of like drunk dialing with a therapeutic twist, only the potential for embarrassment is exponentially greater. Host Kevin Allison (The State, Reno 911) returns to Houston for this live show and podcast, in which brave souls are encouraged to spill their guts to a ravenous audience.
“It's kind of like the storytelling shows you've heard on NPR – Moth, This American Life – but because we're a podcast, we can be completely uncensored,” says Allison. “There's no need to abide by the standards and practices of radio. People come to the show with a level of honesty and frankness.”
Allison says he'll tell one story, and we'll also hear stories from four fellow Houstonians, including one about “a young girl realizing that she was gay and being confused about what exactly that meant. It's kind of a mixture of realizing she's gay and having her first period.”
The show's producers have been fielding pitches from the Bayou City, and we wanted to know if they ever had good stories told by bad readers, or exactly how they made their final selections.
"What we do is we'll have a person, if we're interested in a pitch, we'll either have a person sending us a recording, or we'll get on Skype and [they] tell it to us directly and we'll give notes," says Allison. "It's actually more often the other case, where a person when they pitch it, it sounds really, really serious, but then when they get in front of the audience, with the nervous energy, the energy in the room, then parts of it start to become hilarious.
"It's surprising when something serious has moments – out of energy or release – they have to laugh at certain parts," says Allison. "We have had people have little breakdowns onstage where they couldn't finish the story, or got so emotionally worked up they have to take a pause." He describes the live show as “people telling true stories they never thought they'd dare to share in public,” and that audience members love it for its incredible, human rawness.
Daunting, yes, but there's no shortage of people ready to tell their secrets under the spotlight. So if you know Donna Edwards, Jessica Penny, Liz Haney and Randy Robinson – the brave storytellers signed up for the Houston show – give them a pat on the back and tell them to "break a leg."
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