The Pinch

Remaining Performances (tickets available here):

Saturday, July 18 at 6 p.m.
Sunday, July 19 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 25 at 6 p.m.
Sunday, July 26 at 2 p.m.

They say: Don’t believe true stories about shit can be thought-provoking, witty and enlightening? Then you haven’t heard our shit stories. This hilarious, adults-only show’s the shit everyone will be talking about. Shit’ll never be the same again.

Amanda’s Take: I did not, in fact, believe true stories about shit – the noun – could be enlightening. I wasn’t sure bathroom humor was ever anything but currency for 10-year old boys in gym class and unsophisticated grown-ups. But producers Stephanie Garibaldi and her husband Michael McVey delivered on their promise. McVey, a tall, thundering Scot with a Cheshire grin, had a “shit story” for the ages, featuring a youthful romp in Germany and a strange fetish, sewn into comic gold in no small part due to the Scottish Brogue in which it’s delivered.

Shit Stories: The Best of Our Worst Moments was conceived when Garibaldi — a longtime storytelling coach and fixture at SpeakeasyDC — pooled this piece of family lore with the talents of her Storytelling 101 students. Because her husband had a “shit story,” shit started appearing…everywhere.

The six storytellers (Mike Baireuther, Andrea Jones, Jillian Casey, Pierce McManus, and Em Morrison – plus McVey) are pooping everywhere from urinals to the head of the class. They’re pooping for audiences, too: D.C.’s Cherry Blossom tourists, moms with makeshift tinfoil shit receptacles, and — almost — small-town New Hampshire amusement park-goers.

Watching their performances, it becomes quite logical that bowel movements prove fertile ground for storytelling, a genre that has exploded in popularity in recent years, including here in our nation’s capital. Like its written cousin, the personal essay, live storytelling’s highest aim is to reach beyond the performer’s own story — which is ideally compelling, funny and told with plausible self-deprecation — and into the heart of the universal. The “me, too!” is the storyteller’s greatest reward. And, well, as the classic preschool tome tells us, everybody poops. It doesn’t get much more universal than that.

What’s universal, too, is the shame that often accompanies the most unsavory part of our shared humanity. The performers in Shit Stories, experienced storytellers all, seem to understand this, and their stories exploit it to hyperbolic effect. Stories about shit happening at inopportune times and places become stories about the precarious distance between adult maturity and childishness, doomed relationships and learning to follow the rules.

If you’ve been to a live storytelling show, you know that the genre comes with its attendant conventions — the occasionally pat “moral of the story” or “here’s what I learned” closers, the moment during the arc’s rising action where the audience probably knows what’s probably coming (though the best storytellers do surprise you). Those conventions are on display here. But the stories are entertaining enough to sell such conventions even to those with distaste for them. They might even be able to sell potty humor to even the most constipated of Fringe-goers.

See if if: You’ve always wondered what “Shanghai Cobra” is (no, not the 1945 thriller).

Skip it if: You’re still convinced your girlfriend doesn’t poop.

Photo courtesy of Team McVey Productions