After hearing a hodgepodge of humorous Vagina Monologue-like confessionals onstage at the Punchline Tuesday night during Giulia Rozzi and Margot Leitman’s Stripped Stories standup showcase, things got personal. And interactive. We played Never Have I Ever.
As much as it made everyone in the audience loosen up a bit, it had a different effect on the last performer of the night, Phil Johnson, who addressed the situation ignominiously: “So, I’m here with my parents. Yeah...”
Let that be a lesson to anyone thinking of seeing Stripped Stories when it inevitably returns to town: probably not a good idea to go with family. But hey, that’s their problem. Everyone else seemed to be laughin’ it up, free from the judging eyes of kinfolk.
Rozzi and Leitman essentially played host to a night of Sexual Adventure/Misadventure Storytellers Anonymous, in which a carousel of performers confided intimate, sometimes-scarring, sometimes-uplifting, always-amusing anecdotes. Many were coming-of-age accounts of sexual enlightenment, such as Rachel Biello’s tale of her 12-year-old self finding the perfect man in her silent but dashing Raggedy Andy stuffed doll. By the time she reached the, um, climax, in which she, her “anatomically incomplete” man-whore Andy, and Ziggy, another stuffed lover, first realized their passion for one another, she had also managed to address a few social taboos in one heat-fueled monologue. Not the least of which was reconciling her Catholic upbringing with the glory of satisfied lust — how something so wrong could feel so damn right.
We were also privy to the devastatingly vulnerable monologue of Scott Kravitz, who bared his once-virgin soul for all to see. His awkward, sad-sap former self was a Steve Carrell-esque figure, so hopeless with the ladies and such a social pariah that he’d use his own tears in his watercolor paintings. But, fearlessly, he soldiered on. He dated. He flirted on a Missed Connections sub-section of Craigslist, and also another site where you can anonymously send STD notifications to former partners, etc. And just when we thought he was going to direct us to his Meghan’s Law page, he got laid. There are few stories that can bring grown men to tears, but this could be one.
Rozzi and Leitman were predictably charming in their roles as hostesses for the evening, effortlessly dropping in their own stories of past embarrassments and sexual awakenings. We learned that Leitman had a thing for the flygirl in the old Bobby Brown videos, causing mass confusion when reconciling her own sexual identity (and leading to an especially awkward moment with a grade school friend). We also learned that Rozzi wasn’t exactly Kelly Taylor in high school, although she did manage to please at least one boy. But at her high school reunion ten years later, when all her classmates seemed to worship her and her comedy career, she had this unexpected epiphany that being cool wasn’t all it was made out to be. But wait, let’s back up a second — before she reached said epiphany, she drunkenly reminded the guy she pleasured back in the day of their hand-to-penis encounter in front of his current wife. Not cool, but cool in a way.
And in a way, that’s really what this night was all about. Confronting the absurd past in an honest way, sharing your blush with others.