Kevin Allison to highlight intimate stories at ‘Risk!’ live show

Josh Axelrod, Associate Editor [email protected]

Kevin Allison lives for moments of insecurity. The comedian — who created and hosts “RISK!”, a podcast that invites veteran and amateur storytellers to share their most obscene, intense and personal stories and receives close to 1.5 million downloads every month — is coming to New Orleans, and he’s bringing his vulnerability with him.

Appearing at 8 p.m. Friday Nov. 11 at Cafe Istanbul, Allison will be performing his “RISK!” live show. A largely successful act, he’s already brought the show to cities such as New York City and Los Angeles. He has organized a line-up of stories featuring friends, local New Orleanians and himself, and thinks that audience members can expect the unexpected.

“It’s a high wire act,” Allison said, explaining that the podcast is curated, but that during the live show anything can happen.

Allison started as a member of the comedy troupe on the MTV sketch comedy show “The State,” whose members would go on to make projects like “Reno 911!” and “Wet Hot American Summer.” When the group dissolved, Allison started doing character monologues, and a friend advised him to cut the act and just tell true stories about his own life.

The idea, which terrified Allison at first, led to the inception of “RISK!” in 2009. He described the first story he told in the style as a “transcendent, peak experience.” Since then, the comedian has told stories about forging a drug test, going to a BDSM camp, almost drowning and hundreds of others in a format The A.V. Club has called “consistently unforgettable.” 

“It doesn’t matter what you’re telling a story about as long as it really means something to you and you’re emotional about it and you feel like you’re revealing something,” Allison said. “It’s bound to resonate somehow on an emotional level with people with ways you wouldn’t even expect.”

In addition to his own accounts, “RISK!” also features stories from people all over the country. His New Orleans show is called “Legends” and will highlight narratives that fit the theme. The podcaster asks listeners for stories about a certain topic at the end of each episode, and then coaches them to craft their story so it can be told onstage.

Even though he started the podcast all the way back in 2009, Allison still hasn’t overcome the insecurity that comes with telling an intimate or raw story about himself. 

“We’re eight years in … and it’s still very much an, ‘Oh my god do I think I can tell them this?'” Allison said.

The comedian claims there are plenty of stories that he still has not worked up the courage to share, and that bearing his soul to an audience every week is never easy. 

“That’s just the way life is,” Allison said. “You can’t come out about everything all at once because life is a process of discovering more and more idiosyncratic parts of yourself.”

Audience members can witness what idiosyncratic pieces of the human experience Allison reveals this Friday at Cafe Istanbul. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.