The award-winning storytelling show RISK! visited Milwaukee this Friday, March 15. RISK! creator and host Kevin Allison, along with other local storytellers, told emotional, true stories “they never thought they’d dare to share.” Fortunately, he was able to share the origin story of RISK!
“Some of the stories are so emotional, or sexual, violent, outrageous and they’re all true! They’re uncensored, unaffected; it’s all very raw and real,” he says. Most live shows are recorded and then uploaded to the podcast.
“This isn’t something you play in the car on a Saturday morning while driving your kids to soccer practice,” he joked. There are no censors and no do-overs; the storytellers ‘step out of their comfort zones’ by sharing very intimate parts of their lives.
Many know Allison from the TV show “The State,” a popular sketch comedy series that aired on MTV from 1992–2009. He began his career playing clownish characters on the show. After production ended he transitioned to stand-up comedy. While doing stand-up he continued to play outlandish characters but never really felt like himself. One night after a show in San Francisco, an old friend and co-star Michael Ian Black stopped him and offered him advice that would change his entire career. Allison told Black that he didn’t really feel connected to the audience, that he just didn’t feel like himself. And at that moment Black said to Allison, “Drop the mask.” Black explained to him that he needed to be himself. “Be myself?” he thought. He said he had always imagined himself as, “too gay, too friendly and too intellectual” to do that. Could people possibly want to see the real him on stage?
Allison told Black that being himself would be “too risky.” And that was the exact word he needed to hear. Black told him that if it felt risky to show who he was on stage, that’s what he should be doing.
For his next show, Allison shared a story about the first time he tried to prostitute himself. And he was so struck at the difference in the energy between the audiences. It was the most risky story he could think of, and the crowd loved it. He said people from the audience approached him and said, “Oh my gosh the emotions you described reminds me of something that happened to me.” Thus, RISK! was born. Three months later, the show’s first podcast aired.
Since then, the show and podcast have become huge hits. The RISK! podcast gets over 1 million downloads every month and was named one of Entertainment Weekly‘s best podcasts.
Out now, Allison’s book RISK! True Stories People Thought They’d Never Dare To Share, features personal true stories from him and others including friend Michael Ian Black. And Allison has a brand new audiobook titled Two Henrys (This Can’t Be Happening) too.
If you have an amazing story you’d like to share Allison say’s they’re always taking submissions online.