Embarrassing Family Stories, Expertly Told, Take Center Stage in L.A. Show

Nikki Levy’s new show, ‘Don’t Tell My Mother!’ features writers and performers retelling mortifying family memories live Read More

By / June 5, 2012

An awkward, hormonal teenage girl goes to a Dirty Dancing-esque Catskills retreat for a family reunion, where she gets her period for the first time. Embarrassed and confused, she confides in her mother, a sex therapist, who vows to keep her daughter’s secret. At least she does until later that day, when Mom uses the camp loudspeaker to announce to the entire family and anyone in vague earshot the details of her baby girl’s first menstrual cycle.

A lifetime’s worth of humiliation is born. It’s a scene from an R-rated coming-of-age comedy, except it’s not. It’s a true story told by Mary Shapshay, a writer for the Huffington Post.

Storytelling shows are hot these days. In this Age of the Overshare, we crave and expect unfiltered, honest information—the more intimately mortifying, the better. And with compelling story spinners at the helm, the smallest pieces of personal history can make for a funny, heartwarming and enlightening theatrical experience.

Don’t Tell My Mother!, hosted by 20th Century Fox producer and funny lady Nikki Levy, is one such event. An able host who strikes the perfect confessional, loving, and playful tone for the evening, Levy reaffirms why storytelling shows like The Moth and RISK are as popular as they are.

I had the pleasure of catching the Mother’s Day edition and, considering the show is framed as stories you’d never want your mother to know, it was especially fitting. And wholly satisfying. Some highlights included:

• The sustained humiliation of spending each of your birthdays with your mother, physically re-creating your actual moment of birth.

• Finding a stack of porno magazines in the woods behind your little league field, only to have your father catch you burying them in the back yard and forcing you to return them.

• Accidentally sharing a magic mushroom omelet with your bible-thumping Christian cousin, taking her to a Walmart to blow off some steam and finding her weeping about frozen peas.

• Caring for your food-poisoned-by-bad-crab mother on a trip home to receive an award from your high school.

Don’t Tell My Mother is playing Thursday, June 7 at the Comedy Central Stage (free admission).

Adam Lustick is a writer and comedian living in LA.