Five Questions: Meet Nikki Levy of the Live Storytelling Show 'Don't Tell My Mother'
Don't Tell My Mother! (DTMM) is a new live storytelling/reading show created by film producer Nikki Levy (Vice President of Wedge Works World Wide at Fox). The monthly show features hand-picked comics, actors and screenwriters who share eight to 10 minute stories they'd never want their mothers to know.
We asked Levy five questions about the origins of the show, her favorite storytelling series, as well as the upcoming DTMM show on Thursday night:
LAist: There are a number of storytelling and reading shows that take place throughout LA (The Moth, Tongue & Groove, Literary Death Match, etc.). How did Don't Tell My Mother! come about? Did your mom have anything to do with it?
My entire life, I've been told to be more "appropriate." I'm a New York Jew with a wild New York Jewish mom who did ballet on the checkout line at Marshall's, walked through the house naked with the vertical blinds wide open and belted Cole Porter while grocery shopping. By nature, we are not an “appropriate” people! I wanted to do a show where it was appropriate to be inappropriate. Where people could be weird and honest and real. The crowd at DTMM comes for that. They come for honest, vulnerability and laughter!
And the idea for the show stems from the notion that no matter what kind of relationship we had with our moms—fabulous, smothering, awful, great, complicated, etc.—they cast long shadows on our lives. No matter how old we are. So, mom has to make at least a cameo in everyone’s story.
Also, growing up, I had to tell my mother EVERYTHING. I realized that was not the norm, and that there are people in this world who actually keep secrets from theirs. Most people, actually. I wanted to know THOSE stories.
LAist: What can audiences expect from the upcoming show on the 13th?
We are at a brand new venue this month. Café Club Fais Do-Do is a bank-cum-jazz club with a full bar, Southern eats and live band. A little bit of New Orleans on West Adams. So, we have stories, booze and live music.
Original Saturday Night Live cast member Laraine Newman fesses up about her first acid trip…and pancake breakfast with mom. NAACP winner and Girlfriends actress Tracee Ellis Ross shares a hilarious story about the perils of being an icon’s daughter (she is the daughter of Diana Ross); and Moth Grandslam winner Margot Leitman revealing her stint as a childhood plagiarist. And the fabulous LA band Saucy Monky.
Be prepared to drink, laugh and blush - a lot.
LAist: What's your most memorable/favorite story so far from the show?
I love so many of them, but a memorable one for me was from Cornell Womack. It had been a year since his mom passed and he did a story about what he told his mom, and then what the truth was. He told mom his that his ex-girlfriend cheated on him, but didn’t tell her that he cheated on her, with her roommate, downstairs, while she was sleeping.
Another one I love is Jen Kober’s story about being a fat kid in a small town in Louisiana, and having to steal a block of Costco American cheese because her mother would only let her have a few slices. Jen wanted the whole thing, so she decided to steal the brick from the fridge, hide in the bathtub and eat it all so her mother would be convinced she never even bought it. Hilarious!
LAist: Tell us a little bit about your day job as a Twentieth Century Fox film producer.
I’ve been in feature film development since 2002. I develop live action and animated comedies. I get to work with talented screenwriters all day. We are currently in production on the Fox Animation 2013 release Epic with Beyonce, Josh Hutcherson and Amanda Seyfriend.
I stopped writing for a long time because I was working with other writers. I forgot how much I loved writing myself. The birth of this show is an amazing way to keep writing, and to work with other writers on a much smaller scale.
LAist: Do you have any favorite places in LA to go to for comedy, readings or storytelling?
I love going to shows in LA. Comedy shows are my favorite - stand-up and storytelling. I love Wendy Hammers’ show Tasty Words, Anna David’s True Tales of Lust and Love and Margot Leitman’s Stripped Stories. I absolutely love Erin Foley’s show Gays R Us. I find comics to be some of the best storytellers. They get delivery.
Tickets for the Don't Tell My Mother show on Thursday night at Cafe Club Fais Do-Do are $13 and available now. 8 pm.