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The 'Story Worthy' Podcast Series, LA Stories Fit For The Car And The Bar

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Jackie Kashian performing SW Live at El Cid. Photo by Filmcz Productions.
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Local comedians Christine Blackburn and Hannes Phinney are the co-hosts of Story Worthy, a series of podcasts and live story-telling performances that tell the often-hilarious true tales of LA locals. You know, stories about sleeping with yoga teachers, scalping tickets at the Greek Theater, and trouble-shooting old Craftsman plumbing before the rabbi arrives.

While you can find the series in the top ten comedy podcasts on iTunes, their live performances at the M Bar in Hollywood have spawned quite a following. And it's little wonder why: guests have included some of the best storytellers in town, from writers for Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation, to stand-up comedians from Upright Citizen’s Brigade and The Comedy Store. As founder Christine Blackburn says, “Think 'The Moth' meets 'This American Life'”—and add to it a large helping of humor and local insight. In light of their upcoming 50th episode, Christine gave us the lowdown on the Story Worthy series:

LAist: What kind of stories are told through Story Worthy and by whom?
Story Worthy stories are true stories that is personal to the storyteller. I don't think anyone wants to hear about what happened to your father’s cousin’s sister. What happened to you? I enjoy having stand-up comics and authors on the show, because those are my personal interests, writing and comedy. We’ve done serious shows as well, it just always turns out to have a humorous aspect, like the "The Kennedy's" or "Virginity" episode.

There are a number of well-known comedians who have appeared on the show and you have performed at all the major improv venues in LA. How would you describe the local comedy scene?
Well, first off, as a stand-up comic, I wasn’t funny at all, and that is probably why I hosted so many shows. I’m more of a good “buffer” for other performers. I’m the Larry King of hosting a show, and I'm naturally curious. That being said, the comedy scene in LA seems to be thriving, and I love all of the LIVE podcasts being performed. The other night I saw Marc Maron at the Steve Allen Theater down the street. What a treat to just walk down the street and there he is, the most successful comedy podcast host in the country, Marc Maron. I love that about LA; right around the corner is something fantastic.

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Story Worthy is currently in the top ten comedy podcasts on iTunes. In what ways do you think the story-telling format achieves a different comedic effect than the more common punch-driven 'skit' or 'one-liner' deliveries?
I think I’ll use a Stephen Colbert word here: “Truthiness”. People like true stories, reality TV, honest people. When you get a comedian who can tell a true story from their life, using a beginning, middle, and end, it’s the best of both worlds, comedy and “Truthiness.”

What motivated the decision to broadcast the series via podcast instead of a visual medium like YouTube?
I don’t think true stories necessarily need pictures behind them. The story is hopefully engaging enough. I also wanted Story Worthy to be accessible wherever listeners hear their music and radio, which is namely in their cars. Story Worthy averages 35 minutes in length and that’s about the time it takes to get anywhere in this town, so it works out.

Even though the series is largely digital, it remains very rooted in place (the M Bar in Hollywood) and time (it's now filmed live). How is the experience of seeing Story Worthy live different than listening to the podcast?
Story Worthy LIVE offers fans the opportunity to not only watch the podcast being recorded, but to join in and play our game 'Shotgun Story Worthy.' Audience members write their name on a slip of paper and when their name is called, they come on stage and spin the “Story Worthy Wheel of Truth.” Whatever topic the wheel lands on—Kids, Vacation, Mom, Virginity, Faith, First love, Pets, Break ups, Drunk Tank, and more—you tell a 1-minute story on the spot about that topic. Everyone has a story about each one, and it’s only a minute long, so good or bad, it’s entertaining!

How can someone get their story told on the series?
You must live in Los Angeles. Storytellers can send a short description of their story to info@storyworthypodcast.com.

July 7th marks the 50th episode of Story Worthy. What are a few of the highlight episodes thus far?
A few of my favorite episodes include storyteller Carlos Kotkin (“Tests”, and “Stars”) and Moran Cerf (“Oops!” and “High Sea Adventures.”) There’s also the “Flying” episode, where I talk about my flight attendant career, and “Tonga” where I discuss my time in the Peace Corps and subsequent illness in a third world country.

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What might the future hold for Story Worthy?
I see “Story Worthy the Television Show,”(OWN are you listening?) and “Story Worthy the Board Game.” More immediately, the Story Worthy podcast looks forward to hanging in the iTunes Top Ten Comedy Podcasts. I can’t thank our fans enough for listening to the show, the e-mails, the comments, and for going to Storyworthypodcast.com.

You can catch the next Story Worthy performance on July 7th at the M Bar in Hollywood, where Christine, Hannes, and Adrian Colesberry, author of How To Make Love To Adrian Colesberry, will celebrate the 50th episode of the podcast series. You can get all of the Story Worthy podcasts from iTunes—and you might want to stock up, just in case you find yourself caught in this month's Carmegeddon.

For more information, be sure to visit their Facebook page and The Story Worthy Podcast website!

Story Worthy 50th Anniversary Episode with Adrian Colesberry @ M Bar
July 7, 2011. M Bar, 1253 Vine Street, Hollywood, CA
Doors at 6:45, Show at 7: 30, Tickets $10 at door.