Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Interview with David Lawson of The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show

By Byrne Harrison

Most people who live in New York know that the performance scene is not limited to Manhattan.  Travel to any borough and you can find outstanding shows featuring some amazing talent.

David Lawson
In Astoria, actor David Lawson hosts The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show, a monthly series which offers anyone the opportunity to tell their story in front of an audience.  Having seen several of David's past projects, I was eager to get a chance to discuss this latest venture with him. 

How did the Storytelling Show come about?

I've been doing one-man-shows consistently for seven years now. Yet only in the past year I've realized so many comedy clubs and other venues in New York have events where I could frequently perform, and develop new material, in the same vein as the solo shows I've been doing. Obviously, yes, there are many venues to work on jokes and stand-up. But places like UCB East on the Lower East Side and The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City and Over The Eight in Williamsburg host events where you can tell stories to an audience of strangers. Not only can you develop work and see if that idea you had actually works well on its feet, but often at these shows you hear incredibly well-crafted stories done by great performers. I decided to host such an event in my home neighborhood of Astoria.

The Astoria Bookshop is a great local venue.  How did you start working with them?

Around Valentine's Day this year I performed some of my solo show about porn, VCR Love, at an "erotic" themed event at the bookshop. That very night I asked Lexi Beach, the muscle and brains behind the bookshop, if she was interested in me hosting an open-mic-style storytelling show at the store. She said yes. The first show went great and every one since has been better and better.
Given the number of actors and other performers who live in Astoria, it seems like an ideal location.  Are most of the people who have participated locals?

There's a lot of people from the neighborhood. Yet I've been pleased with how many people from Manhattan and Brooklyn come to the bookshop for the show as well.

Do you have a particular theme for the shows?

There's never a theme for the show. Anything and everything goes.

If someone wants to get involved, what should they do?

Decide what story to tell, say it out loud to yourself and make sure it's 5 minutes (which is the time limit at the show), then show up to 31-29 31st Street in Astoria (right near Broadway on the N/Q), write your name on a scrap of paper and put it in the glass fishbowl. That easy.

What have been your favorite stories so far?

So many. Oh god, so many. It's why anyone and everyone would love going to a storytelling show. You hear all sorts of wild stuff. A few highlights: The one about the Afghanistan War vet being let off from a speeding ticket by an emotionally patriotic cop. The one about not knowing anything about sports and talking to someone for 20 minutes only to later realize that "someone" was Lebron James. The one about having to run half naked out the fire escape because the person you're in the middle of having sex with tells you they have a girlfriend who just walked through the front door.

What are the next dates for the show?

Tuesday August 12th at 7PM is the next show. The one after that is on Tuesday, September 9th.

The Astoria Bookshop is located at 31-29 31st Street between Broadway and 31st Avenue, a short walk from the N/Q Broadway station.

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