Taking a Risk!

Poster for Risk show

The National Automobile Museum is pleased to host Risk live on Friday, April 4.

KEVIN ALLISON & THE FULL RISK! STORY

Kevin Allison, creator and host of RISK!, started his comedy career on the legendary sketch series The State on MTV. But in 2009, everything changed. “I was doing a solo show out West, playing characters as usual,” he says. “Afterward, Michael Ian Black [also of The State] said, ‘I kept hoping you’d drop the act and tell some of your own stories.’ I said, ‘Yikes, that just seems so risky…’ But even as I said it, I could feel in my gut that that kind of risk could lead to the best stuff.”

The very next week, Kevin was on stage telling his own stories. “Suddenly, I was looking right into the eyes of audience members. We were reacting to each other, like friends. After the show, people didn’t just say, ‘That was funny,’ they said, ‘Thank you. That really got to me.’ I was finding the meaning in my own experiences and the people listening felt like they’d lived through these things with me. The more I worried I was taking a risk with a story – because it was too emotional, too provocative, or just too nuts – the more the audience lit up.”

In August of 2009, host Kevin and producer Michelle Walson started the live show RISK!, “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public” at Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was an instant hit. Stories ran the gamut from the sacred to the profane, the hilarious to the horrific – and for the audience, it was a chance to re-connect with the things that make us human. It’s still just about the most cathartic, laugh-out-loud, anything-goes kind of smorgasbord you’re likely to see anywhere. 

Many remarkable people have shown a side of themselves on RISK! that you probably haven’t seen elsewhere, like Michael Ian Black, Janeane Garofalo, R. Ben Garant, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Nealon, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, Michael Showalter, Maria Bamford, Nick Swardson, Lili Taylor, Adam McKay, Rachel Dratch, Andy Borowitz, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Joe LoTruglio, and more.

The audio podcast of RISK! – also hosted by Kevin Allison – premiered online in October of 2009. The podcast includes not just the best stories from the live shows but also “radio-style” stories and interstitial music and comedy from artists all over the world. Most episodes of the show are free and easy to download from iTunes and other sources. With new episodes released each Thursday, the RISK! podcast is the winner of the 2010 ECNY Award for Best Podcast, and has seen over 10 million downloads to date.

In 2010, the RISK! live show series went bi-coastal. 

In 2011, Kevin and the RISK! team created The Story Studio, at www.thestorystudio.org, a school dedicated to teaching people from all walks of life to turn their most meaningful experiences into powerful self-expression. “Practically anybody will benefit from this training,” Kevin says. “We always say that, from the bar to the boardroom, a good story well told is what leaves a lasting impression.” 

RISK! is a labor of love, a communal groundswell, and a start-up with one hell of a future in the works. Be a part of it all. Or, as Kevin ends every episode of the podcast saying, “Folks, today’s the day. Take a risk!”