Jeremy Owens wants you to dish. He wants you to dish about that time you spiked the punch bowl at your eighth grade graduation dance. He wants you to talk about that time after you made out with your best friend's brother in high school. He wants to know about that time you bought an ice cream cake at the company picnic for your lactose intolerant boss.
You're Being Ridiculous is a show based on those wickedly sinister and revealing moments we keep hidden. It is many things: intrepid, humorous and startling. Owens curates the show and handles its submissions. His eyes are always peeled for incredible and amazing stories that toe the line, or even cross it. Read my interview with him after the jump and be sure to submit to You're Being Ridiculous.
Tell our readers a little more about You’re Being Ridiculous.
You’re Being Ridiculous is an open submission storytelling show. The show is open to everyone. You don’t have to have a fancy degree or be an actor or professional writer to participate. All anyone needs is a bold, brave and revealing non-fiction story about their life that fits whatever theme we’ve picked. Each installment of YBR has a 3 show run. I try to give each performer a chance to read twice during the run of the show. That gives everyone a bit of practice with their story and creates a sense of community among the tellers. I like to think of myself as a sort of storytelling den-mother and try to provide the sense of safety and togetherness that image implies.
So far, what has been your favorite installment of the show and why?
That’s a hard question. It’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. If I have to pick just one, I’d say the first show that we did at Mary’s Attic. The show was originally at Gorilla Tango. When we moved You’re Being Ridiculous to Andersonville we chose “work” as the theme. It was the first time that I got a lot of submissions and didn’t have to beg everyone I know to participate. That combined with moving to Mary’s felt like I was producing a show on Broadway…relatively speaking.
If you could have anyone read at YBR, who would you choose and why?
Maybe it’s because I haven’t finished my coffee, but all I can think about is Lindsey Lohan. I know, right? Totally. Silly. But seriously…here’s the deal… My absolute most favorite thing is hearing someone reveal a secret. I love a gossipy moment where the person talking to you or revealing something is in on the joke. It’s so full of suspense and drama. What’s going to happen next? What was she thinking…like REALLY thinking? Don’t you want to hear her talk about something embarrassing that happened to her? Maybe she could tell us about her underwear moment in the limo or something weird that happened with Oprah. Plus after the show I wouldn’t have to drink my whiskey alone…doesn’t that sound fun?
Using five words, describe YBR.
Relaxed. Funny. Brave. Bold. Revealing.
What goes into the production of each show?
The first and maybe hardest thing I do is negotiate the space reservation with Mary’s. The show isn’t monthly, so this part can be tricky. Once that’s done, I get with my team and we go through theme ideas. We try to pick a theme that can be interpreted in many different ways so audiences don’t have to listen to 7 versions of the same thing. Then we set a deadline for submissions, which is usually around a month before the show is scheduled to go up. Once we hit the submission deadline we get together and read all of the stories and decide what makes the most cohesive show. The turnaround time on this is pretty quick, because I hate making people wait. It’s mean. When we have everything figured out with casting we set a rehearsal date. It’s less of a rehearsal and more of a 5th grade style pizza party at my house with wine. I mostly want everyone to feel comfortable together before they’re nervous and onstage. Everyone reads their story, eats a lot of pizza and gives friendly feedback. It’s a love in. Then…we do a show.
What is the most rewarding part about being a curator?
Like anyone else, I want to see a performer succeed on stage. When a storyteller is really present on stage and they’re taking the audience for a ride it’s like magic. Getting to witness that moment is the best.
What do you hope to have happen with YBR in the future?
I really just want to continue to provide a space for people to share their stories. Beyond that? I’d like to produce a version of the show at my alma mater…the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
A little more about Jeremy Owens...
Jeremy Owens is the Barbra Streisand (creator, producer and host) of You’re Being Ridiculous. He has told stories all over Chicago with Lifeline Theatre’s Filet of Solo Festival, Story Club, Guts & Glory, Story Sessions and others. He’s a writer for Oy Chicago and Gapers Block and wants to be Whoopi Goldberg when he grows up.
You're Being Ridiculous shares stories every Friday on their website's blog and is always looking for contributors, so step right up!
Filed under: Interviews