LA-based comedian and touring Moth storyteller Jessica Lee Williamson spoke with the Weekly on the way to her job writing for Showtime’s dark comedy I’m Dying Up Here. Williamson is headed to Las Vegas to tell a story for the Good Night Gala, which will also feature Cirque du Soleil performers, naughty game-show host Miss Behave, author Tayari Jones, Clark County Poet Laureate Vogue Robinson and otherss. Hosted by Black Mountain Institute’s Joshua Wolf Shenk, the event will support the Waldorf-inspired Mojave Springs School.
What can we expect from your performance? Sometimes when people hear the the phrase “storytelling,” it sounds weird, nerdy or not very exciting. But you’re telling a story from your life that’s funny, and it’s combined with stand-up comedy. Anybody who doesn’t know what they’re in for will be pleasantly surprised.
What are some storytelling tips for someone who simply wants to rule cocktail hour? First: Be yourself. People will always find you compelling when you’re authentic. Second: It’s all about the little details. People [often] focus on the broad strokes of stories, but the very [interesting] parts are the small details within it. Finally: If you’re still crying about it, save it for therapy.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories? I draw most of my inspiration in the things I see out in the world that affect me in some way—things that make me laugh or cry. I love writing about real people.
You spent the past four years touring in the Moth mainstage and then left to become a TV writer this summer. How was the transition? I love all forms of storytelling; it utilizes the same skills. I feel like I’m lucking out on this show [I’m Dying Up Here]. It embraces both drama and comedy, which is my favorite type of storytelling. A lot of times, being a writer is lonely, and I get to sit in a room with a bunch of other writers, talk about life and psychology and make up a bunch of other stories.
What’s next for you? I have a pilot that I co-wrote with a fellow Moth storyteller that we’re still developing. We’re utilizing our Moth storytelling skills into a script, and it feels like we’ve written something really unique and exciting.
Goodnight Gala January 20, 7 p.m., $75-$125. The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, 702-903-1070.