From my experience of attending exactly one live episode, Risk is the kind of podcast you listen to when you’re gripping the razor blade over the bathroom sink and you really need to hear about a person whose life is worse than yours.
I mean, maybe there are funny episodes. The manic host fella did tell a gay sex romp to lead off the night. He also introduced the story telling theme of “Fuck It.” That concept should, in theory, be ripe for humor, right? It seems like the kind of thing you think or say before an amusing situation. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever said “fuck it!” without something hilarious happening immediately afterwards. For example:
- “FUCK IT!” I yelled as I loosed a cacophonous fart in the crowded subway car.
- “FUCK IT!” I yelled to my grimacing friend as he slowly, anxiously, delicately moved his penis towards the crocodile’s gaping jaws.
- “FUCK IT!” I yelled to Vin Diesel as I steered our vintage Mustang out of the International Space Station.
It’s the modern “here goes nothin’!” You’re all juiced up, ready to have some kind of exciting, super dope experience! Emotions running high! Nerves on edge! Butthole clenched! Fuck it!
Apparently, though, the participants in the Risk episode I attended hadn’t received this kind of pre-show pep talk. Instead, someone with a gun had told them that they were holding their families hostage. Or maybe they just came into the evening with a deeply, darkly skewed version of how “fuck it” works.
For example, one story teller seemed to have said “fuck it” to ever having a healthy relationship. Another seemed to have said “fuck it” when his girlfriend became hooked on the same drugs that were also slowly killing her mother. A third story teller said “fuck it” while his father had a heart attack or a stroke or something (???). Let’s be clear, that story was my favorite and it was humorous at times, but sticking to the theme was not the storyteller’s strong suit.
Perhaps the storytellers simply needed a day like ours. Lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market, delicious beer samples at Lakeshore Brewery, a fifth of gin split among friends in an unexpected hotel room party. Browning out in a restaurant while attempting to eat some kind of pizza. Realizing that splitting a fifth of gin was totally not part of the plan and oh my god how did that happen…but drunk enough to not really be concerned. Ordering a glass of chardonnay at the show and feeling just delightful as I talked to my neighbor about his life and how he traveled all the way from upstate Wisconsin to attend this one Risk show and how he was such a boring guy but I was absolutely fascinated by him nonetheless.
And I have to admit, the depressing stories did get to me. I was affected. I shed a single, comically large tear. I held one friend’s hand, and then another’s. The dying father story in particular, I mean, we all have dads, let’s be real. We don’t all have serial abusive boyfriends or drug addicted girlfriends, but I can safely say that most people have a father and that most of them would prefer their father to remain alive. So, that story got to me.
But in reality, I spent the majority of the affair legs crossed, glass of chardonnay balanced on my knee, my attention partially on the story, partially on the gay couple two rows up, the one man gently scratching the back of the other man’s head. I know that being/becoming gay is not like a light switch you can flip, but watching that couple for basically two straight hours while a young ex-accountant described his shithole life made me deeply, strongly desirous of a man. Several days later, I still get chills just thinking about that couple. God. It was the antithesis to the episode’s stories. Love, pure love, adrift in this verbal miasma of “I don’t think he knew how to stop beating me.” It was gorgeous and life-affirming and revelatory. I’m not saying that I’m gay now, but if some beautiful man wants to come gently scratch the back of my head, I am saying that I am open to that.