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‘And I Am Not Lying’ Returns to the Black Cat in Washington DC, July 12th

July 5th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

**UPDATE – Dave Hill had to cancel because of some unforeseen circumstances. He is being replaced by the incomparable Paul Oddo.**

‘And I Am Not Lying’ is roaring back into town and cock-rocking the NPR crowd at The Black Cat on Friday, July 12th, at 9PM.

This show is going to leave a smoldering crater on 14th St NW, featuring a Game of Thrones-themed burlesque act from Corvette LeFace, Afro-Brazilian percussion from the 20-woman band Batala, comedy from Dave Hill, more burlesque from Cherry Pitz, and of course, storytelling by Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman, and Jeff Simmermon (me.)

Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door – available here. Seating will be limited, so you’ll want to get a ticket in advance and get there early if you want to sit down.

Here’s a poster I made for the thing, performer videos after the jump:

AndIAmNotLyingBlackCat_July12

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Found Art Nostalgia: I Miss My Old Brain

November 26th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

I found this painting that I made in college on the wall at some old friends’ house in Richmond, VA this weekend. I haven’t seen it in years.

I actually got into writing and storytelling through visual art – when I was majoring in painting, I was obsessed with comics, Southern folk art and outsider art, Congolese power figures and sacred Voodoo and Santeria art. In voodoo and Santeria (as I understood it at the time), practitioners go into a trance and become the spirits they’re communicating with, and create altars in the home that are both doorways to a particular orisha and a living representation of the orisha itself, made from found objects.

I got really into writing stories on my work, making comic book pages out of junk I’d find in the woods and getting into a sort of trance-like state in the studio I had in my barn and letting whatever voice was talking take control of my hands until the thing was done. Eventually the words took up more and more of the the work and I just started writing. Then, telling a story wasn’t necessarily a craft so much as a thing that came out of a state, like a ship sliding out of a rip in the universe.

I think this was done on an old road sign that I found deep in George Washington National Forest. I know I got that image from an old comic, and I definitely recall writing all of this in one go, with a Sharpie. No drafts, no revising, crossing out, no wondering what the audience would think or trying to be likable. Just moving forward.

Here’s the piece:

sarah_painting

The text reads:

“On that dark day when the Sun rises in the West and decides to set in the East, these gargantuan striped giants will appear suddenly from ??Elsewhere?? and set to the business of devouring the earth. Neither animal, vegetable, nor man-made machine, they are insatiable, and know no reason or moral code. They only know that they must perform the impossible: fill their ravenous GUTS.

The Fantastic Four and the entire Marvel Universe subscribe to the belief that GALACTUS is the eater of worlds, but I tell you with the straightest of all straight faces that GALACTUS is a mere DUST MITE compared to these black-and-white beasties.

We could, and probably will, head for the hills or lie screaming in storm cellars with paper sacks over our heads during that fateful time, but it will only make our moment of consumption more frenzied and embarrassing.

We may as well die picnicking as pleading to a recently discovered God. Mankind will finally realize what the insects knew all along: Nature knows no right or wrong.

Our constant struggle with good and evil set us apart from the animals, but on that day, we will finally be free from that boring struggle and I just hope that more people than just me have the sense to enjoy it.

This used to have two bicycle fenders painted to look like the creatures in question, glued to the top. They broke off pretty quickly, though. When I look at this, I feel a blast of nostalgia for a time when I could disappear into a barn for several hours, sure. But I also miss having that degree of concentration, and that practiced flow. It’s take me about 90 minutes to write this post, and half of it is simple transcription.

Mostly, I miss my old brain: the one that knew when to think and when to get out of the way and let the art fall out.

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And I Am Not Lying Live at The Black Cat on December 9th with Special Guest Go-Go Harder

November 15th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

**UPDATE** We have added comedian Paul Oddo to this show. Paul recently won the Boston Comedy Festival, and we’re stoked to have him!**

Man, Brad, Cyndi and I love doing shows in Washington, D.C. We get to see old friends, the Black Cat treats us incredibly well (you can tell it’s run by musicians) and the people seem to be pretty into it.

We’re coming back to the Black Cat in DC on Sunday, December 9th at 8PM. This time we’re going to be in the big upstairs room, too – which is pretty much an actual dream come true for me. Rather than sell out the small room downstairs and add a second show, we figured we’d do it all at once up there.

Here’s a poster I made for the thing, inspired by one I saw for “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”:

And I Am Not Lying at The Black Cat, 12.9.2012

As always, the show will feature storytelling by me (Jeff Simmermon), Brad Lawrence and Cyndi Freeman – who will also be doing a few burlesque acts. We’re really, really excited to have New York’s boylesque superstar Go-Go Harder join us onstage that night, too.

“What’s ‘boylesque?’” you may ask, followed by “Who the hell is ‘Go-Go Harder?’”

WELL. Among other things, he’s one of NYC’s first, foremost and finest male burlesque performers – and one of the subjects of this article on the boylesque phenomenon in the New York Times.

Here’s a quote from the piece that I loved:

… “Audiences go crazy for glittered nipples,” he told them. “The hipsters can’t handle it.”

This is not a night at Chippendales, and, according to Mr. Harder, that is a good thing. “Boylesque celebrates a large range of bodies with different sizes and shapes,” he said. “This idea of seeing nontraditional masculine men onstage is very new, and I feel boylesque is changing that for the better.”

We’ll also be joined by comedian Paul Oddo, who recently won the 2012 Boston Comedy Festival.

Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door – get ‘em here: Tickets for And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat on December 9th. The room is going to be mixed seating and standing, with roughly a hundred chairs on the floor, and the rest standing room only. If you need a seat, you may want to plan to get there early.

If you want to check out a trailer and put it on your blog or something, you can do that here:

And, if you happen to be working for a media outlet and want to write about this, you can find our electronic press kit here: And I Am Not Lying EPK

Hope we see you at the show!

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Recap: And I Am Not Lying at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA

September 16th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

The Crack-Up

We did a show at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA last week – sponsored by WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. They even recorded me and pulled together a cool little plug on the radio for it – you can hear that here: And I Am Not Lying: Live, Raw Storytelling.

We were joined by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra, a bunch of folks who play the typewriter musically a hell of a lot better than I did it when I was dabbling in the genre.

The show sold out, which was a hell of a kick – there’s nothing like busting your hump for a month and seeing it pay off.

I’m booking all our stuff out of town now and arranging all the press, too. It’s always a hurricane of phone calls, emails and text messages, last-minute changes and just … STUFF. I’ve never once had a show where there wasn’t a surprise, a change, a sudden boulder of bullshit falling at the last minute like a turd-studded iceberg of waste from a crack in a passing jetliner. At this point, I get a little nervous when it doesn’t happen.

And getting people in the door is my primary source of stress. I’m trying to get to where I don’t take empty seats personally, but it’s a long, slow journey.

We’re not at the point where we can count on a sold-out show, or really any kind of turnout at all. People don’t know the name of the show yet, and I ain’t exactly a draw on my name alone. This isn’t like music, where people bring friends to see a band based on the genre.

You can say “hey man, there’s a really sweet reggae band playing tonight, let’s check ‘em out,” and you’ll get some good walk-in. With comedy, you can say to your friends “hey, this venue that regularly books comedians is having some comedians perform tonight. Let’s go have some laughs,” and you might get some decent walk-ins.

We have no established genre. The best thing someone can say to sell us is “hey, this guy that was on This American Life three years ago is going to say a lot of SAT words and also a lot of cuss words, and it may be really funny but it may also be kind of depressing. Also, they might have some people do burlesque performances in addition to other storytellers who also have a lot of feelings they would like to share.”

You’re not going to hear Conan O’Brien say “We’ve got a very charming and thought-provoking storyteller on the show tonight” anytime soon. People that aren’t into The Moth or This American Life think that storytelling is either standup comedy or some dude in a bowtie and a seersucker suit at a folk festival talking about growing up on the farm.

So when I see a line stretching out through the door of the club, through the restaurant and out the front door, curving around the block and around the corner I just want to jump up on top of the bar and spike a football. I always try to walk along the whole line and just drink it all in.

All these people made tonight their date night, their going-out night, and they did it because they wanted to be THERE, with us, seeing something a little new and weird. I wanna kiss every last one of them, at least until they start fooling with their phones.

The first half of the show was a dream. I’ve been busting ass on actual joke-writing to build a standup set ever since a tragic crash-and-burn a month or so back. And to deploy those jokes on a roomful of cheering, happy people – it was like riding a gold-plated surfboard down a sunbeam. Everything was cruising like a dream during the first half, every performer killing and the Boston Typewriter Orchestra rocking it …

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WBUR Presents: And I Am Not Lying Live in Boston, Sept. 13th @ The Middle East

September 5th, 2012 by Cyndi Freeman

We are coming to Boston next week with the help of WBUR!
This is my hometown and it is great to be coming back with such an amazing line-up of folks. Arts critic Bill Marx has just interviewed me about the show and my many years performing in Bean-town, you can read that right here: http://artsfuse.org.

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Wonder Woman Ties Up the Cheetah at And I Am Not Lying Live

June 13th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

Well, I’m tickled to all hell right now. We’re bringing the And I Am Not Lying live show to the Black Cat in DC on Thursday, June 14th, and I’m told that we’ve sold out the 8PM show. We’re adding a late show that night, with doors at 10PM. You can see more info on the Black Cat’s site here and get advance tickets here: And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat, 10 PM show.

This is a photo from a show that we did last year at L’Etage in Philadelphia, just to give you folks at home a taste:

Runaround Sue, Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman 3 (by Ryan Collerd)

This is Wonder Woman apprehending the Cheetah while Steve Trevor looks on with a stupefied, dreamlike amazement. I’ve never seen someone be more hesitant about their rescue in all my life. Cyndi Freeman/Cherry Pitz is Wonder Woman, Runaround Sue is the Cheetah, and Brad Lawrence is Steve Trevor. Photo is by the genuine, warm and spectacular Ryan Collerd.

As it turns out, we’ll be coming back to Philadelphia on August 4th, too. So keep watching the skies, people – we hope to see you really soon.

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Dream Suit

June 4th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

I took this photo at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville over Memorial Day weekend. I want this suit (and shirt) so badly that I can taste it:

Dream Suit

I’m not sure if it would detract from a story, though. I kind of try to be as relatable as possible, and this might push it. On the other hand, if Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton and pretty much every other country star can pull off a brain-burning suit like this one in contrast to an “aw, shucks” personality, who’s to say someone else can’t?

Here are a two shots of Gram Parsons’ infamous Nudie suit, just for kicks:
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And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat, Washington DC, June 14th

June 1st, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

**UPDATE**
The 8PM And I Am Not Lying Live show at the Black Cat is now sold out. We have added another show that night – also at the Red Room at the Black Cat. Doors are at 10PM, tickets are still $12. You can get tickets for the 10 PM show here.
**/END UPDATE/**

We brought the And I Am Not Lying live show to the Black Cat in Washington, DC last year. And I don’t mind telling you that it was a lifetime highlight. The show sold out and everyone killed. I could have gotten shot by snipers on the way out of the club and not felt a damn thing.

So it thrills me to tell all you people that our sputtering cargo plane is going to crash back into the Black Cat’s mountain and spray the whole ZIP code with fuel. We’re bringing the planet’s first best and only comedy storytelling burlesque sideshow back to the Red Room on Thursday, June 14th!

You can get advance tickets to the 10PM show here: And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat

Here’s a flyer and a cool trailer, text info on performers after the jump:

And I Am Not Lying - Live at the Black Cat

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Schedule of Events for And I Am Not Lying Tent at SXSW

February 22nd, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon


party park

Originally uploaded by greggrestonva

Via Flickr:

UPDATE – 3.9.2012

The tent at Palm Park is flooded out – there’s a whole ecosystem in there underneath the folding chairs. We are moving ALL of the And I Am Not Lying events scheduled for March 10th at SXSW to the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Austin – just a few blocks from Palm Park and the convention center. The hotel is at 500 North IH-35/Frontage Road, Austin, TX. Here’s a map.

Our stuff is now going to be on the 18th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Austin in the Colorado and Red River rooms. The content and times will stay exactly the same.

Last week (I think) I may have mentioned that we’re putting on a whole tentload of activities at South By Southwest Interactive this year. If I am completely honest, it’s all I can do not to tear my shirt off and swing through the streets of New York screaming about this like a somewhat flabbier Tarzan.

We’ve finally gotten some stuff locked down with the tent and the order of events, and I just wanted to use this blog post to detail everything so you, me, and airbody else can hose down the Internet with this thing.

First of all: all of this takes place on March 10, 2012 in a tent in Palm Park, adjacent to the Austin Convention Center. Map here.

We’ve got a Tumblr blog set up especially for news about this which you can see here: And I Am Not Lying at SXSW. You can follow us on Twitter at @andiamnotlying and/or by using the hashtag #notlyingSXSW.

The And I Am Not Lying tent will be next to a tent sponsored by Miller. Miller will be giving badgeholders 2 free beers apiece. So there’s that to look forward to.

We’re going to be offering programming based around standup comedy, improv, and storytelling from 11 AM to 6PM, all day long. That programming is predicated around this one simple concept:

Stories are ancient and awesome, everyone loves to laugh, and Web conferences – even the best Web conference in the world – can get SO. FRICKING. BORING.

It’s not really the fault of the programmers. It’s just that … sitting there with a bunch of people while looking at a Powerpoint presentation is not that inherently exciting. Sitting around and pretending to be fascinated while someone guy in a blue dress shirt says “we’re going to leverage the API to drive traffic into out key niche markets, improving ROI and capture metrics” is exhausting. Doubly so when it comes from someone that works in marketing.

A lot of panelists are there to sell you something, to flog their book or promote their startup. We’re not. The only thing we’re trying to sell is our skill as storytellers and comics, and maybe get some better shows out of it in towns that we’d like to visit.

We’re going to sell that to you by being awesome at what it is we do: telling stories and making people laugh.

I know a lot of people come to Interactive for work, and are under some pressure to demonstrate what they learned and justify the expense. We think you learn more when you’re having fun – and honestly, what’s the better learning environment? The dim and stuffy conference room with flickering fluorescent lights, and a guy droning on about “leveraging the power of digital storytelling in a Web 2.0 environment” — or the people that do this on stages, in boardrooms and in burlesque bars 5-20 times a week? This stuff applies to pretty much any discipline, really.

Here’s a breakdown of what we’re offering, hour-by-hour. This is the copy I submitted to the folks at SXSW, anyway, but it’s not on the official schedule or the SXSW app yet, so you may have to write it down on your hand or something:

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And I Am Not Lying LIVE will be Performing and Coaching at SXSW Interactive 2012

February 8th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon
SXSW Daytime Street Scene  - Credit: Brittany Ryan

SXSW Daytime Street Scene | Credit: Brittany Ryan

I’m pretty stoked to tell you this:

And I Am Not Lying is not only putting on a show but a whole tent of action and entertaining education at South by Southwest Interactive this year.

It’s coming together really, really fast and last-minute — not unlike most things at SXSW. Here’s what we do know:

We’re going to have a tent on Saturday, March 10th, from 11 AM to 6PM in Palm Park, right next to the convention center.

We’ll be offering an improv comedy workshop taught by musical improv comedy legend Eliza Skinner, of Baby Wants Candy, Diamond Lion and “Amy at the Club” fame.

We’ll also be offering a storytelling workshop taught by Cyndi Freeman and me (Jeff Simmermon). Cyndi’s an experienced storyteller here in NYC, and an instructor with The Moth’s MothSHOP outreach program, though she is not representing the Moth at this thing. As for me, I just do this a whole, whole lot — and teach story structure and writing in my day job at Time Warner Cable, too.

There’s also going to be a panel discussion about storytelling, from the burlesque backroom to the corporate boardroom with stage and radio in between. Panelists will include me, Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman as well as Seth Lind of TOLD! (one of the city’s best story shows), comedy improv troupe Thank You, Robot, and This American Life. Thaler Pekar, communications coach/organizational narrative expert will also join us on the panel.

We haven’t quite determined the precise timing and order of the workshops and panels. But I know this much – we’re taking a taco break from 2-4 while the Interactive keynotes happen.

And then, from 4-6 PM, we’re putting on a version of the And I Am Not Lying LIVE show featuring storytelling, comedy and sideshow from some of our spectacularly talented friends.

Just guess who three of the storytellers are. I dare you.If you guessed Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman, and Jeff Simmermon, then good for you.

Here’s the really cool thing: we’re next to a tent that gives out free beer. As I understand it right now, this is what SXSW calls a “networking tent”, whereby badgeholders get a couple of free drinks. That’s always where the most magic happens for me at SXSW anyway.

So look: at some point, all the Powerpoints and pointy-headed talks about memes are gonna get old. When they do, we’re outside in the shade and ready to entertain you. Come over, grab a couple cold ones and hang out with us. The whole tent is a polished-up and prettified presentation based around trash-talking with a purpose in the first place — and we’ve worked hard to get good at it.

As a matter of fact, it’s pretty much what we live for. Come hang out with us and you can tell your boss that you went to a few work-appropriate panels if you want.

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