Storytelling That Sets You Free

Chris Vititoe.

By Minda Honey  |  Out & About

The last Thursday of every month, Chris Vititoe and Mandee McKelvey turn Decca’s cellar into a “cave for secrets.” The pair co-hosts a storytelling series that originated in Chicago, “We Still Like You.” “WSLY” bills itself as an opportunity to tell stories from your past that “make you feel weird” to a room full of “friendly strangers” – Trust me, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to see some of Louisville’s funniest comedians out of their element.

Mandee McKelvey.

I attended their fifth show in May. The sizable crowd indicates that Louisville is a city that loves a good story, in fact there are two other regular storytelling series in town: The Moth at Headliners and The Mothra that takes place in the back room at Kaiju. McKelvey says the comedians get just as much from storytelling as the crowd does: “Comedians need time and space to sort out personal bits instead of just trying to say something that will make the audience laugh in 30 seconds.” McKelvey continues, “Any [jerk] can write a joke – that’s just Twitter. But it takes a gifted performer to fill a room with their presence and make an audience feel something.”

Vititoe says McKelvey is that performer: “She is an incredible storyteller. She’s also very shameless. She will not hesitate to [joke] on herself. Seriously one of the most genuine people I know. [‘WSLY’] was really just an excuse to hear more of her stories.” Vititoe and McKelvey trade off hosting and storytelling duties every month. McKelvey, who runs the popular “Character Assassination” roast, had just returned from Chicago, where she’d been squeezed into the lineup on the original “We Still Like You,” when Vititoe reached out to her randomly to see if she’d be interested in starting a storytelling series with him. McKelvey recounts, “[Vititoe] was done just trying to get chuckles. He really wanted to say something.” The two liked the format of “WSLY” so much that they reached out about becoming a sister show.

After each comedian tells their super vulnerable story, the crowd chants, “WE STILL LIKE YOU!” Vititoe says there’s no better place to “land your shame plane.” Some stories walked the line between tragedy and comedy beautifully like headliner Keith McGill’s story about losing his mother the same day he was supposed to perform in his first big movie role and later running into the man who landed his big break thanks to McGill’s misfortune. Each show is recorded and submitted to the “We Still Like You” podcast. Louisville hasn’t been featured on the podcast yet, but the series is still young. There is no cover and each show lasts a little under two hours, allowing each comedian 10 to 15 minutes to tell their story – and you have plenty of time to partake in a cocktail at Decca’s cellar bar. Anyone who feels like making public their most embarrassing tale can contact “We Still Like You” on Facebook to be put in touch with Vititoe and McKelvey. VT