More than likely, you’ve experienced the situation where the conversation at the table next to yours is more interesting than your own dinner banter. Between bites of baguette and sips of wine, you tilted your head just slightly to catch the end of the story, to find out just how clown school fits in with the gynecologist or what happened to the unwed couple who pretended to be married at a religious bed and breakfast in Waco, Texas.
On Sunday night at , there was no need for inconspicuous eavesdropping. Starting at 8 p.m., mere hours before perhaps the most divisive holiday on the calendar–loved by lovers, scorned by the scorned–11 people took turns with the microphone at Kings Break-Ups and Bad Dates Story Hour, offering up tales of when Cupid was more of a Joker.
Speaking to a room of roughly 40 guests in the dimly lit wine bar, an atmosphere that would prove to be nothing less than romantic the next night, participants were candid, self-deprecating and forgiving of the awkward and odd subjects of their stories. Hosted by Lisa “Lulu” Uhlig, Molly Barnes and Samantha Loesch, the event was an hour and a half of pure, uncensored, laugh-out-loud looks at uncomfortable dates and bad break-ups.
The definitions of dates and break-ups were deliberately loose–maybe it was a bad date with fate or a break-up with a job–though most stories were of failed romance. Most, but not all. Two stories told by featured guest and Twin Cities native Lizz Winstead had little to do with dating but had everyone in attendance nearly shooting their adult beverages out of their respective noses.
“She makes me snort-laugh,” Lisa Uhlig said in her introduction of Winstead.
Winstead, comedian, co-creator of The Daily Show, and prolific contributor to the media world in general, graced Kings Wine Bar with some comedic gems told from her seat on top of the bar.
From her perch on top of the bar, between other guests’ wine glasses and just slightly under a hanging light fixture, Winstead told a story about the gynecologist who first had her suspecting her impending death and then confessed he was leaving his practice to pursue his dream of attending clown school. Opening the story with, “It has nothing to do with romance, so bear with me,” and wrapping it up with, “If your first dream is clown college and your second is gynecology, the correlation is...small spaces?” Winstead was the fourth to speak during Story Hour and her entrance brought a new level of openness to the event.
After Lulu pulled three more names from the hat, Winstead returned for a second story, opening this one with, “I’m trying to think of some relationship story that doesn’t end with me throwing up or pregnant.” While the story she chose didn’t involve vomiting or fertilization, it did reference female anatomy again.
Sunday evening’s gathering was the fifth Story Hour at Kings, a monthly event open to anyone brave enough to participate and inspired by George Dawes Green’s The Moth. Lisa Uhlig originally started a Moth-like meeting at her condo last year with friends, including the owners of Kings Wine Bar, who suggested she move the event there.
“I thought, ‘Why can’t we have this in Minneapolis?’” Uhlig said. “Now we have it.”
The March Story Hour at Kings Wine Bar has not yet been scheduled and the theme is yet to be announced. Check the Kings calendar for details soon. Uhlig is also working on a podcast for the Story Hour.