CB Wilkins. Who is this man? You may follow him on Twitter or Facebook. You may have caught his stand-up routine at a variety of comedy havens in Hampton Roads. (I’ve even heckled him.) But who is he? Who is he really?
Once the door closes we never know where the heart of another may go. Most of us are too self absorbed to noticed or care. For those of us who can’t fight the urge to take another selfie longer than five or ten minutes at a time, we have the Q&A, an article format some prose purists criticize as lazy and shallow. Whatever.
Take a moment to learn a little something about CB Wilkins, who will join Tell Me More… Storytelling at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Push Comedy Theater, located in the heart of the Norfolk Arts District.
CB WILKINS’ STORYTELLER Q&A
(image by Loli Lilly)
(image by Loli Lilly)
Name: CB Wilkins
Location: Virginia Beach
Q. Who the hell are you?
A. I was hoping you’d already know. I’ve been doing stuff for years, I was hoping I’d be, at the very least, famous in my own hometown. Fine, it’s fine, whatever. I’m a standup comedian. I’m also a novelist. I’m also a podcaster. I’m also sometimes a baseball writer. Some people think I’m a photographer, but really I just take a lot of pictures.
Q. Why comedy?
A. I was nearing the end of failing at trying to make a movie with my friend Travis Jones for the second time. Both had been comedies and Travis mentioned trying to get on stage. We were going to do it together. We went to an open mic at 37th and Zen in Norfolk and I was hooked. Travis only did standup like four times. The jerk. But I loved it. I’ve never done drugs, and I never understood the appeal, but now that I’ve done comedy, I absolutely get it. It’s a cliche to be the guy who uses sarcasm and humor to cope with having a tough time growing up, but that’s definitely me. One of the things my friend Mike Easmeil and I talk about is the idea that when something awful happens, it has to be funny. It has to be, because otherwise, it’s just awful. And that’s not acceptable.
Q. Why storytelling?
A. Brendan Kennedy has been doing these storytelling nights for years around Hampton Roads and I’ve always been a huge supporter of them. It’s great to see the event find a real home at the Push Theater. Most of life is storytelling; that’s all we’re really doing on a daily basis, just sharing our story with everyone, all the time. I’m always baffled when people say things like, “I can’t write,” or, “I’m not good at telling stories,” because that’s all we do, directly and indirectly.
Q. What’s the difference between comedy and storytelling for you?
A. For me, the absolute best kind of comedy is storytelling. As great as comedians like Mitch Hedberg and Jimmy Carr are, and they’re phenomenal, their style of short, punchy jokes involving a lot of puns and wordplay just doesn’t speak to me as deeply as comics who are telling comedic stories. Life is inherently hilarious, even when it’s tragic and awful, so it only makes sense to make standup out of it. It’s so much easier to get invested in a comedian who’s being honest and real with you. Audiences can always tell when a comic isn’t being genuine, and I think for some guys there’s a legitimate sense of fear in exposing their real self, which is crazy since they’re already on stage opening themselves to mountains of judgement and rejection. When someone is willing to be honest about their life and present it in a way that makes me laugh, that’s the best.
Q. Which storyteller comedians do you admire and why?
A. Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, and Christopher Titus immediately leap to mind as great storytelling comedians, but nobody is better than Mike Birbiglia. And it’s so funny with him, because he was a pretty successful, very funny comedian who was just doing typical stuff, until he decided to focus on the storytelling, and after a few years just did it perfectly with his Sleepwalk With Me show. It’s perfect. There are funnier comedy specials, but I don’t think you can find one as honest and heartbreaking and entertaining. Start to finish he has every moment planned and they all intertwine and just work perfectly. He took the one big story of his life and made something perfect out of it.
Q. Didn’t Birbiglia once read one of your tweets on stage? Did that lead to a special kind of night *wink wink*?
A. I have no idea what that winking was for. He did read my tweet about being ridiculously far away from the stage before a show in Norfolk a few years ago. The funny part was I had actually moved closer, so we had a nice laugh. That show was good, but when I saw him do the Sleepwalk With Me show the year before in DC, wow, just perfect.
Q. What is love?
A. A series of chemical reactions.
Q. Do you believe in life after love?
A. Yes, it’s just more chemical reactions.
Q. Do you believe in magic?
A. Also chemical reactions.
Q. OK. I’ll stop with the corny love song references. Let’s change gears. How is performing on stage different from hanging with a group of your drunk friends?
A. Well, if you get drunk while we’re hanging out, I leave. Drunk people are not fun. But one huge difference between the stage and hanging out with my comic friends after the show is after the show we come up with awful, terrible, horrible things we would never say in front of other people. Just the most reprehensible, unimaginable things to make each other laugh. Because comedians are horrible people.
Q. Speaking of drunk friends, are we as funny as we think we are? Please explain.
A. No. You are not funny. You are annoying, loud, belligerent, and often violent. Also you make poor sexual decisions. When you say, “I’ve got a joke for you,” or, “you can’t use that in your act,” we want you to die in a fire.
Q. Describe your life story in six words?
A. Unfortunately, he never took any chances.
Q. What question should I have asked you that I didn’t?
A. My newest novel is called “Silver Eyes” and it’s available in paperback and on Kindle through Amazon. Go buy it. I don’t even care if you read it, just buy it.
JOIN HIM & FIVE OTHERS SUNDAY
Hopefully, by now, you picked up what I have been trying to put down about CB Wilkins. If not, here’s the deal: he’s a complex comedian with a number of talents, including not suffering drunken fools and, most important to our show, storytelling. CB will join the Tell Me More… Storytelling stage at 8 p.m. this Sunday with Brad McMurran, Amber Nettles, Kyle Reed, Rob Williams, Timmy Siverd and host Brendan Kennedy.
Each third Sunday of the month, Tell Me More… Storytelling host six storytellers sharing stories based on any inspiration they glean from a word and song provided by the show’s organizers. This month the word is “evolutions” and the song is “Man on the Moon,” REM. (Interested in giving storytelling a try? You can find a list of themes and pitch a story for an upcoming show on the Tell Me More… Storytelling site.) Admission is $5. For more information and updates on Sunday’s show, follow the event on Facebook.
SAMPLE TELL ME MORE… LIVE
For a taste of the sort of thing you’ll hear, give our most popular March podcast a listen. It features comedian Jon Small on how he didn’t get catfished when he met a girl on the internet.