There are some stories that transport us to far-off lands or long-ago times. There are stories that whisk us off to places that have only ever existed in our collective imaginations. But then there are other tellers who focus on the kinds of shared experiences we’ve all had: a great teacher, an overbearing aunt who threatens to smother you with her bosoms, that stupid health assignment where you have to look after an egg.
Kim Weitkamp and Bil Lepp’s “Love and Other Headaches” concert falls firmly into the latter camp. Weitcamp’s telling style at times feels more stand-up comedian than storyteller; lots of carefully orchestrated punchlines. But a line of sweetness winds through her stories, too, with an emphasis on family–even when it’s ridiculous, which it usually is. Her very best line came when she stopped focusing quite so much on humor and instead reflected that “sometimes we don’t recognize a moment until it’s become a memory.” It’s a shrewd observation, and, in a way, the very basis of storytelling. We can’t always see what matters when it’s right in front of us, but with storytelling, we can keep it alive forever once we see its import.
In contrast, Lepps’s style is all about fast-talking tall-tales. He truly spins a story, one tale leading seamlessly into the next before doubling back and returning to the original story. His first story, “The Worst Christmas Ever,” somehow manages to incorporate a fear that his father will shoot Rudolph, a misunderstanding about a trip to see Elephant Gerald (say it out loud), and a small-town teacher’s failed attempts to teach world religions. Delivered in rapid-fire style with a West Virginia drawl, the result is compelling, funny, and utterly relatable.
I’ll admit to being biased: I prefer stories that take me to places I’ve never been before. But Weitkamp and Lepp are enjoyable companions for an evening spent closer to home.
PS, any other ISTEP kids have flashbacks to “A lepp is a ball”? Just me?