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Claire Hennessy presents: The Bonkers Brit
56 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 37: Eps 37: Fellow Brit Simon Brooks Talks Folktales – Part Two
In part two of my chat with British storyteller, humorist and raconteur Simon Brooks, we talk about what he found different when first arriving in America and then go on to chat about how he first got into storytelling. From telling stories as a youth hostel manager, to entertaining his kids as a stay-at-home-dad, to digging down below the surface and honoring the origins of a story he wants to tell. Simon explains the reason behind setting up his successful podcast “Friday with Friends.” Plus how a magical dragon helped him with artwork for his CDs and how to take a good selfie. We both share a story about famous people being caught unawares and then Simon finishes with a lovely English tale. www.simonbrooksstoryteller.com
45 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 36: Eps 36: Fellow Brit, Simon Brooks Talks Folktales – Part One
I am delighted to have as my guest, fellow Brit, Simon Brooks. Simon is a full-time storyteller, telling traditional tales, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of various folktales and legends. I learned a lot from our chat. We discuss how some of today’s lack of communication could be down to people not telling stories around the table to their kids. He talks about going into schools to tell stories and teach workshops on the art of storytelling and how different that is now everything is virtual. Simon also works with the Children’s Literacy Foundation, and has been a “feral children’s librarian,” and even tells stories in prisons. He was so interesting to talk to that we lost track of time and I had to split his interview into two parts. Do NOT miss Part two as he tells a wonderful story.
54 minutes | 4 months ago
Eps 35: Jessica Robinson – Alcohol virginity, swearing and movie stars behaving badly!
WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE. This episode I talk to a relatively new friend of mine from Fairfax, Virginia, Jessica (Piscitelli) Robinson. She is the founder of the storytelling show, Better Said Than Done, which she set up in 2011 in Northern Virginia, to avoid having to drive into DC and park! She’s told stories in many places, some great, some small. As she says: she’s a big deal! She is also a writer, author and producer. She tells a funny story regarding the fact that she didn’t lose her alcohol virginity until she was 21 years old, which involved an unpleasant experience with Kimchi, (spicey rotted cabbage, according to Jessica). She talks about Roar: True Tales of Women Warriors - a storytelling series and a book anthology and now a festival, to give women more of a voice. Then she tells another funny story about her dad’s creative use of swearing, particularly with the F-word. We also talked about kids, home-schooling on Zoom, her one-woman show on Fertility. Then she ends the show about her time in the film business straight out of film school, and how a famous 1990’s movie star had a tantrum and stopped the entire filming for a very unusual reason.
62 minutes | 5 months ago
Eps 33: Moments of Magic with Brandon Spars
My guest this episode is one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet: Brandon Spars. He is not only a talented and hilarious storyteller, but he is jolly clever too! A high school and college teacher, he is the author of four books with another on the way. He is a five-time Moth StorySlam winner and two-time Moth GrandSlam winner, plus a TEDx speaker. Brandon shares a funny fact about himself that makes his dog tilt his head in confusion. He spent a few years living in Indonesia and the Marshall Islands and shares a funny story about a giant who terrorized the islands. We talk about The Moth and Brandon shares an inspiring tidbit from when he met the founder, George Dawes Green. He also talks about the moments of magic when hearing a traditional tale prompts a deep personal connection. We discuss his new book about controversial Balinese Goddess, Rangda, with beautiful illustrations by his daughter, Clara. Finally, Brandon gives a master class in how to tell a hilarious and yet moving story, highlighting deeper issues of the commonalities between panic disorders and trance, called A Method to my Madness. A dream guest.
51 minutes | 5 months ago
Eps 32: A glimpse into the extraordinary world of Sheila Arnold
This episode, I talk to one of the hardest working and most delightful storytellers around, Sheila Arnold. Based out of Hampton, VA, Ms. Sheila, as she is fondly known, has been performing full-time since 2003. She is an incredible storyteller, but that is just one of the many, many hats she wears. She is also an inspirational and motivational speaker, historical consultant bringing characters of historical importance to life, Consultant of Truth and Reconciliation for the Storytelling Association of California, and co-founder of Artists Standing Strong Together, now a 501c whose mission is: Connecting Artists to Resources. We talked about her work as a woman of color in the Black Lives Matter movement and how she has deepened her friendship with her two best friends, who just happen to be white. Ms Sheila is not only humble, but deeply generous with her time and knowledge, with great dollops of bravery thrown in too. She told a funny story about flashing an intimate body part on Zoom and ended with a lovely and moving story about her son.
45 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode 31 - Funny Stories with Corey Rosen
The very talented Corey Rosen is my guest. Corey teaches and performs storytelling and improv in San Francisco and now online. He performs at BATS Improv and has hosted The Moth StorySlams in the Bay Area for over 6 years. He tells a funny incident about how, when emceeing, he told a story that made the audience hate him! True to his improv background, he also told a couple of funny stories on the fly, one about hurting himself quite badly trying to impress other people and the other about being humiliated trying to be cool. Corey is also a writer, creative director, and visual effects producer and tells a very interesting fact about working on one of the Star Wars films. Find out an industry secret when Corey spills the beans on which body part Han Solo is missing due to Corey’s over-zealous editing. Such a fun and interesting chat.
56 minutes | 6 months ago
Eps 30: Naked comedy with Calvin Cato
Warning: EXPLICIT! This episode’s guest, Calvin Cato, made me laugh a lot! He is not only hilarious, being an award-winning comedian, storyteller, podcaster and actor, but a really lovely person. Calvin was named Time Out New York’s Queer Comics of Color to Watch Out For and, when not in a worldwide pandemic, he hosts speed-dating events. He tells a funny story about one speed-dating event involving Long Island Iced Teas! We discuss the word Queer and why Calvin has reclaimed this word. We also chat about how he got onto a well known gameshow because of a naked party he went to at college. He has also performed at FOUR naked comedy shows, which was fascinating to me, so we delved into why he did that. When you’ve finished listening, you’ll love Calvin too.
68 minutes | 7 months ago
Eps 29 – Life at an English boarding school with Tanya and Bucket
I was thrilled, not to mention thoroughly over-excited, to interview my two best friends, Tanya and Bucket. We talk about what life was like at an English boarding school back in the early 70’s, including lumpy horsehair mattresses and apple-pie beds, formidable and sadistic matrons, school uniform and why we had to wear TWO pairs of knickers (panties), plus why food was such an important part of our lives and not always in a good way! We spill the beans on the strange and secret games we got up to after lights out in the dormitories, including spanking competitions, midnight feasts and unusual dares. And, of course, the punishments, always the punishments, as we got caught by matron all the time! If you ever wanted a candid glimpse into another life, this is the podcast for you!
50 minutes | 7 months ago
Eps 28: Interview with the Ambassador of Fun, Robin Gelfenbien
I virtually met the wonderful and talented Ambassador of Fun, Robin Gelfenbien during the COVID-19 shut-down. She’s a New York based comedian, storyteller, podcaster, writer, producer and coach. She was a delightful and effortless guest, talking about storytelling and the yummy ice cream cakes she makes for her in-person New York show “Yums The Word”. She is fearless, with balls of steel, when it comes to getting famous guests to come on her shows, such as Tim Gunn from Project Runway. She also sings for me – something I avoid at all costs – a funny little ditty called “Jesus Steals my Thunder” because her birthday is the day after Christmas (Boxing Day to us Brits!) … with a last line to watch for! She talks about the time she shared the stage with Hannah Gadsby and then finishes with a funny story which restored her faith in humanity at a low time in her life. I could have talked for hours so I hope to have Robin on again in the future.
43 minutes | 8 months ago
Eps 27 – Sidney, Joy & Journey talk Black Lives Matter
Sidney, 37, from Nerds on a Couch once again guests on my show to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. We were joined by two young activists: Journey, 21, training to be an EMT and Joy, 19, student at San Diego State University while also working for a non-profit. They talk about what they feel is different about the current situation, what types of conversations are now happening and what these two young people feel about on-going racism. Sidney talks about some personal experiences she has had to go through in her life which brings it home what some people have had to go through. Joy and Journey share their worries and concerns as well as discussing some positive solutions, and how forgiveness should also be part of the equation.
47 minutes | 10 months ago
Eps 26: Mary Carouba, Part 2 - Prison Life!
Because she was so great, I had to bring Mary Carouba back to talk about a subject I am inordinately interested in – prisons. Instead of dreaming of getting married or becoming a doctor or lawyer or famous artist, Mary spent her childhood scheming how to survive in prison! She was convinced she was headed there, and it was only the Delancey Street Foundation that saved her. Part of the philosophy at Delancey Street was to “Act as if” and Mary describes how she used this to completely change her outlook on life. This also helped when Mary took a Delancey Street initiative into prisons. She gives a fascinating glimpse into what daily life is like in prison, how gangs totally rule, how inmates are treated really badly, but also how successful the initiative has been in stopping violence and giving inmates some self-respect.
47 minutes | 10 months ago
Eps 25 – The Life and Times of Mary Carouba, Part 1
I was thrilled to invite Mary Carouba back, this time to talk about her very interesting life. In fact, it was so interesting, I have had to split this into two episodes. In Part 1, we start off talking about rats and squirrels for some bizarre reason and then get back on track and talk about how receiving a life-saving liver transplant from a 14-year-old boy had the consequence of Mary performing 100 acts of kindness. Mary then talks about her traumatic childhood, where she received a lot of physical and emotional abuse. She shares the different roles that kids play in dysfunctional families and then goes on to explain how her unusual upbringing prepared her for her career in Child Protective Services. Rather than being a victim, Mary takes full responsibility for her life and explains how she has total forgiveness for all the people who have mistreated her in her life. We also had time to talk about why she wrote the critically acclaimed book “Women at Ground Zero – Stories of Courage and Compassion” about the incredibly brave women who were completely unacknowledged and unseen after 9/11.
33 minutes | 10 months ago
Eps 24 – Nancy Davis Kho: The Thank You Project
I was delighted to interview a friend of mine, Nancy Davis Kho. She is the author of a fabulous book called The Thank You Project, where she describes how, in her 50th year, she decided to write 50 thank you letters. It is a really interesting book and Nancy is a really interesting person to interview. She talks not only about how amazing it was to write the letters and how it changed her life in lots of ways, but also some of science behind why gratitude is such a powerful tool.
33 minutes | a year ago
Eps 23 Storytelling with Mary Carouba and Regina Stoops
This episode I chat with Mary Carouba and Regina Stoops, who are two very talented comedians and storytellers. Together, due to the Covid-19 and the fact that we can no longer meet in person, we have started Six Feet Apart Productions, and in particular, Sunday Night Stories. We chat about why we came up with a live storytelling YouTube Show and what the challenges have been. How does it translate from being in front of live audiences to telling a story from your living room, with nothing but a little green dot to connect you with everyone? As usual, we end with a quick funny story.
38 minutes | a year ago
Eps 22 -Dating in the Gay Community
Warning: Adult content! This week I interview my good friend GB (aka “Gay Boy”) and he explains why he calls me “The Gay Whisperer” and how we bonded over our shared love of UK sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. GB gives us a fascinating glimpse at the gay dating scene, including why older men are much in demand at the moment. We each find there are some words that need explaining – like “slapper,” “under the sheets,” “sex blanket” and “the Daddy Stroll.” As well as being hilarious, the talk also gets serious as we discuss the Aids crisis and how that compares to the current coronavirus pandemic.
27 minutes | a year ago
Eps 21 – Part 2 of the interview with Julie Gunn and Flamenco Guitar with Ricardo Garcia
Part 2 of my interview with Julie Gunn. We start with some more lovely music from Ricardo and then Julie tells a funny story about accosting a hip-hop street dancer on the streets of San Francisco. She then explains about their fabulous workshops for children and institutions which started in New Jersey and then they took them all over Africa and shares about the benefits of clapping. There was another funny story about one particular prison and how the big burly prison guards took to Flamenco. Plus, what does tree-planting have to do with Flamenco dancing? I end with Julie singing a couple of songs with Ricardo from a concert they performed at my house while they were staying. www.ricardogarciaguitarist.com
41 minutes | a year ago
Episode 20 – Part 1: Manifesting with Julie Gunn and Flamenco Guitar with Ricardo Garcia
I was thrilled to interview my great friend Julie Gunn, who manages her extremely talented partner of 27 years, Ricardo Garcia, world renowned, Award-winning Flamenco and Classical guitarist. They were staying with us and I had forgotten how much I drink when with a fellow Brit, so had a sore head a few mornings. Julie reveals how she is a “manifesting maven” or you might think it purely coincidental, that’s up to you. She talks about the surprising story of how she and Ricardo met, plus fascinating stories about their travels all over the world, from Edinburgh in Scotland, across Africa and to San Francisco. From female plumbers with hilarious names to accosting hip hop dancers on the streets, Julie has been one of my most interesting guests so far. At the end, Ricardo treats us to some beautiful guitar.
38 minutes | a year ago
Eps 19: Alcohol, Beats and Kidnapping!
This episode I sit down with Kyle David, a friend of my stepson Benj, who works at Legion Beats. We talk about his journey from drinking too much, through rehab and how having a positive attitude has transformed his life. Legion Beats has had a lot to do with it too. I like to end on a funny story and this time we found out we both had kidnapping stories! You decide which one was the scariest!
38 minutes | a year ago
Eps 18 – Dating: What it was like back in the day
As a follow-on to my last episode, Bug and I talk about what it was like to date back before the dawn of time … well, before mobile phones and the internet, which is just about the same thing! We talk about the “Dating Apps” of our time: the pub, school dances, parties, friends, work. How the order of things was not sex first and then let’s get to know each other, but the other way round! And sometimes, no sex at all! Plus, Bug reveals a pick-up line that actually worked, a surprising incident with a very forward young lady, and a lovely romantic memory of his Dad.
40 minutes | a year ago
Eps 17: Dating – Everything you always wanted to know and more from a serial dater!
This episode I interview my stepson, Ben (or Count Henny as he is known in the music biz!) about dating in the 2020’s. What Apps are good, how to use them, are they purely for sex! Ben lets us into a couple of secrets for speeding up the dating process and shares some of his more interesting dates, plus what happened when the reality really didn’t match up to the profile! By the end I am in awe of his stamina (and impressed with his chivalry at times), but also thanking my lucky stars that I’m happily married and not needing to date anymore!
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