by Ex Fabula bloggers Hanna Gichard and Kimberly Ousley

On Wednesday, November 13th, we went “Off the Record” at Lucille’s Piano Bar and Grill. Nine storytellers delighted a full house to juicy and hilarious stories. Missed out? Read on for an “on the record” scoop. 

As an 18-year-old bartender at Mo’s Irish Pub, Dana Lovrek would pass the time making up stories about herself to drunk customers for amusement. But she learned her lesson after work one night while hanging out with a couple of unnaturally tall and hopelessly intoxicated Chicago lawyers she had met during her shift. Her little white lie about whether a boat in the Rock Bottom dock belonged to her ended with one of them falling into the river!

Adam Carr took us on an adventure set in Austin’s legendary South by Southwest festival, where an overly generous helping of special cookies at brunch soon turned into singing flowers, an antiquing trip, and Adam confessing to a stranger on a shuttle bus how much he needed him (only to have the stranger turn his head and light a cigarette. Harsh.). We’re glad Adam pulled it together enough to make it back to his hotel room that day and that his epic off-the-record story lives on.

While spending a semester at sea during his “wannabe-hippie” college days, Stuart Rudolph’s impulsive detour into India was stopped short when he was denied a visa application. He never thought this denial would remain on the record decades later when his job gave him a chance to travel to India, so when he applied for that visa again, he was stunned to get another denial. Did they really still have a record of his failed attempt to “travel the hippie trail backward” all those years ago? Apparently not because this time, the denial was only because of a slight technicality with how he listed his middle name. He was happily cleared for travel soon after.

Alderman Nik Kovac treated us to a story that started with searching for books on the Lenape Indian tribe at the Milwaukee Public Library to use on his radio show for their correlation to the Green Bay Packers/New York Giants rivalry, and ends with reflections on how the ritualized, organized violence of professional football affects the likelihood of war.

Lisa Erin Brown’s story starts with her escape from a trailer in California, where an internship with a medical marijuana dispensary had gone woefully wrong. It was a stroke of divine luck that the patronizing sheriff who rescued her from the highway didn’t find the marijuana in her jeans when he searched her bag, but whoever changed the sanitary napkin boxes in the San Francisco Airport bathroom was sure in for a surprise. So was Erin, in fact, when the person who will be interviewing her for an internship was behind her in the audience at Lucille’s tonight – good thing this is all “off the record!”

“What do I do?!” Korey Connor frantically asked. His wife was in the throes of labor in their apartment and the baby that he hoped would wait for the paramedics was now on the floor. “Pick it up!” she screamed. They had a baby bag packed and were all ready to drive to the hospital, but Cory was now learning that some things in life just can’t wait. Korey’s account of how he fumbled his way through frantic nurse line and ambulance calls while his wife going into labor had us in hysterics. P.S. – it’s a girl!

Bob Murray was supposed to be in Chicago to propose to his girlfriend, but when she didn’t come because of a fight they had, Bob spent his evening in the windy city trying to hand wash his accidental shart stains out of his only pair of pants so he could go to a friend’s party. His attempts were unsuccessful, but the unusual stain made for a great ice-breaker at that party – and a hilarious off-the-record story!

In his senior year of college at North Carolina in 1969, the house Jim Winship shared with his roommates was the grooviest place to party on campus (but, according to the women, also had the worst bathroom). In fact, it became apparent Jim was enjoying 1969 a little too much when he played “Whiter Shade of Pale” so many times that his roommates had to beg him to turn OFF the record!

Our final storyteller, Aaron Frank, was in Rimini, Italy on assignment for his job with a motorcycle magazine. While hanging out at a brothel one night, his colleagues’ attempts to make a connection with a beautiful Italian Colombian woman led to them unwittingly being stuck with a high bar tab for all the drinks the lovely lady was receiving from other admiring bar patrons. Aaron came to the rescue that night, and shortly he got back to the U.S., he received a check in the mail – an off the record payment thanking him for his, *ahem*, “editorial submission”.

While we anxiously awaited for the votes to be tallied, our special guest storyteller Jessie Garcia went behind the scenes and off the record to regale us with some delightful anecdotes she picked up during her years covering Green Bay Packers football for TMJ4. She’s seen the referee punching bag and smoothie machine in Mike McCarthy’s office and talked to Brett Favre about potty-training toddlers. She’s also slept on the floor of her sports office when she and her husband were new to Milwaukee and had no air conditioning on a 105 degree night, and she’s interviewed Tiger Woods at the PGA Championships after being up all night with a sick son in a hotel room. But one of her funniest moments was interviewing a coach and asking him if a certain player of his was on the “hot seat”: after struggling for the right words, the coach had to stop the camera to tell her, off the record, that this player was “so far on the ‘hot seat’ his ass is bright red!” (He went back on the record to give a much more professional answer!)

Nine unforgettable stories made for a tough decision, but new father and first-time Ex Fabula storyteller Korey Connor took the audience favorite crown this time, which means we’ll be hearing from him again at May’s All Stars show.

Once again we want to thank our sponsors for making it possible to do what we do, the lovely Leah Delaney for a great job as MC, and all of our audience members who volunteered their hilarious and shocking “off the record” UltraShorts.

A special shout-out to our wonderful volunteers, storytellers, Ex Fabula members, and audience for making “Off the Record” a show to remember.

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See you next month, story fans!