Storytelling, at its apex, is an art. It requires the philosophical contemplations, critical observations and the communicative dexterity of a writer, coupled with the intuition and instincts of a performer. It has existed from mankind’s earliest days, long before the first written word, as the primary narrative mode to disseminate ideas: communicating historical accounts, outlining philosophical theories, expressing ethical concerns, and challenging cultural norms.
Though much of my exposure to the social significance of storytelling originated with an elective class on folklore I explored at university, it wasn’t until my first trip abroad, to the United Kingdom, that I began to truly appreciate it as art. From cabbie to bartender, a newly minted acquaintances on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow or on a bus in Dublin, the wit and mirth of the oral tradition were on full display in all its grandeur.
In similar fashion, Isaac Oliver, the award-winning writer, performer and playwright, enlightened and entertained us one late Saturday evening at Joe’s Pub, a cozy dinner theater on Lafayette Street in the East Village. He was promoting his new novel, Intimacy Idiot, ostensibly a collection of personal essays detailing his experiences while searching for love and intimacy in New York City. He performed excerpts from his novel on stage, either alone or with actor Daniel Loeser, masterfully captivating his audience–an incredible feat considering attention spans endure for less than the amount of time it takes for a traffic light to turn–with tales so magnificently absurd they could only be true.
I’ve read reviews citing comparisons between Isaac Oliver and many renowned writers and performers. Only the comparison to a nascent David Sedaris rings true. In fact, if pressed for a concrete opinion on the matter, I would liken Oliver to the wit and showmanship of Sedaris and the candor and immediacy of William Burroughs (particularly with how he addresses sex and sexuality–indeed, he pulls no punches on that account). Opinions may vary, but there’s no doubt about his talent.
Isaac Oliver returns to Joe’s Pub in April and June. You can find additional information and buy tickets here.
425 Lafayette St
Pair it with:
Dinner and dessert at Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery
Famed chef and restaurateur Andrew Carmellini’s bistro in NoHo offers excellent, regional French cuisine as well as an in-house bakery helmed by rising star Pâtissière, Jen Yee. From hors d’oeuvres to mains, the meal exceeded expectations (particularly the mind-blowingly delicious wood-grilled local trout with autumn vegetable salad and saffron), but as we’ve come to expect (see our previous post), Jen Yee stole the show yet again with her incredible iteration of a classic: the cheesecake.
380 Lafayette Street
Monday-Saturday 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sundays 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm