An interview with storyteller Cecily Chapman

Cecily Chapman is a stand-up comedian based in Philadelphia. On her Facebook page she writes: Cecily Alexandria often finds herself asking "why do people say this stuff to me, how did I get here, what the world, and is it just me or is this funeral hilarious?" Take some time and laugh its sometimes better than crying except at church (no always at church). If you're in my area or if I'm in yours you should come out and see me perform.

You can see Cecily perform at this Wednesday's Tell Me A Story: Fight or Flight at Shot Tower Coffee. I asked Cecily a few questions in preparation for the show. Enjoy!

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1. I know you are a stand-up comedian, in addition to a storyteller. How do you differentiate the two when approaching your material?

I see them as going hand in hand.  My stand up style is generally based on my life experiences with a punchline.  Storytelling for me is my life a little more natural and truthful and allowing the funny to be where it is. Often audience members pick up something funny in places that resonate with their own experiences.  I enjoy both styles because they offer different experience to different audiences. 

2. What is most rewarding about telling a story in front of an audience?

The most rewarding thing about telling my story in front of an audience is, the connection.  Outside of performing I'm a quieter person often feeling overshadowed in certain settings, but when I'm in front of an audience you have to hear what I'm saying (unless you're taking calls during the show, which is more than frowned upon).  In that time being in front of people I feel the connection.  Its just fun to know people are relating to what you're saying.

3. My favorite types of stories are: 

I listen to Snap Judgement from NPR the first day I come in to work every week.  It gives me time to settle in to the simple task I have to take care of that day and sometimes gives a certain kind of energy to my day and purpose.  I enjoy live shows as well because most entertainment is better live to be because you can hear, see, and experience something with others.

4. How do you determine which life experiences to craft into a story for an audience?

 Most of my stories I make sure I'm far removed from the feelings concerning the events I'm talking about.  Hind sight feelings don't feel like you're bearing your soul where as current ones are also untamed.  Sometimes I think I feel a certain way until I'm talking about it and then I'm crying or realizing how silly but when its in the past or somehow I've come to a more finalized emotional conclusion I'm more capable of allowing the story to just happen instead of holding back so much.  

Thanks Cecily! You can follow her on Twitter -- @cecilythegreat