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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Spars

Funny Stories at Folktale Winery & Vineyards

On the balcony of the green room overlooking the stage.

They were all true stories, but there was definitely magic, which would have made the name Fairytale Winery more appropriate for the venue. Don Reed, Scott Sanders, Phil Griffiths, Samantha Gilweit, and, of course, host and MC, David Nihill kept the laughter as steady as the candlelight, which flickered and danced in every corner of the large cave. 

Scott told a funny but also touching story about his dog, Jake, whom, it turns out, everyone knows as the face of Purina throughout the 80s. Jake the dog launched on a trajectory for stardom that greatly surpassed his owner, putting his own career on hold and relegating Scott to the role of chauffeur and caregiver. Alas, a dog's life is too short, and, in a beautiful twist, Jake lives on in his namesake, Scott's son. 

Phil was next with his hilarious account of a massage given by the handsome Juan, who touched Phil like he has never been touched before. Interestingly, Juan touched Phil in the way that a very spicy meal might touch others, producing rips and bangs from Phil's intestinal tract. 

I followed with the story about the bus ride to Sumatra in which a young woman is attacked by a monkey. David has always wanted me to tell that one at one of his events, and I am not sure why it has taken so long. While on stage I wasn't sure whether the audience was finding it funny or whether the vomit, etc. was just disgusting them. The longer version of this story, which I was telling, features a crab claw stuck in the woman's veil like a question mark, "a symbol of all the uncertainty in that moment..." Ultimately, I hope that the story went over well, and that David was glad that I had told it. 

Samantha Gilweit followed me, treating the audience to two songs, interspersed with anecdotes, which reminded me of Sheila Kay Adams, whom I saw perform at the International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough. Her voice was beautiful, which formed an interesting contrast with her sarcastic and somewhat bawdy material. "That what you get for not wearing a condom in Eureka..." she sang. But it sounded like she was singing about beautiful mountains and flowers if you didn't listen to the words. 

We had two stories from the audience, which were very good. David has been working this more and more into his events, and it really reinforces the belief that everybody is a storyteller. A man told a story about a relationship in which he was made to feel terrible about himself. The woman constantly told him he was a bad lover, which made the story a very tragic version of Phil's monologue about marriage (when he went to get a massage with his wife it was to relieve each other of the stress they were causing each other). The man's story ended with him in a new relationship with a woman (who signed him up to tell) who thinks he is a fantastic lover. 

David and Don closed the show out. David had told anecdotes throughout the night so I can't remember which one served as his story. He enchants the audience with his accent and quick wit, and he is always able to bring the audience into his stories. Don made his dramatic entrance to the Space Odyssey soundtrack, and, from that point on, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He wove anecdotes beautifully together around his obsession with the number five, which is what he wrote on the wine barrel next to his name (the fifth barrel from the left, of course). Folktale winery has the tradition of having their performers sign a barrel!

David and I stood at a table next to stacks of our books, but while the audience members bought Folktale Winery shirts and water bottles, the only sale we made was a set of Live to Tell books... and that was to Scott! Thank you, Scott, for being my first public sale at a merchandise table. 

All in all I was so honored to have been included in this lineup. If we are lucky enough to have a next time, Irma and I will try to spend the night in the villa. It was absolutely beautiful with what I believe were hand-hewn floors. It was like being in a mission from the nineteenth century. We live in wine country, but we found this winery to be extraordinarily beautiful.

A Funny Thing Happened - A Night of World Class Storytelling at Folktale Winery & Vineyards, July 19, 2019


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