The Importance of Risk(!)

Image credit: Risk Show


‘Hello, kids.’

Have you ever read a book, watched a film or TV show, listened to a podcast, and wondered just why there’s so much euphemism or outright elision in our stories?

The reasons are many, and many of them perfectly reasonable – the storyteller’s prerogative and right. No, your thousand page book doesn’t require mention of sex, or drugs, if you deem such details unnecessary to the story. Though keep in mind it’s implicit in any tale you weave/recall when the tale includes, for example, parents or a couple generally (unless stated their relationship is an abstinent one) or the time most of your skin was at blossom with third-degree burns and you don’t remember the fight in your hospital room between the girl you’d been seeing and really liked and who really liked you and your neighbour who’d decided one fine May eve to remove his lawn weeds with fire, – because you were sedated.

No, your story didn’t need those things. It might even have been better without them, for many reasons and on many bases. Not everything is appropriate or necessary everywhere. But have you ever wondered what all our collective glazes and skates and skips add up to? Well, perhaps an episode or two of Risk! True Tales Boldly Told will show you how and why (and when) it’s actually a negative, or euphemized, a vacancy. A missing.

It’s not just aesthetics. Sex and drugs and bodily everything’s of every variety are not the extent of our discomforts in life and in weaves/recalls. Death kind of sucks. As does misery and cruelty, and prejudice and intolerance, and time, sometimes, not all of the time, but a lot of the time. Risk! diverges in precisely these territories from many other storytelling podcasts (all?) in its willingness to confront the nitty gritty, teary, slippery or messy, uncomfortable, searing.

This is not to say the storytellers it hosts are made to push for these details whenever possible; rather, there is no apparatus of censure for when the person feels it necessary, or more honest, to have them. And one lesson I’ve learned again and again from the show is how the littlest detail, what may ordinarily and elsewhere be skirted by design either conscious or unconscious, can be the story. What we don’t say, we say, just not the same.

Forget what makes it different for a moment, though. ‘Different’ isn’t the only adjective befitting the best art. Risk! is entertaining, funny, sad, – it horrifies, disturbs, haunts. It’s beautiful, and true, which the truth always is, even when it isn’t, for being what it is.

Are all of the stories amazing in any or all these ways? Not for me, no. But a lot of them are. More than I’d have ever guessed beforehand. The rest are just a good use of your time.

Take a risk and try it, for fuck’s sake. If not your own.

(And if you’re appreciative, donate.)