Kathy Collins – Comedian as Storyteller – Storytelling as Comedy.


Press Play to hear Kathy Collins speak on being a Comedian who tells stories and being a storyteller who uses comedy on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf

Press Play to hear Kathy Collins speak on being a Comedian who tells stories and being a storyteller who uses comedy on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.

Kathy Collins as Tita

Although I began storytelling as a teenage in high school forensics competitions, I have always felt like an imposter among “real” tellers. I consider myself an actress, one who memorizes lines and portrays characters, as opposed to a wise and wonderful wordsmith. Over years of performing, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with straying from the script and improvising, but it still seemed more like acting than telling. On Maui, I have a greater reputation as a comedienne than a storyteller.

Then I was blessed with the chance to perform this summer at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Project, where I was billed as one of several poets in the La Casita Festival. Talk about feeling out of my league… now I’m a phony poet too? It seems to me that all poets are storytellers, but not all storytellers are poets. Or are they/we?

Fortunately, this summer I also attended a storytelling festival in Canada’s Northwest Territories. At a tellers’ workshop there, I was surprised to hear the chief executive of a performing arts center mention Bill Cosby as his favorite storyteller. He went on to say that he thinks stand-up comics are the tellers of our time.

I felt liberated after that workshop. I no longer feel out of place among storytellers. Once in a while, either my alter ego Tita or I will perform a serious or poignant tale. But mostly, I now see myself as a storyteller who also happens to do stand-up and theatre. I am grateful for the privilege of getting to do what I love and love what I do for a living.

Katy Collins

More on Kathy Collins:

Maui actress/storyteller/comedienne/dancer/radio personality Kathy Collins has been performing on stage since she was 13 and began her broadcasting career at 17. Raised on Maui, her pidgin-speaking alter ego, “Tita”, is a fixture at Oahu’s annual Talk Story Festival and a regular columnist for Maui No Ka Oi Magazine. Her first CD release, “Tita Out”, won the 2005 Hawaii Music Award for Comedy Album of the Year.

Collins performs frequently at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, where she recently presented Kathy Collins’ Death Comedy Jam, an irreverent and poignant look at death and widowhood written after the death of her husband, Barry Shannon, with whom she co-founded non-commercial Mana’o Radio (91.5FM). Other recent performances include playing Bloody Mary in MAPA’s production of “South Pacific”, telling Pele stories in New York City at the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors Project, and a featured role in the full-length movie “Get a Jab” (premiering at the Hawaii International Film Festival in October 2010).

Tita Arms - Kathy Collins

For more information on Kathy Collins check out her Radio Station in Hawaii – http://manaoradio.com

Or feel free to watch this video of Kathy Collins performance..

8 Comments

  • By Ruth, November 1, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    As I listened to this show, the description “humorist” came to mind while you were discussing how to describe storytellers who incorporate comedy into their performances.

    “Humorist” could describe someone who recognizes and tells about life’s funny events without the connotations that would come from being called a comedian.

  • By Brother Wolf, November 2, 2010 @ 12:34 am

    Humorist – for me – is to dry and does not convey the pure energy I feel watching Kathy or should I say Tita perform. I think of Mark Twain who had a controlled energy that Kathy blows away. Having said that – your right – humorist is a good way of describing what Kathy does… I think of humorist as being a word that my grandmother would have used and now does not fit into our 21 st century language…

  • By Lillian Rodrigues-Pang, December 8, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

    Humorist – bit academic for me too. Comic storyteller is probably the closest thing. Although maybe as storytellers we need to get comfortable with taking on other titles as well. After all singer songwriters are often described as storytellers – directors/movie makers/script writers are described as storytellers and I have often read the profile of comedians with the description “brillant storytelling…”

    Over the past two years I have been performing comic stories in cabaret and adult only venues around Sydney. I have always found the marketing the hardest part. When the audience is there its enjoyed and understood. But trying to pull an audience in for something called storytelling is very very hard work and not always successful.

  • By Brother Wolf, December 14, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    I would suggest keeping the word storytelling for when they walk in the Door – There are many ways to describe the work you do that will draw an audience – Theatrical Experience – a one woman show – good theater reviews – word of mouth… A damn fine show… etc…

  • By Norah, June 19, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

    Great show – as always. Wonderfully engaging stories and storytelling by Kathy Collins.

    And I really enjoyed hearing you both struggle with and kick around the definitions.

  • By Tom Hennessey, November 2, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

    Hey kathy,
    Just wanted to say Mahalo.. I enjoy reading your column in da Maui News every Monday morning.
    Maybe someday I’ll see you in action with your story telling.
    Again Mahalo, Tom..

  • By Lori Gomez, March 18, 2014 @ 8:55 pm

    Aloha, Kathy, This is your old Lihikai English Teacher! Love your work and how you have developed as a storyteller, an art that is soon lost if not for educators like you! Was wondering if you would MC our Celebrate Reading-Maui on April 12, 2014 at UH-MC. We would love to have you! Let me know by emailing me or calling Lahainaluna High School. Take care…

Other Links to this Post

  1. This Tuesday, Oct. 16: Tita Tells Spooky Stories at Kihei Public Library | mauivents.com — October 10, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

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