On the eve of the 10th anniversary of The Stoop Storytelling Series, Baltimore's beloved stranger-than-fiction storytelling event, co-producers and co-hosts Jessica Henkin and Laura Wexler sat down to interview each other. Because the theme of The Stoop's anniversary show is "Awkward Adolescence," Henkin and Wexler brought their 13-year-old selves to the table.
Jessica Henkin: I get to ask you anything? Really? OK. How do you think you've grown as a person through The Stoop? (Laura rolls her eyes.) You can't judge. It's my question!
Laura Wexler: Ummm.
JH: OK. Try this. What's your favorite thing about doing The Stoop?
LW: That's easy. Scaring the shit out of people. In a nice way. Pushing people to be more honest, more vulnerable, more "themselves" than they thought they could be. Or should be.
JH: You like making people cry.
LW: A little. (Jessica rolls her eyes.) A lot.
JH: Another important question: How often are you recognized from The Stoop?
LW: Last night I was at a party and stopped to tell the chef the food was great and she said she was a big fan of The Stoop. That was cool. But the other day someone recognized me in a yoga class and that wasn't so great. I felt like the woman was thinking, "I sensed from seeing you onstage that you weren't flexible at all, and now my suspicions have been confirmed." What about you?
JH: Not often. These days, when I'm not at my (non-Stoop) day job, or onstage with Stoop, I'm unwashed and basically wearing pajamas. And since I always look so, so, SO beautiful onstage, people just can't compute.
LW: It's like seeing Boy George without his makeup on. You're like: whaaaa-?
JH: I don't think that's an accurate analogy.
LW: What have you learned about collaboration through doing The Stoop?
JH: How to own my shit and carve out my lane.
LW: Does that mean there's a lot of shit in your lane? If that's the case, I'll stay in my own lane.
JH: It means I've learned how to love being bossed around by you, knowing you're always going to grab my hand and take me where we need to go.
LW: How is your persona onstage different from your real-life personality?
JH: I'm more outgoing onstage than I am in real life. And more easygoing.
LW: So at the same time we're asking storytellers to bare their souls and be as honest as possible, you're onstage basically lying?
JH: I'm me, just better.
LW: People have compared us to a local version of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Which one are you?
JH: I look more like Amy Poehler but act more like Tina Fey. You look more like Tina Fey and act more like Amy Poehler. You have a Leslie Knope streak.
LW: So, I'm nicer?
JH: You are so much nicer. There's no question. I'm the darker one. Plus, you're happier since taking that year off and getting all that plastic surgery.
LW: Do you think I've gotten funnier as a host over these 10 years?
JH: Oh my goodness, yes. You've loosened up and are hilarious. Now, you shine like a diamond onstage, whereas, when we started, you were like a slightly dingy cubic zirconia.
LW: Am I funnier than you?
JH: Not yet, Grasshopper. But, you're getting there. You're getting there.
"The Stoop Turns 10!: Stories about the Awkward Adventures of Adolescence," a sold-out event featuring storytellers Larry Doyle, Ben Doyle, Asif Majid, Jeff Eline, Erin Mandras, Day Al-Mohamed, DDm, and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, will be held at The Senator Theatre on Feb. 10. For more information, visit stoopstorytelling.com.