Trying to get a laugh out of someone during these dire economic times can sometimes seem like a Herculean feat?like walking through Lincoln Square and not bumping into one of those SUV-edition baby strollers. But the trick to telling a good joke is making it relatable to the audience. Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon do just that in Essay Fiesta, a nonfiction reading series that’s free and takes place at The Book Cellar (4736 N. Lincoln Ave.) every third Monday of the month.
This month?s Essay Fiesta takes place on April 19, which is also the event?s six-month anniversary. Ecker has said he came up with the idea of Essay Fiesta after being ?rejected from one of many auditions.? So in November 2009, he teamed up with Lyon to do something they both love?write.
Ecker is a huge fan of David Sedaris, the Grammy-nominated humorist, writer, comedian, bestselling author, and This American Life contributor who once said, ?I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.? Ecker and Lyon have a similar storytelling style as Sedaris: their first-person, nonfiction stories are somehow therapeutic for the reader, somehow therapeutic for the listener, and always delivered with a humorous bent.
?As I am standing [in front of an audience] sharing something I hold true, and I see a smile, I understand that my truth is shared?that I have made a connection,? Ecker said.
But Essay Fiesta isn?t just about entertainment. Ecker and Lyon also raise money for the Howard Brown Health Center through a raffle that includes various goodies from local businesses.
?It is not only people that are struggling today, but social and civic organizations are feeling the same pressures,? said Ecker.? ?And the more people that come, the more awareness we raise about Howard Brown.?