The name of the game is shame.
A pair of comedians are melding a bar storytelling night with a bar game night at Union Hall in Park Slope on Jan. 2 with the Shame Game, in which comedians compete to tell the most shameful real-life story. But the real prize for contestants is the catharsis of talking about embarrassing experiences in public, said one organizer.
“What I’m interested in is people telling the truth on stage,” said Ginny Leise, founder and co-host of the Shame Game. “If you’re able to talk about a shameful story, you feel better and you also realize there are people in the audience with similar experiences.”
Contenders in the Shame Game must share a tale that involves acting shamefully or being ashamed. Their fellow contestants then get a chance to grill them about the experience, with the goal of exposing as many details as possible — and really rubbing in the shame as they go. When all the contestants have laid themselves bare, the audience votes on which tale was most sordid, and the lucky (or unlucky) storyteller wins the night.
The tales of woe are interspersed by skits and monologues, inspired by the real life experiences of Leise and her co-host Soojeong Son. In one show, the duo debated whether having bed bugs is worse than having herpes, then performed an interpretive dance fight between the two afflictions, Leise said. Herpes was the winner.
“With herpes, it happens maybe once and year, you know what’s going on, you shut it down for a week or two and then it’s gone,” said Leise. “But with bed bugs you spend thousands of dollars and you still might not kill all of them. It destroys your social life completely.”
Son and Leise have been running the Shame Game since May at venues in Manhattan, and the Union Hall show will be the first time it has taken place in Brooklyn. The show started as a weekly affair, although it has since been scaled back to once a month. But Son said she is not worried that they will run out of mortifying life experiences to drag through the mud in the name of entertainment.
“We’re not trying to create fodder for the show, but somehow strange things tend to happen to us,” she said. “Comedians and actors are extroverted people, so when we put ourselves out there we’re in for some odd experiences.”
The Jan. 2 show will see funny ladies Giulia Rozzi, Krystyna Hutchinson, Emma Willmann, and Sabrina Jalees battling it out to be crowned the Queen of Shame. The game is designed to expose the contestants to ridicule, but the show’s hosts said they are doing these friends a favor, too.
“The point is to process your s— on stage and have fun with it,” said Leise. “The show makes me feel incredibly unburdened.”
The Shame Game at Union Hall [702 Union St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 638–4400, www.unionhallny.com]. Jan. 2 at 8:30 pm. $10 ($8 in advance).