We sit down and speak with Dallas Comedy House's Storytelling student and part of the new "Gettin' It" cast Ellen Fultz. Ellen talks about how storytelling opened her up to the strength in vulnerability and guesses the backstory of a fellow coffee shop dweller. Along with storytelling, she can predict your future and foretells that in eight months I will encounter a "nice guy" who will creep his way into my facebook, heart and a seat at my thanksgiving dinner table. This message is for you blondie - if you can't eat jell-o with chopsticks, don't bother. Ellen, we wish you a lot of fun, laughter and frustrating transaction scenes in your upcoming Improv One class.
Meili: So you're part of the new "Gettin' It" show. What is that?
Ellen: "Gettin' it" is for people who have graduated out of the Storytelling level one class. We pick a theme for each month and, kind of like with improv, you take a word or two and run with it. Everybody splinters off based off that topic.
Meili: Are they typically humorous?
Ellen: That's what [instructors] Devon and Julia are so good at coaching at. Is finding the humor in a story. Some of the stories are hard stories, they’re emotional, vulnerable stories but you find the humor within. Storytelling is such a great vehicle to share experiences with people and be in the moment.
Meili: It seems more personal cause they're real people.
Ellen: Real people. Real stories.
Meili: I've been learning about scientists who are studying storytelling and how it makes people more empathetic, reading stories, watching fiction and non-fiction They talk about how it makes you relate to people. You’re kind of like a better person if you read more.
Ellen: (laughs) Sure, yeah additional perspective. Seeing something in a different light even though you might have experienced one side of the story and they experienced another. My favorite thing about it is when somebody gets on stage and says something out loud and admits this thing. This thing that you were too afraid to share and it's a powerful feeling. Like, I can’t believe they had the guts to say that. You get a lot of strength in. It's cathartic too.
Meili: You feel empowered
Meili: Terrible question...do you have any jokes?
Ellen: All my jokes are stories. The one that I have that my friends would be remiss if i didn’t say it, is as a kid i followed my older sister around. She went to a sleepover with her best friend and I tagged along. I got afraid, and so to her grandma Sue, I said I want to go home and she said "You can’t go home. Come lay in my bed with me." So we were head to toe, my head was at her feet. Well i start waking up and I forget where I am. And I think I’m laying next to my sister and I want to impress her. If I could just braid her hair with my feet, then she would love me. So I start braiding grandma Sue's hair with my feet.
Meili: Can you actually do that?
Ellen: No, it's not even a possible thing! (chuckles) So anyways, thats my claim to fame, braiding grandma Sue's hair with my feet. I never spent the night there again.
Meili: How would you say the class has affected your outside life?
Ellen: I was already extroverted. But it has made me much moreso. I’m a guarded extrovert. I’m working on my 4th or 5th show now, so if I’m constantly working on my vulnerability at home, writing it out all day. Then I’m constantly sharing and popping off ideas with everybody. It's helped me in relationships and in being vulnerable constantly.
Meili: I have a friend who likes to pick strangers and guess their story. Would you like to pick someone in this coffee shop and guess theirs?
Ellen: I like the lady back there with the scarf.
Meili: Ooh, yes. I remember her walking in….
Ellen: She's definitely from Brooklyn. She’s not enjoying being in Texas, because it's not Brooklyn. I mean her computer's made out of wood. She came here (Texas) looking for granola and she’s out of luck. It's only meat that we serve here.
Meili: Does she think climate change exists, with her macbook made out of trees?
Ellen: Yeah, exactly see. She’s a hypocrite.
Meili: (laughs) She's wearing a scarf.
Ellen: In the summer. Her weather app is still dedicated to Brooklyn. So she gets the wrong weather. I mean, but I’m wearing a sweater. (laughs)
Meili: We're all the same. Do you have anything you'd like to add about storytelling at DCH?
Ellen: I think the storytelling at DCH is picking up steam. DCH has already gone down the path of getting involved with an amazing community in Dallas. We are thestorytelling place for DFW.
Follow Gettin' It on Facebook @GettinItStories for information on upcoming shows.
Meili Chao is an improviser, stand-up comedian, and musician who lives in Denton with her cat, Miles Voldemort. She spends her spare time wearing off-the-shoulder tops in coffee shops "waiting to be discovered."