VIDEO - The Sklar Bros with Chris Denman & Travis Terrell - We Are Live!

Thanks to the good folks at Gaslight Lounge and Media Outlaws, we've got video coverage from the conversation with The Sklar Bros. Enjoy! So much Hollywood insight, stand up comedy advice, nature of the business, and so much more. 

Dylan Palladino, "He's in town from New York."

Dylan Palladino, "He's in town from New York."

Dylan Palladino experienced a lot from the STL comedy scene on his trip in from NYC. A WWE style feud, German beer, fried chicken, and lots of love. 

Target Practice Live! A summary of the live roast tourney, also... someone ruined comedy.

Target Practice Live! A summary of the live roast tourney, also... someone ruined comedy.

Target Practice Live was a 2 night event with 2 Champions, 1 WWE Style feud, and lots of happy attendees. It featured head to head roasts, where'd you go to high school commentary, and even the time honored comedy classics like roasting Sacagawea, JFK, and Ghandi. 

Interview: Campfire creator Steven Harowitz

If someone walked up to you in the street and asked you to get on a stage in front of strangers and tell your story, what would you say?

Campfire aims to bring interesting people with unique stories and project their tales onto others with the hopes of creating something amazing. You can find their action at the St. Louis Public Library, where they combine improvisational skills with their pasts and purge their demons in the hope of connection. 

Director and Creator of Campfire Steven Harowitz is the bold soul who organizes and runs this community organization. He brings the lonely souls together, gives them the tools to be brave, and has helped many people find something in themselves that may have stayed hidden if it weren't for the right navigator and coach. 

I spoke with Steven about Campfire's endeavors and hopes on Friday. Here is what transpired.

Buffa: How did Campfire get started?

Harowitz: We did a test run during St. Louis design week during October of last year. We wanted to do something where we brought components of people's lives and connected the storyteller to the audience. We took a pause from it for a while afterwards. Some life stuff happened. I then wanted to play with the concept again and the St. Louis Public Library reached out to collaborate. We did it the way I'd always dreamed it would be.

Buffa: Rafe Williams is a comic on the rise in St. Louis and one of your coaches at Campfire. What makes him an asset to your team? 

Harowitz: He's a stellar presence and a good person. You want people who are going to be great team members. He has a ton of experience and knows the technical skills it takes to be on stage. He's got a good blend of being a good human also what it takes to be on stage. 

Buffa: What do you expect to gain from this long term?

Harowitz: I'm one of those people who is very future thinking but with this I have tried my hardest to turn that off and just enjoy it. Let it grow as it might. There's still things we can do to bring it more to life. Workshops and sharing it with the community. Honestly, I don't know and I kind of love that.

Buffa: I spoke with Bronwyn Ritchie and she told me Campfire was similar to theater because it was cathartic. 

Harowitz: They are supposed to feel whatever the story wanted to make them feel. With each storyteller, we chose one main statement. For Bronwyn, it was how to build a home. I want the audience to find themselves through someone's narrative. Everybody takes it differently because we don't force a perspective. Everything has a falling action and there are no answers.

Buffa: If you are on the street and trying to sell this to them, how do you get them in the door?

Harowitz: It's hard to explain. That is something the team is really working on. How to explain it. A storyteller's friend told us that it defies definition. It's like a church without the religion. A tech spot without data. We are figuring it out as we go. 

Buffa: Is it engineered towards a 62 year old man or towards the younger crowd?

Harowitz: It started out as something targeted towards the millennial crowd, but it's become something that anybody can come to. If you boil it down past details, it's the same struggles. These people are regular people and not trained speakers. They are the people in the car next to you at a stop light. While we have a target audience that we like, at the same time things cross generational boundaries. 

Buffa: When I saw the Facebook page, I saw something that reminds me of improv as well as what actors define as "method" approaches. 

Harowitz: Team members have backgrounds in improv. The vague discipline that we've blended together was journalism on the front, wrap in production, and then we put in some of the improv pieces as well. It also becomes guest services. We blend a lot of random stuff into this thing. 

Buffa: What's one of the memorable stories you've heard?

Harowitz: It's hard to pick one. I'll pick one from the original story. The first time we ever test ran the event. A story about name and identity. A story from Cintas. Someone saw the speaker's name, which was Keisha Mabry, and made a huge snap judgement. They immediately asked her how many kids she had and are you on welfare? If you know this person, that is her name. You make snap judgements and they have no idea. That name was given to her. 

Buffa: St. Louis is going through a harsh phase with all the violence and turmoil. Is Campfire something that can balance it out and give people an escape?

Harowitz: Hopefully. When folks have seen it, they say that it can be something that works towards creative change. If you give people an hour to make the best version of themselves, I think you can help people change from an individual level. That can maybe spurn more change. You can help on an individual level and hope it grows. 

Steven Harowitz is trying to change the world, one person at a time and it's working. Speaking to Bronwyn Ritchie a couple days before my chat with Steven, one could tell she was enlightened and bolstered by a newfound purpose. Something that she may have found on the stage downtown at Campfire. An organization that tries to mend the broken wings of people with a story to tell but no place to purge. 

Keep an eye on Campfire by liking their Facebook page and reaching out to connect with its creators and members. Some things are slow moving yet change lives one soul at a time. Campfire is trying to do something incredible and the more people who know about it, the faster those baby steps become a steady strut towards positive outcomes.

Interview: Campfire Speaker Bronwyn Ritchie

Bronwyn Ritchie is just like you. She is a vulnerable yet talented human being with a story to tell. Campfire, a community organization in downtown St. Louis that treats the Public Library like a confessional, gave her that opportunity. 

Getting up in front of people on a stage and talking about yourself is a form of therapy, but for Bronwyn Ritchie, it was more of a purge. She hasn't had an easy life, and grew up this "awkward genius", but couldn't find the platform to properly tell her story before she found this community.

Campfire is designed to do two things. Bring different types of people together through their stories and create not just one line of communication, but various links that can spread around the entire city. 

I spoke to Ritchie this week about her experiences, conquering the fear of public speech, and what Campfire can do for all the wandering souls out there who need to get a few things off their chest. 

Buffa: Tell me about Campfire. What does it mean to you?

Ritchie: It's an immersive storytelling experience. The goal is to take people who don't normally do these things a chance to share their experiences. Having a larger conversation instead of someone talking at you. They try and do stuff with music and touch. 

Buffa: You were one of the storytellers. 

Ritchie: I just told a story. I'm a nobody. I was the season finale. The fourth person to do it, all time. I got an email that said, "Do you want to tell a story? You don't have to be good at it." They let me get on a stage for an hour. 

Buffa: What is the allure of a live Campfire event?

Ritchie: There wasn't a dry eye in the house. If you want to feel the feels, it draws the feels out of you. Plus, it's for free. We sat down for an hour while I rambled for my life. They record it and look for a theme. For me, it was home. We then work on for two weeks, and build the spine of the story. They coach you. 

Buffa: They take a person and basically direct them. You are the script. 

Ritchie: They direct you about your life story. Your car crash wasn't sad enough. Make it worse. 

Buffa: What do you gain from something like this?

Ritchie: I've gotten several date offers out of it. Somebody hears your entire life story and wants to get a cocktail with you. Otherwise, there's no agenda behind it. It's been a really intense process. Being on a stage has made me reevaluate my entire life. There's been a positive growth in my life due to this experience. 

Buffa: How many times did you want to run off the stage?

Ritchie: Frequently. The people who work on the project are dudes, so I didn't want to cry. There's some pretty emotional stuff in my story. The day of, I didn't even want to leave the house. Someone called me and kind of helped me get there. 

Buffa: Rafe Williams is a coach there. How was it leaning from him?

Ritchie: Super fantastic. He knows his stuff. He gives good feedback. He means it. If there is a suggestion, you should take it. He's very funny. He told me about points in my story where I could tell jokes. I actually told my own jokes and he was proud of me. He's impressive. 

Buffa: Do you think this kind of upstart thing can truly help people? Is it an escape or more of a rebirth?

Ritchie: For audience members, it's more of a rebirth. The thing about St. Louis is that it's a segregated town. People in Dogtown only want to go to bars in Dogtown, for example. You put them in a room in downtown St. Louis, and there's a lot of renewed hope. It's this really unique thing that Steven(the creator) has done. Very positive for folks.

Buffa: What's some of the saddest stories you've heard?

Ritchie: I've never been to any of them before my own speaker session, so anything I say is going to be about my life. I skipped the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grade. I ran my car into a telephone pole at 80 mph, and flipped it 97 yards. Then, my whole life got better. I was an awkward smart kid, so it wasn't easy. That's pretty crazy, right?


Buffa: If I'm a 62 year old man, does this appeal to me or is it mostly for younger people?

Ritchie: Steven told me it was something for millennials made by millennials since the library is trying to reach the millennial crowd. 

Buffa: You need to sell Campfire to a stranger on the street. What do you tell them?

Ritchie: The original point of theater was catharsis for the audience. An escape and place to release. That is exactly what Campfire is. If you are sad and lonely, you can come be sad and lonely with others. 

What you see with Bronwyn is what you get. She wears her vulnerability like a shield covering her innocence but through Campfire was willing to lower her guard and help others with her stories. 

Think about the places you go to for escape. The movies. A concert. The bar. All those things cost you and never really help. Campfire is free and real, and it heals. Give it a shot and you may meet another Bronwyn Ritchie.