Review: Gather 'Round for "Story Time with Joey Rinaldi"

Story Time with Joey Rinaldi

Written and performed by Joey Rinaldi

Available to stream through May 9, 2020: Watch here

Cost: $5

Photo by Aliya Schneider
Storytelling and comedy suit the shift to streaming performances necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic particularly well. Enter comedian Joey Rinaldi's solo show Story Time with Joey Rinaldi. Rinaldi has created and performed two previous one-man shows—Potty Training, which played at The PIT in 2017, and Picture Everybody Naked, which played at The Kraine in 2019—and serves as creator of the YouTube comedy sketch channel Dirty Laundry Videos and co-creator and host of the underground pop-up comedy show The Manifest Show. He has appeared at an international selection of comedy and theater festivals and now brings Story Time with Joey Rinaldi, winner of Best Comedy at NYC's FRIGID Festival 2020, to your home. Says Rinaldi of Story Time, “I wanted to give audiences the chance to forget their own childhood traumas and focus on mine. I mean, what connects us better than collective misery? I want people to leave feeling exponentially better about their own upbringing.” Of course, "collective misery" has taken on a whole new meaning in the past few months, which makes Story Time's series of comically self-deprecating tales an enjoyable piece of escapism for a night in (which is all of them).
Photo by J.T. Anderson
Story Time, recorded in front of a pre-lockdown audience, runs about 45 minutes, over the course of which the engaging Rinaldi, with a mic on a bare stage, spins comedy from embarrassing past experiences and the kinds of poor decisions that all of us make in our formative years (though not all the stories draw on middle and high school; one is much more recent). There is a celebratory 4/20 brownie consumed at an inopportune time and some traumatic middle school daredevil game playing. In another story, teenaged Rinaldi Facebook-stalks a crush and takes a particular Ryan Gosling rom-com character as a model for impressing the opposite sex. Later, he recounts seeing a very different side of the doorman in his building once the doorman finds out that he does stand-up comedy. In all of this, he shows an eye for vivid, funny details, such as his mother asking him why he couldn't injure himself two weeks ago while she speeds him to the hospital. The show doesn't dwell on the serious side of any of these yarns, but it is intriguing to see those hints around the margins: one of funniest lines, for example, is a throwaway about his teacher giving him a ball to play with while others listen to the lesson, but that also gives a glimpse of wider picture of his experience of growing up.

That said, the emphasis is squarely on the humor, and Story Time is a funny show. Rinaldi exudes a winning energy and presence, and his delivery has an edge of agreeable self-awareness. If you are looking for some more laughter in your life right now (and who wouldn't want that?), pick your favorite streaming device and pull up a virtual seat: it's Story Time.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards

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