Entertainment, On A High Note

It’s “That Time of the Month” for Nashville’s storytelling scene

Everyone has a story – or three – to tell, and Nashville now has a number of opportunities for people to tell their true and often funny, sometimes poignant stories. That Time of the Month, a funny female storytelling event that features one token male, is one of the city’s most popular examples. Sports & Entertainment Nashville recently talked with Christopher Pilny, co-producer of That Time of the Month (TTOTM), about the show and his involvement.

The cast of TTOTM's "Overindulgence" show in April 2016. From left to right: John Lavey, Madeleine Hicks, Rachel Gladstone, Gary Jenkins, Autumn Jones, Christy James, Carissa Stolting, Kara McLeland, Christopher Pilny. PHOTO COURTESY OF TTOTM

The cast of TTOTM’s “Overindulgence” show in April 2016. From left to right: John Lavey, Madeleine Hicks, Rachel Gladstone, Gary Jenkins, Autumn Jones, Christy James, Carissa Stolting, Kara McLeland, Christopher Pilny. PHOTO COURTESY OF TTOTM

S&E: How long has TTOTM been in Nashville? How did the event move into its current home at Zanies?

CP: That Time of the Month showed up in Nashville in April of 2012. Melanie Vare, the show’s creator, brought it with her when she moved here from Los Angeles. We began at Bongo Java After Hours Theatre, then moved to Cafe Coco for a few years, before doing a short stint at the Tin Cup and finally ending up at Zanies. It was a huge rush when they said, “Yes, bring the show here.” It felt like we’d finally made it.

S&E: The theme for the next show is “middle school.” How did you come about choosing the topic?

CP: “Middle school” happened because Autumn Jones, Christy James and I (the three producers of TTOTM) were talking about something that’d happened to Christy’s son, who is in middle school. This led me to talk about how I’d once cast a love spell on a girl using an apple, and how it understandably made me the “weird guy” in middle school, and we all said, “Hey, middle school sucked for everyone. We need to do a show about that.”

S&E: What themes have you had in the past?

CP: We’ve done a lot of themes: Prom, overindulgence, boys will be boys. You’re always trying to think of something new, even though everything’s been done before. I honestly have no idea how This American Life has done it so long.

S&E: What are some memorable TTOTM moments?

CP: I think for me, one of the best shows we’ve ever done was this past summer at Parnassus [Books]. I’ve been trying for two years to get them to let us host TTOTM there and finally they let us do it. In my mind, I kept having these romantic daydreams of “Ann Patchett is going to be there, sitting front row and smiling,” then thinking, “Oh come on, she has far better things to do on her Sunday afternoons.” But sure enough, there she was: Front row, with her mom. Smiling. You don’t get to do that every day.

S&E: How did your stint as a Victoria’s Secret employee lead to your becoming a regular at TTOTM and other shows in town?

Christopher Pilny reads at TTOTM's "Literary Influences" show at Parnassus Books, July 2016. Seated far right is author Ann Patchett. PHOTO COURTESY OF TTOTM

Christopher Pilny reads at TTOTM’s “Literary Influences” show at Parnassus Books, July 2016. Seated far right is author Ann Patchett. PHOTO COURTESY OF TTOTM

CP: I took the job at Victoria’s Secret to study girls and kept a journal the entire time of strange/interesting things I observed. Almost immediately I realized I had great writing material at hand, so I began working on essays about it. I remember asking my therapist at the time (which you need after selling thongs for a year), who was a poet, if she knew of any places I could read my material like David Sedaris. She said she didn’t, but I kept thinking, “I need somewhere I can read my material.” This became like a mantra for me for six months, until I walked into Bongo Java one day and saw this banner about That Time of the Month: Funny Female Storytelling.

It was perfect—as long as they allowed guys. I nearly sprinted home to look it up on Facebook, and when I did, I found Melanie’s contact info and I very rabidly wrote her an email saying I was a writer who wanted to perform some humorous material about working at Victoria’s Secret . . . foaming at the mouth. Thankfully, she allowed one “token guy” per show, and I was the first to grace her stage in Nashville. That was May 2012. I basically weaseled my way into reading in her Aug. 2012 show; then she asked me to host/produce an all guys version of the show for Sept. 2012, which I did gladly. Then I joined the podcast a few months later, and she asked me to be a co-producer. I’ve never looked back.

Everyone makes fun of The Secret and the power of positive thinking, including me. But I largely credit that mantra, “I need somewhere I can read my material,” with making it all happen. It was like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter. I kept walking by Bongo Java each day, thinking about it, and boom – one day it appeared.

Anything else you’d like to add?

CP: I’d like to give a big shout out to Tenx9 Nashville, True Stories: NSFW, Life Out Loud and East Side Storytellin’ for helping make storytelling such a force in town. If anyone is interested in writing for the show, email TimeOfMonth@gmail.com, or like us on Facebook and send us a message.

(Here is Christopher Pilny’s performance of “Memoirs of a Panty Slinger, or Rebel without a Bra”.)

That Time of the Month: Middle School takes place at Zanies on Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m.