Reprise: Real Stories, Real Funny

The Tyler Loop and Truth in Comedy presented a night of storytelling and stand up comedy at Liberty Hall Saturday, June 25.

Three East Texans from The Tyler Loop’s Out of the Loop storytelling series paired with three stand up comedians to bring an inaugural show, Real Stories, Real Funny. The concept originated thanks to comedian Byron Stamps’ Truth in Comedy, an “emotional roller coaster [that’s] raw and beautiful, real and funny.”

True, personal stories invited the audience to engage with real and sometimes heavy subjects: racism and bigotry; setbacks in education; and anxiety during COVID’s first wave. Alternating each storyteller with comedians granted the audience levity and big laughs in between.

To relive the night — or in case you missed it — enjoy a reprise in photos.

Guests filed into Liberty Hall’s lobby, checking tickets and meeting friends.📷 all photos by Jamie Maldonado

Tyler’s T.J. Rankin riveted the audience with a story about his increasing anxiety symptoms as COVID-19’s first confirmed case reached Tyler. Comedian Byron Stamps took the stage after Rankin and explored his through-the-roof anxiety during a Father’s Day skydiving adventure.

The audience at Liberty Hall prepared for an evening of highs and lows, tears and laughter.

Lindale, Texas storyteller Abygayl Alvarez was met with wild applause after she recalled her journey from dropping out of the eighth grade to graduating with her master’s degree in public health from The University of Texas at Tyler last year. Comedian Latrice Wilkerson followed, recounting her not-so-dramatic high school graduation warring with her spouse over texts and emails.

A rapt audience at Liberty Hall vacillated between gravity and humor as the stories unfolded.

Originally from Palestine, Texas, Charles Parkes III took the stage, outlining his experience with racism and bigotry at his preschool and later, at his workplace. Parkes was followed by Trey Mack, who talked about learning “white people language.”

Real Stories, Real Funny curtain call left to right: The Tyler Loop director Jane Neal, T.J. Rankin, Trey Mack, Abygayl Alvarez, Charles Parkes III, Byron Stamps and Latrice Wilkerson.

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Jane Neal is the executive director of The Tyler Loop and storytelling director of Out of the Loop: True Stories about Tyler and East Texas. In addition to the Loop, she works at the Literacy Council of Tyler and attends Sam Houston State University remotely, where she studies sociology. Jane is a certified interfaith spiritual guide. She is a member of Leadership Tyler Class 33 and a former teacher of French at Robert E. Lee High School, where she ran a storytelling program called Senior Stories. Jane and her husband Don have four children.
An East Texas native, Jamie Maldonado has worked as a visual journalist and copy editor for the Longview News-Journal, The Denver Post and other publications. He is a professional photographer and creates YouTube content about film photography. Taking to heart Dorothea Lange’s quote, “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera,” Jamie has turned his lens on his hometown and its people to see it anew.