Experiencing former Teen Angst in comedic storytelling show

Photo by Kathryn Mussallem

By Jessie Hannah

If there’s one common thread that connects the human race, aside from love, it’s awkward teen experiences.

We all have at least one memory from our teen years that will pop up just when we think we’re getting the hang of adulting, reminding us that we were once a human sack of angst that could barely look another human in the eye.

The comedic storytelling show Teen Angst has become a safe space for these memories. Host and producer Sara Bynoe created Teen Angst in 2000. The show hosts performers, comedians and brave humans as they read from their teen journals, letters, essays, lists or songs. Consistent themes emerge: black, dark, sadness, death, love, hate and more black. It seems that as we were individually scribbling our torrid tales of woe and pain, we were in fact part of a collective human experience that is teen angst.

Loose Lips spoke to Sara Bynoe to find out a bit more about how the show began and where it’s going.

“We’re going back to 1999,” says Bynoe.  She explains that she had a boyfriend throughout high school. She and a friend were flipping through and reading horrible poems from this boyfriend. To be fair to him, she pulled out her own poetry book from when she was 13 and realized, “Oh… this is garbage.” This was pre-blogger era, but she had the idea to create a website where these formerly private, brooding writings could live in infamy.

“A place for the world to archive their horrible teen poetry,” Bynoe expands.

To announce it, she and her friends held an evening of storytelling.

“One of my friends laughed so hard, she literally peed herself,” laughs Bynoe, reminiscing. The show and website received media attention and grew from there, including years of shows at various venues and a book release in 2005.

We asked Bynoe what makes this show appealing. “The universality of the topic. It’s people getting up on stage and being vulnerable.” With humour as the intent, it allows the audience and the performers to enjoy the most awkward years of people’s lives.

Bynoe shared that, for her, the best part of the show is the performers.  The performers range from experienced performers to people who have never been onstage before. The audience responds well to people’s nervousness. She also notes participants gain from the storytelling: “[They gain the] confidence that they know they can share intimate details of themselves and people will accept them for that.”

A portion of the profit earned from each show supports charity.

Bynoe explained that even though the show has a thread of “unconscious similarities,” some readings still stand out for her. A male comedian recently performed his experience of learning to masturbate. There are still certain moments that are insights into the teen psyche that are as shocking as they are hilarious.

Teen Angst is always looking for new performers. You can reach out to Bynoe at sarabynoe.com/

The next Teen Angst takes place on Saturday, May 6 at 8 pm.  Tickets are $10 through Eventbrite and $15 at the door.

Jessie is an east coaster attempting to infiltrate west coast culture. Her plethora of disconnected thoughts is expressed most frequently in barely decipherable handwritten letters in which she writes of her fondness for olives, a quality old-fashioned, and B.C. wilderness.