Cringe Binge 

A post-Valentine’s Day show of awkward sexual moments comes to the Firehouse.

click to enlarge Natalie Wall, creator and host of the live touring show “Awkward Sex … and the City,” which comes to the Firehouse Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 16 for one night only.

Natalie Wall, creator and host of the live touring show “Awkward Sex … and the City,” which comes to the Firehouse Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 16 for one night only.

A variety of different things can make a sex story funny.

The range is wide and the situations cringeworthy. Was there an unpleasant bodily function? Weird verbal interaction? Blood? Your first time? Maybe your first time with a new partner(s)? Queefing?

Basically, anything that surprises you or was unexpected qualifies as awkward sex.

So says Natalie Wall, the creator and host of the live touring show “Awkward Sex … and the City,” coming to Firehouse Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 16 for a post-Valentine’s Day romp. The goal is to take taboo subjects, from cocaine-infused, one-night stands to irritable bowel syndrome flair-ups during cunnilingus, and create a safe space for people to feel seen and heard about their own awkward experiences.

Originally from Stafford, Wall attended James Madison University and then moved back home where she started a blog where she could journal her thoughts on 21st century sexual mores. Fueled by a teenage diet of the TV show “Sex and the City,” she moved a year later to New York City looking for the kind of adventure the show’s characters had. That's when she began exploring the possibility of a live show, eventually landing at the People’s Improv Theatre as part of an all-women lineup. Talking about awkward sex quickly proved to be popular and the show got a recurring slot.

“People gravitated to the topic,” Wall recalls with a laugh. “I’d ask people to tell a story and they would. After a year, we did our first tour, starting in D.C. and then Richmond.”

“Awkward Sex…and the City” has a rotating cast of stand-up comedians that includes Wall, fellow New Yorker Calvin Cato and two other comedians she’s keeping under wraps until the big night. Each gets a 25-minute slot, a length of time chosen to give them room to breathe without rushing a story. “The cool thing is our audiences know what they’re getting into when they buy a ticket,” she explains. “So they’re ripe and ready to go the moment we walk on the stage, which isn’t always the case in comedy.”

Another difference from your typical comedy show is the absence of heckling and walkouts, neither of which has happened in eight years of touring the show. The only bad review the show has ever gotten was when they played the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh University sent two very young students to cover the show. “They gave us a half of a star out of five,” Wall chortles. “These were 19-year-olds who hadn’t experienced any of this and they couldn’t even look at us afterward they were so uncomfortable.”

Showcasing comedians with hilarious awkward sex stories guarantees relatable material for the audience. Wall pulls from a half dozen embarrassing tales from her own past, rotating them as they tour. When the show played the Black Cat in D.C., it was an easy drive for friends and extended family to see her in action in front of an audience of 350 people. “Which meant that as I told the story of how I had diarrhea during my first sex with a guy, I was sharing those details with close family members like my aunt and uncle," she says. "They were mortified yet very supportive.” It probably helped that the guy involved is now her husband.

Wall says that one thing that comes out of these shows besides raucous laughter is that audience members often feel better about themselves and their own embarrassing moments. Frequently, they come up to the comedians after the show and want to share their own stories or say they were reminded of their own mortifying moment. “It can be very cathartic for people,” she says. “Growing up in Virginia without the best sex ed, we didn’t have the vocabulary that we do now. And we sure didn’t talk to friends that way.”

These days, Wall’s goal with the show is to provide low entertainment by getting gross and making people feel good.

“There’s really no such thing as awkward sex,” she insists. “If you like it and it’s not illegal, enjoy it. The goal is just to be as open as possible.”

“Awkward Sex…and the City,” is held on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St., https://www.eventbrite.com/e/awkward-sex-and-the-city-tickets-441630206837



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