The popular live comedy event “Don’t Tell My Mother!” is releasing a one-of-a-kind pride show online.
The show was created by Nikki Levy, a Park Slope native who knew that she wanted to work in entertainment from the time she was a kid. A Northwestern University grad, Levy got her start working for the Oxygen Network in their digital program. Eventually, she moved out to Los Angeles and had to start over.
“In, LA, they don’t care if you’re a producer. They think you won’t do the grunt work,” said Levy. “I chose the development route and eventually became a development executive and started developing comedies.”
It was during her time in development that Levy started to miss telling real people’s stories. She drew inspiration for “Don’t Tell My Mother!” from her own experiences growing up with her mother in New York. During each show, Levy and her guests recount stories that may be embarrassing or, as the title suggests, something that they wouldn’t necessarily want their mother to know happened.
“My mother always wanted me to tell her everything, but later I learned that it’s okay to keep secrets,” said Levy. “My mother would later ask me, ‘Why don’t you tell me everything and pretend that you didn’t?’ People have great stories, and the cool thing about performers is that they can make any story interesting.”
“I used my experience in development to get the idea going, to find the story that we wanted to tell on stage,” Levy added. “When we get to tell these stories that were embarrassing, those are the coolest stories. We can find the comedy in it, and then we get to own our stories. It’s really freeing for both sides.”
The latest “Don’t Tell My Mother!” special is called “Coming Out Party: A Pride Celebration.” The show, which will be released as an Audible Original, will be co-hosted by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “A Star is Born” star Shangela and will feature stories from Angelica Ross (“POSE”), Rosanny Zayas (“The L Word: Generation Q”), Jake Borelli (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Daniel Rugg Web (“Unprotected Sets”), Nicky Paris (“The Wendy Williams Show”) and Lisa Dickey (“Bears in the Streets”). Normally the special is recorded live, however due to coronavirus only half of the guests were recorded live and the rest were recorded from home.
This is not the first Pride-related special with Audible. Her first special “The Path to Pride with Lance Bass and Nikki Levy” was released in 2018 to rave reviews, and her follow up “You Do You: Proud to Be Fabulous” was co-hosted by “Queer Eye” star Tan France and widely released as an Audible Original. Every “Don’t Tell My Mother!” live show benefits a different non-profit including The Los Angeles LGBT Center, The Trevor Project and Planned Parenthood to name a few.
As an out lesbian herself, Levy thought it was really important for members of the queer community to tell their stories in these specials, especially in the newest one.
“Queer people are natural-born storytellers. In my own experience, I’ve found that queer people are alchemists, they can turn pain into gold. We get to own that now, and there’s tremendous power in that,” said Levy. “Jake Borelli talks about his character on “Grey’s Anatomy” and how that led to him coming out. Angelica Ross talks about going against the US Navy and being discharged because of don’t ask, don’t tell. This special has funny stories and very poignant stories.”
Levy hopes that this special can be a bright spot in someone’s day during Pride Month.
“Pride is not the same this year, but Pride is not canceled,” said Levy. “I hope we get to contribute to the community and bring some joy and celebrate ourselves.”
The “Coming Out Party: A Pride Celebration” will premiere on Audible on June 4 at audible.com/comingoutparty. The special is free for Audible members.