“That’s What She Said” series of live storytelling events in Fayetteville create laughs from universal truths

That’s What She Said cast (L to R) Megan James, Leigh Wood, Ben Mannatt, Sunshine Broder, Jake Allen and Amber Forbus.

Courtesy photo

This is about a joke that got big in a hurry.

That’s What She Said.

And now this live storytelling stage show based in Fayetteville rages on.

That’s What She Said?

Yes, That’s What She Said, a young but already successful series of shows featuring local storytellers that has recently sold out a few performances in Fayetteville.

What: That’s What She Said Presents “Daddy Issues”
When: 6:30 p.m. June 23 and 5:30 p.m. June 26
Where: C4 Nightclub on June 23; Bordino’s Restaurant & Wine Bar on June 26
Cost: $15
Tickets: twshesaid.com

The group members are already looking forward to extending that growth. That’s What She Said is the brainchild of Amber Forbus and Leigh Wood. Forbus, who was raised in Fayetteville, moved to North Carolina about eight years ago. While living there, she discovered The Monti, a storyteller’s collective. She attended regularly, but never participated onstage.

“I was just amazed. They were normal people, telling stories,” she said. But they telling the most compelling stories – funny stories, enlightening stories, sometimes even depressing stories.

Upon her return to Fayetteville last summer, Forbus started looking for a similar offering in this community. She couldn’t find one. She discussed the idea with her friend Leigh Wood, membership director for KUAF Public Radio in Fayetteville. The talks soon progressed and the show sprang to life. That’s What She Said debuted in October. It takes its name from the oft-repeated double entendre-making joke popularized via “The Office” and inserted at the end of many an unsuspecting phrase. Removed from context, adding “That’s What She Said” to a line often makes it sound far more sexual than originally intended. The group members, while rehearsing for their first show, spent too much of their time trying to outdo the other members with a great “That’s What She Said” comeback.

When it got thrown out as an idea for a name, it just kinda stuck. That’s What She Said became the name in part because unlike The Monti, which Forbus used for inspiration, all of the stories told locally are meant to be funny. The storytellers, an ever-growing cast that started with a group of Forbus and Wood’s friends, rehearse several times a week leading up to the performances. The stories are memorized, and always related to a pre-chosen theme, which is new every performance. Previous topics have included themes such as “Shame,” “Love Bites” and “Because I Got Drunk.” Due to considerations of the available space, That’s What She Said’s next show will be broken into two parts, both of which will have the theme “Daddy Issues.” The first of those two performances takes places Thursday (6/23) at C4 Nightclub. The second comes to Bordinos Restaurant and Wine Bar on Sunday (6/26).

A recent That’s What She Said audience at Bordinos Restaurant and Wine Bar.

Courtesy photo

The stories range in length from nine to 14 minutes each. Stories are whittled down and honed into funnier versions during the rehearsal process. They work best when they share a personal situation that focuses on a universal truth. Forbus uses as an example a story recently told by Wood in which she relayed that her grade school nickname was “Beefalo.”

“When it’s something everyone can sympathize with, that’s the best,” Forbus said. “It was so funny, because everyone’s had something like that happen to them.”

Already, the group is expanding to new locations, with a show coming up in Eureka Springs in July. The number of members is also expanding. That’s What She Said features about a dozen storytellers who take turns presenting. About half will go onstage Thursday at C4 and about half will perform Sunday at Bordino’s.

As good as Bordino’s and the many other local venues that have hosted the storytelling sessions have been to the group, Wood says the group is looking for another home to better accommodate its recent swelling in size. That’s What She Said would love to eventually expand regionally, perhaps with shows in Bentonville, Little Rock or elsewhere.

“We’re really trying to find a great venue,” Wood said. “We’re just really afraid we’ve hit capacity.”

Yes, That’s What She Said.

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