“Busted Mouth” Comes to Antioch

“Busted Mouth” star J.W. Basilo shares stories and laughs with students at the Storytellers Series.

Shannon Price

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Musician, comedian and radio personality J.W. Basilo performed in the Storytellers Series among other non-traditional storytellers on Wednesday, April 4. He began his presentation by expressing his appreciation for this event being changed from Writers Week to Storytellers Series because stories are at the core of everything we do, see and hear.

Basilo performed at Storytellers Series, formally Writer’s Week, a few years ago and talked about his former career as a professional poet and theater director. He would travel around to clubs and bars in Chicago and perform his work to, as he puts it, less than enthusiastic crowds. Basilo decided that there needed to be a change. He recalled that when he was child, finding a DJ on the radio who really spoke to him was a very important and relatively difficult thing to do. He loved how they each had their own niche, stayed true to their own interests and connected with their listeners. He wanted to create something similar to what he loved as a kid, so last year he created his weekly “Busted Mouth” radio show and podcast. The show consists of music, comedic monologues, discussions with audience members and celebrity interviews, to name a few things.

During his performance, Basilo shared a couple of his monologues with the audience. The first was a comedic retelling of a true story that he had experienced of a so-called “sidewalk fight,” and the second was a critical essay about popular music artist Post Malone’s success and how it is due to him “staying in his lane.” He repeatedly took time to talk to individual audience members and ask them questions about themselves and their lives. Basilo asked questions like what students wanted to do with their lives, why they like certain artists and why the creative process is more important than the product.

“He was really good [at] engaging the audience,” senior Evangeline Swanson said.

Most of his performance was geared toward the comedy category, but he deepened the emotions in the room when he read a free-verse poem about a former job he had teaching a poetry class at a local juvenile prison. The poem was about how the boys in this prison are denied physical human contact. After the performance, senior Madison Shepard shared her opinion of Basilo’s performance.

“He was very honest and authentic in everything he said and did,” Shepard said.

Basilo’s radio show “Busted Mouth” airs on Que4 Radio on Mondays from noon to 2 p.m. His podcast can be found on iTunes and Spotify as well.