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Jackson hands storytelling duty to kids

This little girl told a harrowing story of her time on the Storyland log flume.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

While Kurt Jackson is a great storyteller, for his newest program called “Kurt Jackson Presents a Kids’ Storytelling Spectacular!”, he is mostly a story facilitator who has handed off much of the actual storytelling duties to kids. Noting how much he missed telling stories in public during the COVID lockdowns, Jackson explained he “loves to just sit back and be told a story” - so he developed this new program wherein kids would be the primary storytellers. He debuted the program last Tuesday night at the gazebo outside the Medfield Library.

With so much of the audience being kids, it was tough to keep them from wandering around the gazebo area.

Jackson explained that lots of jokes are essentially stories, so he called up a boy named Rico who went with the joke: “Why couldn’t the pirate go to the movie? It was rated arrr!”

Then, with Rico off to the side, Kurt Jackson told his joke, which was essentially a story about a librarian (which he customized to be named Bernadette after Medfield's own librarian) who was convinced she had met a talking chicken. Every day, the chicken came in and said “book, book” and she gave him a new book, convinced he could read. Eventually, he took the book to a pond and plopped it down on the lily pad where a frog emerged and declared “read-it.”

But running with the theme of the day, Rico opted to take the mic and improve on the punchline, arguing: “Maybe the frog said read-it because he loves the website,” before imploring kids too young to get his joke to ask their parents to explain it.

Kurt Jackson gets his own joke one-upped by Rico, who provided an alternative punchline.

Next, Rico told his own story. While it was technically a story about going to various local McDonalds in search of a specific "Space Jam" collectible toy and running into workers who refused to sell the toy without the customer buying the whole Happy Meal, Rico’s story was far more reminiscent of a stand up comic “riffing” onstage than of a consistent narrative. At one point, there was a pantomimed mic drop; at other points, he humorously called out any of the kids and parents he didn’t think were paying enough attention; and his story suddenly also had some talking animals, like a pigeon that said “played it” about the toy, which he acknowledged made it "kind of like Mr. Jackson's story."

Extremely comfortable with a mic in his hand, Rico will be working on his tight five sooner or later.

Jackson next told a story of his own about a strength contest between animals in which each animal chooses a unique way to show off how strong it is (the gazelle, for example, shows off its leaping ability, while the elephant knocks over a tree). Eventually, a man enters the contest and uses a gun, only to find the other animals running from him. After this, Jackson invited some of the younger kids up to choose a strong animal and show the crowd how that animal would demonstrate its strength.   

While the kids did most of the storytelling, Jackson did sneak in a few of his own.

Hannah next told a story about the time she went to Storyland and accidentally ended up on the log flume - but while it was a scary experience, she said the picture taken on the ride was so funny that it still made for a fun experience.

Jokes returned soon after, though while some made sense - like “Why did the cookie go to the doctor? He was feeling crummy!” - many of the younger kids’ jokes did not.

The day ended with Jackson telling one final story, “Give Up Gecko”, based on a Ugandan folk tale. Explaining that his theme would revolve around animals, the story was all about various animals in search of water digging a hole in exchange for a fruit tree. When Jackson called to the crowd for an animal that might be digging during the drought, one kid yelled out "whale," to which Jackson joked: “What was a whale doing there? Was he on vacation? He picked the wrong summer.”

Since every kid who got up seemed to enjoy telling their story, if only for the novelty of getting to use a microphone, it seems likely that this won't be the last time Jackson hosts "A Kids' Storytelling Spectacular." Then we'll get to see what yarns, anecdotes and jokes a new batch of kids have to tell.

But that's a story for another day.

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