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Live Lit Series Guts & Glory Will End After Tonight’s Show

The popular live lit show is calling it quits.

Guts & Glory hosts and founders Keith Ecker and Sam Irby.   Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth McQuern

While idly looking for date ideas yesterday (seriously, what does one do on an unseasonably cold Wednesday night?), I suddenly remembered that it was the third week of May.

The third week of May is not significant for any reason, except for the fact that every third Wednesday of the month, the live lit show Guts & Glory takes place at Schubas Tavern (3159 N. Southport Ave.).

Since it began in 2012, Guts & Glory has quickly become one of the best storytelling series in the city. Its readers abide by its tagline (live lit for the lionhearted), sharing the sorts of true (and lightly embellished) tales ranging from the stunningly vulnerable to the nausea-inducingly funny.

It’s essentially the kind of reading you should expect from its hosts: Sam Irby, writer of the raucous essay collection Meaty and blogger at Bitches Gotta Eat, and Keith Ecker, founder of live lit show Essay Fiesta and producer of WBEZ podcast PleasureTown. A diverse crowd routinely packs the upstairs room at Schubas every month and the lineup regularly features national Moth StorySlam winners and established live lit folks. Plus, it’s free.

So with my date idea on lock, I went on Guts & Glory’s Facebook page only to find this post:

“Guts & Glory: Farewell Show. We got too old for this shit.”

Shocked both by the announcement and the insanely lowkey measure of said sad announcement, I called up co-founder Keith Ecker to find out why they were calling it in.

Why end Guts & Glory now?

A lot of things have changed since we started the show. Sam has a second book deal on the heels of her very successful first book so she has to take some time to meet those deadlines. And we just launched the second season of my podcast PleasureTown, so I need to concentrate on that more. But it’s a good time for the evolution of the storytelling scene. It’s exploded. There are any number of shows that people can attend any night of the week and there’s definitely opportunities for new people to step up and become showrunners.

Why did you decide to do the show in the first place?

We both really respected each other’s work. She had seen me perform; I asked her to do Essay Fiesta and I performed at Sunday Night Sex Show. The more I got to know her, the more I realized there was something we could probably do together. Sam is known for her no-holds barred storytelling and I have a tendency to go there as well. So we said let’s do a show that has the highest stakes possible, where we discuss topics that you might not talk about in another forum. It’s been a really great experience to be able to share these types of stories in a raw, unfiltered way. I hesitate to use this word, but some people have called it therapeutic.

What are you going to miss about the show?

I’m not going to miss it at all. Screw it. Haha, no, I’m going to miss it all. This is the first time in a few years that I’m not going to be producing a show. I’m going to miss working with Sam every month. We genuinely touched people with this show. So it’s good that we’re going out on top. 

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