Andy Offutt Irwin really likes to tell his fictional stories involving his 85-year-old, widowed, aunt, Marguerite VanCamp, a newly minted physician. He talks with humor and candor about aging and growth, even amongst the aged.
Since he is from Georgia, he also likes telling stories about the area and the people, addressing the issues that pertain to the “New South” and the social changes occurring therein.
His stories are flavored with humor and framed on truth. “Good fiction must be framed in truth, even if one is not dwelling completely in fact,” he said.
“My characters are developed in such a way that they inform me of what they need to say. This is truer than you can imagine.”
Fellow storyteller Ed Stivender told Irwin he loves how he protects and takes good care of his characters in his stories.
Irwin started out in a comedy troupe that provided shows to Walt Disney World: SAK Theatre. He performed, wrote and directed with them but failed to find the connection there he wanted with people.
He started working as a teaching artist with “Young Audiences of Atlanta” when he met storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy. She pitched the idea of storytelling to Irwin. He had done some stand-up and performing but hadn’t considered storytelling. He tried it and was soon invited to the National Storytelling Festival which turned out to be a life changing experience.
He describes himself as a humorist who listens to his audience and is working on his “funny.”
“I utterly live on the reaction of an audience,” adds Irwin. “Although I have dabbled in radio and television, I have been a live performer all my life. The audiences’ reactions inform me as to what is working, what is heard and understood, and what needs adjusting. The laughter I listen for tells me that the people are present with me in the story.
“Laughter is “the sound of comprehension,” he shares.
He was awarded the 2013 National Storytelling Network Circle of Excellence Award.