It’s kind of appropriate that Leslie Goshko, a woman of Ukrainian heritage with an arsenal of anecdotes, hosts a monthly storytelling show at KGB Bar, the former socialist clubhouse for Soviet ex-pats. Tonight, Sideshow Goshko celebrates its fifth anniversary.
What do we mean by arsenal of anecdotes? Well, Goshko once worked as a high school teacher in Oklahoma, even though she had no education degree or certification of any sort. A courtship with one beau began when she had a pizza box containing a dead squirrel delivered to his door. Despite being deathly allergic to cats, seven months ago she and her also-allergic husband, Kyle Erickson, purchased a cat from a lady in Florida. Goshko signed up for three years worth of routine injections from her allergist. Oh, well. At least they get to keep Tater.
Though maybe best known for her roadkill-as-love-token tale, my favorite story might be how she was able to come to New York in the first place. Six years ago, during her dubious teaching tenure, Goshko won an Internet dance contest where the prize was appearing on Broadway for a night with the cast of Hairspray. Soon after, she and Erickson sold all their belongings and emptied their bank account and moved to a 300-square-foot apartment in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (last year they relocated to Astoria).
Editorially-minded Erickson first brought Goshko to KGB for a poetry reading. “If my husband wouldn’t have told me that this was an institution of New York, I would have been like, ‘Another place to drink!’” she said. At the time, she had no idea KGB was a hub for writers like Rick Moody, Luc Sante, Lydia Davis, and on and on.
A classically trained pianist (who received callbacks to play the female lead for both the Broadway production of Once and its national tour), Goshko performs every chance she gets. In the late aughts, she won the Manhattan Monologue Slam. One of the judges, comedian Tom Shillue, told her she had great timing and stage presence. She wasn’t particularly interested in doing stand-up, but following Shillue’s advice, she started going to see shows at Comix. The management gave her a trial run hosting her own free storytelling show.
Since then, Goshko Slideshow has hosted the likes of Steve Burns, Jackie Kashian, Chris Gethard, Tom Shillue, and, of course, B+B favorite Dave Hill. Always with the same format: four storytellers each receive 10 minutes of performance time, with Goshko generously going third to settle the crowd after intermission. Also, four supremely difficult trivia questions are asked and Goshko always gives away a bottle of Sideshow Sauce (aka Three Buck Chuck wine from Trader Joe’s).
Comix closed in 2011, and Goshko needed a new venue. Back at KGB, she bonded with Denis Woychuk, who has owned the bar for the past 20 years, over their Ukrainian heritage. Goshko Sideshow had its new home, and it remains the only comedic storytelling event among the East Fourth Street bar’s fiction, non-fiction and poetry readings. She’ll be joined at 7 p.m. by Moth GrandSlam Champion Andy Christie, RISK! podcast host Kevin Allison, and Paris Review contributor Tara Clancy. Five bottles of Sideshow Sauce will be up for grabs.
When asked, “What does the five year anniversary mean to you?” Goshko deadpans. “So much alcohol.”
KGB Bar, 85 E. 4th St., nr. 2nd Ave.; 212-505-3360