James Braly

Award-winning Comedic Storyteller, Off-Broadway Monologist, Memoirist, & Teacher


“James conducted an enlightening, eye opening session on the art of storytelling during our recent team offsite. It was equal parts educational and emotional as my group began to open up and share experiences. What began as a simple exercise in narrative ended in a bonding experience for all.”

—Kathleen Pierce, Vice President, ADF Global Communications,

The Estee Lauder Companies

James Braly is an award-winning comedic storyteller, author, and visiting professor at Fordham University. He is the writer and performer of the critically-acclaimed, hit one-man show Life in a Marital Institution (performed over 250 times), a darkly humorous and poignant autobiographical tale of lust, love, betrayal, and redemption OR the tragicomedy of married life. It premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, sold-out 59E59 Theatres in New York City, transferred Off Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse, and toured the country, presented by Meredith Vieira Productions. He is also the author of Life in a Marital Institution: 20 Years of Monogamy in One Terrifying Memoir (St. Martin’s Press), as well as the writer developing the television pilot based on the show for Meredith Vieira Productions. His stories have been broadcast nationally on This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, NPR, and Marketplace.

Life in a Marital Institution was Braly’s first theatrical effort after a successful 20-year career writing motivational speeches for Fortune 500 companies. Since the success of his show, he has become a sought-after speaker about relationships, parenting, and most importantly, harnessing the power of storytelling in both the corporate arena and our personal lives. He has told stories and taught storytelling at corporations such as The Sundance Channel, People magazine, Liz Claiborne, Estee Lauder, National Speaker’s Association, Heineken USA, as well as at private events. He has taught autobiographical storytelling at theaters around the country in conjunction with the national tour of his show, as well as at Fordham University, where he continues to teach.

Braly has performed in theatres, festivals, and art venues around the world, including The Whitney Museum, Long Wharf Theatre, Symphony Space, and The Moth, where he won the Moth GrandSlam Storytelling Competition (the first person to win it twice). His full-length monologue, The Monthly Nut (How Much Misery Does it Take to be Happy?), directed by Seth Barrish (Sleepwalk with Me), is in development at The Barrow Group Theatre. And his full-length monologue, Asylum, commissioned by New York City’s Dixon Place, is in development as a television series with Meredith Vieira Productions. Braly’s essays appear in the anthologies, Afterbirth and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, as well as in national publications such as Redbook and the New York Times.

Praise for James Braly’s Talks & Workshops

“James conducted an enlightening, eye opening session on the art of storytelling during our recent team offsite. It was equal parts educational and emotional as my group began to open up and share experiences. What began as a simple exercise in narrative ended in a bonding experience for all.”

—Kathleen Pierce, Vice President, ADF Global Communications,

The Estee Lauder Companies

“James helped my marketing leadership team prepare for our annual distributor convention which is a very high stakes moment in the beer industry.  We got the feedback that the presentations were the best they had seen, not only from Heineken, but also compared with other huge beer companies like ABI and Miller Coors.  Every presenter worked a personal story into his or her presentation, and the presentations really came alive because of that. James is really great to work with – in helping us to identify what makes a great story, and then tell it in an engaging way. All in all, a fantastic experience!”

—Lesya Lysyj, SVP Marketing/CMO, Heineken

“Thank you for coming and spending your time with us… and tailoring your remarks to us as speechwriters… You have helped elevate the quality of speechwriting in our city, a kind of community service…”

—Dana Rubin, Founder and Director of the New York Speechwriters’ Roundtable

“James Braly is, simply put, one of the finest storytellers in New York. In the tradition of John Irving and Spalding Gray, Braly writes openly about the things that most of us are afraid to admit we even think. With great humor and elegance, he reveals complex psychological and emotional truths, effectively taking us on a tour of our own inner lives.”

—Catherine Burns, Artistic Director, The Moth

“James creates such an environment of honesty where participants could speak freely about themselves, to one another and feel completely comfortable sharing stories with strangers. . . I have gotten high praise, for the content of the workshop and also for James’s willingness to commit the time to working in such detail with the group of participants. The workshop far exceeded their expectations.”

—Staci Dillard Koonce, Director of Education, The Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Greenville, SC

“I brought James Braly in to speak to the National Speakers Association (NSA) on the power of storytelling as a catalyst to build one’s brand and credibility from a literary as well as performance perspective. Not only were the participants wowed by the amount of expertise he delivered, but also by his warmth, generosity of spirit and feedback. It was a total hit. . . I highly recommend him for your group of interested smart professionals who understand the power of storytelling as a tool for attracting media, clients and building one’s reputation.”

—Lois Barth, Speaker, Coach, and Motivational Expert, Chair of National Speakers Association Meet Up

Praise for Life in a Marital Institution (One-man Show)

“James Braly is never less than excellent. . . Yes, you should report him, except you’re laughing too hard!”

New York Times

“Braly presents it winningly, with a keen sense of absurdity.”

The New Yorker

“Gaspingly funny.”


“A comic raconteur who can hold a room captive.”


“If Walt Whitman had been straight, married, and hilarious, he would have been James Braly.”

—Andy Borowitz, The NewYorker, NPR Contributor

 “A masterpiece of storytelling full of humor and pungent observation.”

The List

“This is stylish monologue, reminiscent of those of Spalding Gray. Excellent.”

London Times

“One of the best feats of one-person-showmanship I’ve seen.”

—Sarah Jones, Tony Award winner, Bridge & Tunnel

“James Braly looks like a cross between Richard Gere and Bill Maher, but it’s the Bill Maher part of the equation that carries the most weight. To judge from Braly’s one-man show, Life in a Marital Institution, now playing at SoHo Playhouse, he’s a born pundit and stand-up comic (and his former life as a corporate speech writer doesn’t hurt, either). . . [Braly’s] straightforward but self-deprecating delivery makes the evening a true howl. A terrifying marriage was never so funny.”

Best of Off-Broadway

“Simultaneously disturbing and snort-wine-out-your-nose hysterical…”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Praise for Life in a Marital Institution (the memoir)

“Spend some time in James’s marital institution and you’ll feel much better about yours. Honest, poignant, raw, and so real. James Braly may be the most honest man I know.”

—Meredith Vieira

“James Braly manages to infuse his stories of life on the home front with humor, authenticity, edge, and that rarest of all qualities, heart.”

—Joyce Maynard, Author, To Die For

“In this spirited outpouring of youthful vitriol, former New York copywriter and performance monologist Braly offers an aggrieved and hilarious account of his long courtship and marriage. Braly faces down harrowing emotional hurdles with a gritty, lip-curling humor.”

Publishers Weekly

“This book is his very own brilliant, heartfelt comedy of errors and neurotic torture.”

—Dan kennedy, author of American Spirit: A Novel

“JamesBraly is a master storyteller.”

—Jonathan Ames, Creator, Bored to Death (HBO)

“. . .the fine line between humor and heartbreak.”

Kirkus Reviews