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The Moth

April 25, 2013

Last night, I went with some friends to The Moth’s GrandSLAM event at the Park West in Chicago. The Moth, as it’s tagline notes, is “true stories, told live.” The five-minute stories are told by amateurs, and the stories must be non-fictional accounts of something from their own life.

The GrandSLAM  is a collection of winners from their semi-monthly StorySLAM events. It’s a great time, and I highly recommend going if you ever have a chance. That said, I do have a couple of notes and points of critique I’d like to share, in the interest of improving the experience for both storyteller and audience. 

  1. Each event has a theme; last night’s theme was “Worlds Colliding.” Some of the stories, frankly, had nothing to do with worlds colliding. Believe me, I tried to make the connection. Wasn’t there. 
  2. I know some (most?) will disagree with me, but I did not particularly like the more animated storytellers. To me, the point of the event is not to put on a show or give a performance; you are there to tell a story. So tell the story. Forget about the histrionics, the physical work and the overwrought emotions. If you have a truly great story to tell, it will come through your words. Let’s not reward people simply for being dramatic. 
  3. The Moth’s website is a terrific resource, and I particularly appreciate the opportunity to hear other tales from storytellers I enjoyed at the GrandSLAM. What I’d like is to be able to make a donation directly to those individuals. Not that I’m opposed to making a donation to The Moth generally, but considering that the amateurs are the ones who are providing the content and the bulk of the entertainment, I’d prefer to give directly to them. Perhaps this isn’t possible given the non-profit registration of the organization, but it would be a great option if available.
  4. The storytellers’ names were drawn randomly to determine who speaks when at each event. This is certainly egalitarian, but for the sake of putting on the best show possible and rewarding your audience for their patronage, it would be an improvement to arrange the storytellers in a lineup that has the likely stronger participants going last. This might be possible only at the GrandSLAM events, once the storytellers have been observed at the StorySLAM events. At last night’s event, for instance, the best storyteller (Steve Zimmer) was the last one to speak before intermission. That was fortuitous timing. It would have been terrible to have him lead off the night, and then have it turn out that every other participant was a little bit worse than him. 

Summing up, The Moth is a lot of fun, and I look forward to attending more of their events. They host events in a number of cities around the country, and I encourage you to look up whether you might have the same opportunity. 

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