I’ve been remiss in this column by having never mentioned my favorite grassroots storytelling movements: The Moth and Mortified.
I’ll start with Mortified, since I discovered them first. A friend of mine who had met the founder Dave and his co-producer Neil a few years ago, and loved the show so much she started producing her own a show in DC.
She couldn’t stop talking about the genius of the idea: real people getting up and sharing their most horrific (and often hilarious) moments in childhood and adolescence, through their old diaries, notes, original song lyrics, ill-fated plays, etc.
I went to my first show in Portland on Valentine’s Day weekend a few years back, and laughed till I cried. The show in LA was even more amazing, as the self-titled “Dork-estra” plays songs to bring on the performers and enhance their pieces.
There is nothing so familiar as the angst of those years growing up, and Dave hit upon a goldmine several years ago when he found an old love letter (or more like a pitch letter) to a girl he liked and read it out loud to a few of his friends, and Mortified was born. They’ve expanded to shows all over the country, books and now, a movie.
If it ever comes to your town (or within 50 miles), it will be the best $8-10 you’ve ever spent. I swear. Check out the upcoming dates at www.getmortified.com. Another thing I love about these guys? They are always evolving, and a few years ago started the Shoebox Show, short videos of some favorite Mortified moments. If you can find anything funnier out there in this genre than “I Hate Drake” I welcome that challenge.
The Moth is equally amazing, and I stumbled upon it while searching for podcasts to listen to while running. I love me some This American Life and Fresh Air, but I needed more content, hence The Moth.
It’s simply stories told live, spontaneously, without notes — a theme is provided, but that’s it. It was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green, who “wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, when moths were attracted to the light on the porch where he and his friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales. The first New York Moth event was held in George’s living room and the story events quickly spread to larger venues throughout the city.”
Now, they have several platforms, traveling shows and many StorySlams all over the country, not to mention the new Moth Radio Hour, which is heaven for junkies like me. Often they get the super famous to get up and tell a great story, too.
It is here that I discovered the amazing Mike Birbigula, comic extraordinaire, who’s piece, “Sleepwalk with Me” about his night terrors (which included busting out of a hotel room window – like through the glass – thinking he was a secret agent being chased by the Enemy) is probably one of the top 10 things I’ve ever heard in life. Here is a link to some pieces to listen to, or subscribe to them on Itunes for FREE.
And remember, this is real reality programming, not that fake stuff. This is, however, a real Snooki pumpkin.
Turn off the Jersey Shore, it’s making you dumber, your skin orangey-er and there are so many more interesting real stories out there to listen to. I think I just channeled my grandmother there.