Originated in New York City, The Moth is an open-mic storytelling show that has spread to cities across the country, all the way to Los Angeles, where there’s certainly no dearth of performers. There’s a pre-announced theme for each Moth show (“nerve,” “grudges,” “shifting gears,” “fall from grace,” “taking sides”), and participants put their name in a hat for a chance to present their piece onstage. If chosen, performers get five minutes to tell a cohesive (and true!) story—with a beginning, middle and end—that falls under the theme. The story (and its telling) is scored from 1 to 10 by preselected audience-member judges. It’s a friendly competition that helps to shape emerging storytellers, and the quick turnover (ten storytellers per show at five minutes each) keeps the audience attentive. A tip for viewers: Look at the schedule beforehand and pick a show with a theme that interests you; if you just went through a breakup, it would suck to show up at “true love” night.
Forget overly dramatic spoken word in crowded coffee shops. The writers and performers at these popular storytelling shows (where you'll hear coherent, concise tales rather than stream of consciousness spewing) are smart, funny and fearless. Many of these shows are adapted from improv shows to websites and podcasts, and some have spawned books. Hit up several of these shows to see everything from surprise celebrity appearances to surprising talent sitting right next to you in the audience.
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