Check out a new show debuting this week, or revisit established storytelling events in New York City. If you're an aspiring storyteller yourself, here are three pointers from Moth GrandSLAM winner, teacher and doctoral student Micaela Blei (micaelablei.com).
Make it personal
"Your story should be about you, whether it’s a big life event or a small moment. If it’s important in your life, and if it affected you, that’s a story worth sharing."
Know where you’re heading
"Some storytellers memorize their stories, while others improvise from an outline. Both work! But if you’re nervous, knowing at least your first line and your last line will help you get started and finish strong."
"You and the audience are in this together—they actually want you to succeed! Just be real with them and they’ll be on your side. Storytelling audiences are lovely that way."
Now that you're ready to take the stage, head to one of these storytelling nights to listen and share.
This brand-new show is the latest offering from the pseudonymous Jefferson, a museum curator by day and the producer of the X-rated Bare! (barestories.wordpress.com) and Spill! (spillstories.wordpress.com) storytelling events by night. In it, guests tell object-based anecdotes in a setup that’s akin to Antiques Roadshow meets the Moth. Each show is organized around a theme such as “souvenirs” or “heirlooms.” Performers will include polished storytellers, curators and seasoned collectors; for the series debut on January 17, musician John Heneghan (of Eden and John’s East River String Band) will bring out the 1930s Kay Kraft guitar once played by blues legend Curley Weaver and country music great Norman Woodlieff. Visit barestories.wordpress.com for more information.
Erin Barker (a writer, copy editor and Moth GrandSLAM winner) and Ben Lillie (a TED contributing editor and physicist) curate this monthly roundup of science-themed stories. In the past, their combined Rolodex has produced performers both literary and scientific, including Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Harmon, neuroscientist Andre Fenton and journalist Carl Zimmer. January’s “Behind the Scenes”–themed event features six real-life accounts from the hidden corners of labs and schools and the recesses of pharmaceutical sales offices; in February, hear how romance and rationality mix in “Love and Science.” Visit storycollider.org for more information.
Founded in August, this monthly affair brings together some of the city’s best writers and comedians around a seasonally appropriate theme, such as “Thanks a Lot” for November and “Holidays” for December. Each show takes place in a different part of the city, and host Andrew Linderman—a writer, humorist and story coach—quizzes the audience about the neighborhood between tales. At the end of the night, the audience member who tallies the most correct answers takes home a prize (last month’s goody was a gift bag from Economy Candy on the Lower East Side). January’s topic is, fittingly, “Hibernation”; test your East Village expertise and hear parables about hiding and dormancy from author Michele Carlo, comedian Maggie Nuttall, actor and playwright Jen Sanders and monologuist Jenice Matias. Visit localstories.tumblr.com for more information.
The Liar Show
Hosted by veteran storyteller and writer Andy Christie, whose work has appeared in The New York Times and on WNYC, this long-running series is similar to that old party game Two Truths and a Lie. Four narrators offer three true personal experiences and one whopper; after listening, the audience interrogates the cast and attempts to uncover the fraud. Popular names from the comedy, writing and storytelling scene are often called in to test your gullibility. Past guests include Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR’s Ask Me Another, and New Yorker scribe Andy Borowitz. February’s monologuists include Bad Kid playwright and Moth host David Crabb, plus humorist and Barbershop Stories host Dawn Fraser. No lie. Visit theliarshow.com for the full schedule.
A monthly mix of kiss-and-tell and sex ed, this series showcases authors, comics, sex workers and spoken-word artists as they discuss their exploits with bedroom toys. Between sets, Babeland staff and other experts chime in to offer practical information in a safe, friendly environment. Brave audience members can put their names in the hat for a chance to disclose their own adventures, and one listener each month wins a sex-toy raffle courtesy of Babeland. In February, TV personality and blogger Carolyn Castiglia, literary professor and performer Michelle-Leona Godin, plus Moth stalwarts Maggie Nuttall and Frank Gaulthier are among those to open their hearts and nightstands to the crowd. Visit barestories.wordpress.com for more information.