Yesterday was one of those days that I will never forget. Last night I had the honor of telling a story at one of The Moth’s StorySLAMs at The Nuyorican Poets Café in the Lower East Side. My goal was to simply be chosen to tell my story, but at the end of the night, I was fortunate enough to be named the winner of the StorySLAM!
For those of you who don’t know, The Moth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of live storytelling without notes.
More details here.
It’s an organization I have supported for a long time and love dearly. I listen to their weekly podcast and have had the pleasure of attending a couple of their events in the past, and so I made it one of my New Year’s resolutions to tell a story onstage at a Moth event sometime this year.
To be completely honest, it was one of those unlikely-to-happen resolutions, but placing it on the list increased the chances of it happening.
And so as you may know, I pitched a story via their website about a month ago, and so far it has been well received by listeners. My hope was that this pitch might ultimately land me on a Moth stage.
But last night I attended one of their storytelling events with Elysha with hopes of somehow making it to the stage.
Ten names were chosen randomly from a field of about fifteen storytellers to tell a story, and three teams of judges scored the storytellers based upon quality of their story, how well the story applied to last night’s theme (Ego) and how well it conformed to the time limit (5 minutes).
I was chosen last and told a story about my days as a high school pole vaulter.
When the scores were tallied, I was the winner.
I couldn’t believe it.
Honestly, I still can’t believe it.
It’s funny, because people who know and love The Moth might understand what a big deal this is for me, but if you have never heard of The Moth before, it’s incredibly difficult to convey the amazing nature of the organization and the people involved. There were probably about 300 people in that café last night, lined up two hours before the doors opened, all passionate about storytelling.
It’s a remarkable organization, and to think that I was able to participate was amazing enough. Winning the event and now having the opportunity to compete at a GrandSLAM competition in September alongside other StorySLAM winners is more than I could have ever dreamed.
I got home last night around 1:30, went to bed around 2:00 and woke up around 5:30 to play a round of golf, and I was still walking on air.
I know it sounds a little silly, but in the grand scheme of things, the birth of my daughter was probably the most important day of my life. Next comes the marriage to my wife, and then the sale of my first book, and then maybe this. It was that big for me.
Perhaps I’ll tell more stories in the future, and The Moth will become old hat for me, but on this day, at this moment, I couldn’t be more happy.
It was a big night for me, and one I will never forget.
The stories were recorded, and so there is a chance, albeit slim, that my story may be one day chosen for their podcast, and if so, you will have a chance to hear it as it was told. But I wrote the story out beforehand, and although what I said onstage did not match what I wrote (there were many additions and deletions to the story as I spoke), I’ll clean it up and post a copy of my story as I wrote it sometime this week for anyone who would like to read it.
My thanks to Dan Kennedy, last night’s host, as well as all the people who make The Moth happen at venues around the country every week. You are the best.
And thanks to the most supportive, enthusiastic audience that a storyteller could ever ask for. It's almost impossible to be nervous about stepping on that stage when the building is filled with people dying to hear your story.
My most heartfelt appreciation to all.
See you in September at the GrandSLAM!