Just this past week I heard from listeners who heard one or more of my stories on The Moth's podcast, The Moth Radio Hour, and/or The Moth's website in:
Cape Town, South Africa
New York City
Sao Paulo, Brazil
The idea that people across the globe are listening to me tell stories about my life is incredible. The power and reach of The Moth cannot be overstated.
And you could do this, too. If you're in the vicinity of a Moth StorySLAM (and there are many throughout the country and the world), you should go and tell a story. Drop your name in the tote bag and wait for your name to be called. Perform well, and your story might travel the world someday, too.
And everyone has a story. If you don't believe me, start doing my Homework for Life and you'll soon discover that you have more stories than you could have ever imagined.
So choose a true story from your life, take the stage at a Moth StorySLAM, and speak into the microphone. Tell your story. It need not be funny or sad and suspenseful or perfect. It simply needs to be a story. The Moth actually offers some tips and tricks to help your performance. And there is no better place in the world to tell a story than at The Moth. The men and women who host and produce these shows are remarkably supportive and exceptionally professional. The sound equipment is second to none. And best of all, the audiences are warm, kind, and more accepting than you could ever imagine.
And who knows? It could change your life.
It changed mine.
July 11, 2016 will mark my five year anniversary in storytelling. On that day in 2011, I took a stage at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and competed in my first Moth StorySLAM. I told a story about pole vaulting in high school and managed to win the slam.
That story eventually made its way onto The Moth Radio Hour and podcast.
My original plan was to tell one story on a Moth stage and never return. Do it once and put it behind me. Check off the box marked "The Moth" and move on.
Instead, I fell in love with storytelling. I worked hard and got better. Today storytelling is an enormous part of my life.
In the past five years, I've competed in 43 Moth StorySLAMs, winning 23 of them. I've also competed in 17 Moth GrandSLAM championships, winning four of them. I've performed on stages small and large throughout the country and around the world for The Moth and many other storytelling organizations.
In 2013 Elysha and I launched Speak Up, a Connecticut-based storytelling organization with the goal of bringing the art of storytelling to the Hartford area. By the end of 2016 we will have produced more than 40 sell-out or near sell-out shows throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. We've partnered with theaters, museums, art spaces, and more, performing for audiences ranging from 150-500 people.
I've also taught storytelling to thousands of people, both in workshops that I run and in my role of storytelling expert on Slate's The Gist. Recently, I've begun performing solo shows at places like The Pound Ridge Storytelling Festival, The Lebanon Opera House, and Kripalu, and I've begun delivering keynote and inspirational addresses for a variety of organizations.
My wife has been able to stay home with our children for the past seven years in part because of storytelling.
All I wanted to do when I began this journey was tell one story for The Moth.
And I am not special. I did not grow up in a family of storytellers. I didn't learn to tell stories from some master storyteller. I didn't spend nights in coffee bars and at open mics honing my craft. I just went to The Moth and told a story. Then I did it again and again and again.
So if you're in the vicinity of a Moth StorySLAM, you should go and tell a story, too. As frightening or daunting or nerve wracking or impossible as that might sound, you should go. Since I began telling stories for The Moth, about half a dozen of my closest friends (including one former elementary school student) have gone to The Moth to tell a story. Many of my former storytelling students have taken the stage at a Moth StorySLAM and performed.
Dozens more have told a story for us at Speak Up.
If you live near a city that host a Moth StorySLAM, go and tell a story. I can't imagine what my life might be like today had I not conquered my fear and told my first story.
And if you live in the vicinity of me, I'd be happy to take you to one. Climb into my car and we'll drive together to New York or Boston and listen to ten strangers (and perhaps me) tell a true story from their lives. The stories will be honest, funny, heart-wrenching, surprising, suspenseful, and more. Some will be told exceptionally well. Some less so.
It won't matter. You will have a fantastic evening of entertainment and human connection.
Maybe you'll even tell a story yourself. You should. You never know what may happen.