I only came to watch

•October 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Really.  I swear.

It was my first week back in LA, so I thought, what the hey?  Let’s check out the storytelling scene here.  Like the rest of the East Coast wordies, I’d written off the Los Angeles Moth as a bastion of Professional Handsome Men, telling tales of their professional handsomeness while keeping their best side downstage, toward the crowd full of agents.

What I found when I walked into Busby’s on Wilshire (once I found Wilshire.  Who moved all the roads while I was gone?) was a warm welcoming crowd filled with nerds and weirdos – some of them professionally handsome, sure – and a welcoming air that, frankly, I haven’t felt that strongly in awhile.  And certainly didn’t expect to find in LA, a city I fled in misery six years ago.

So I got me a beverage and settled in to listen to stories about Narrow Escapes.  The weekend before, I started reworking the Zoo story to fit this theme, before getting distracted by a shiny thing (this town is nothing if not shiny) and deciding to simply be a spectator.

Then the final call came to put names in the hat, which coincided with Stella Artois’ arrival in my empty stomach, and then there goes my name, into the hat, which is actually a festive logo tote.  My name joined about 20 others, so the odds weren’t great that I would get called.  I’ve never winged it before at a Moth.  The very thought makes my chest hurt.  But nobody knew me in this room, so what better place to crash and burn?

When my name was called, my mouth went dry and Stella made an attempt to escape.  Oh.  Good.  Lord.  What have I gotten myself into?

A winning story, and a shot at Monday’s GrandSLAM title, that’s what!!

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Did I say “final”?

•March 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Much like Cher’s Farewell Tour turned out to be simply a farewell to 2001, my last appearance on a Speakeasy stage was the very last…before this one.  Which will indeed be my last, as our lovely host Sherry is hanging it up to spend more time with her family, the one that drives her nuts and inspires 98% of her stories.

Oh, she’ll be back.

But until then, come out to Cornelia Street Café on Tuesday, March 2nd, at 8:30pm to say goodbye.  Goodbye to March 2nd, and perhaps even goodbye to Speakeasy Stories.

They will be missed.  Again.

Another Country

•February 22, 2010 • 4 Comments

If my first job of the 10s is any indication, it’s going to be a neat decade.  Holly Carter is the founder of BYkids, an organization that puts cameras in the hands of kids around the world, letting them tell their personal stories under the guidance of professional filmmakers.  BYkids combines my 2 favorite pastimes – travel and storytelling – with the kind of raw, genuine filmmaking you only find in a demographic that hasn’t yet developed an ego.

In January, Holly asked me to take their latest work and edit it down for consideration in short film festivals.  The film, My Country is Tibet, is by Namgyal Wangchuk Trichen Lhagyari, the 17-year-old king of this embattled nation.  It’s the story of his life in exile in India, and the footsteps he must fill in a land he doesn’t belong to.  I had to take Trichen’s film and cut it nearly in half, rearranging nearly every scene in order to preserve his voice and his story.  It’s not every day I get to edit a king.

Live and Learn

•February 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last month, I was invited to read at Blaise Kearsley’s show, “How I Learned,” a monthly series staged at a former Chinatown massage parlor called Happy Ending.  Typically, I avoid readings.  They can be twee and pretentious and self-serving, and the pages form a weird barrier between the storyteller and audience.  Plus, a lot of good writers can’t read.

But the theme for this night was “How I Learned I Might Be Obsessed,” and I happen to have a really twee, self-serving story about this very topic.  And having it on paper meant I wouldn’t have to commit it to memory, and I’d have something to hold between myself and the audience.  And besides, it was the night of the Moth Grand Slam, the grandaddy of storytelling events.  There was no pressure.  I mean, who the hell is going to schlep all the way over to Chinatown on a Grand Slam night?

Answer: everybody.  The place was packed.  Cheek-to-jowl, standing room only, and I didn’t recognize a single face.  Blaise does an amazing job of spreading the word, helped along by glowing recommendations in Time Out and New York Magazine.  She does an even better job hosting, giving hilarious glimpses into her own obsession (Oprah) with a mixture of humility and generosity rarely seen in somebody whose name is that close to the title.

My fellow readers slayed me.  The stories were captivating, the audience responsive, the air positively tingling.  I hadn’t had this much fun in – or at – a story event in ages.  Here’s our hostess’s take on the evening:

http://howilearnedathappyending.blogspot.com/2010/01/entry-from-my-oprah-winfrey-gratitude.html

This month is “How I Learned to Lie, Cheat or Steal,” featuring Ophira Eisenberg and Andy Christie, the host of The Liar Show – my other favorite event of all time.  It’s an incestuous night on the Lower East Side, and you don’t want to miss it.  On Wednesday the 24th, get yourself to Happy Ending.

http://newyork.timeout.com/search/events/recommended=ON&date=WEDNESDAY&section=13

Love is Blind

•January 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

An old nugget from The Moth Story Slam at the Nuyorican. The theme of the night was “persuasion.” You can talk me into doing a lot of things, but don’t try talking me into another blind date.  Enjoy the top of my head as it tells you why.  (Note to self: next time, lower the mike.)

My Final Speakeasy

•January 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After 4 years and hundreds of stories, Sherry is hanging up the microphone to go live in a yurt in Bensonhurst. I believe Kurdish orphans are involved. And a lackey named Carl. That’s the story, anyway. 

Sherry gave many of us a stage and a spotlight when the NYC storytelling scene was in its infancy. Her voice, her support – and her distinct hosting style – will be greatly missed.

I am thrilled to share the stage with her one last time, joined by the magnificent Faye, Melanie, Margot, and two random dudes.

Come see one of Sherry Weaver’s final Cornelia Street shows! If only to hear what her lousy kids are up to.  And see why Time Out New York lists Speakeasy as one of their “101 things to do in NYC.”

http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/own-this-city/81134/101-things-to-do-in-new-york-city-in-the-winter/7.html

First Show of the Decade! Saturday, January 2nd.

•January 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

You’re already lying to yourself with those resolutions.  Why stop now?

Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street (between West 4th and Bleeker)
6pm

Featuring stories from:
MARTIN DOCKERY “Fantastic.” – N.Y. Times
OPHIRA EISENBERG “Marvelous.” – The Scotsman
TRACY ROWLAND – “Tall.” – Grandma
PETER LUBELL – “Available.” – Peter Lubell
Host:
ANDY CHRISTIE – “Who?”

THE STORIES
Four writers and comics tell short, extremely personal stories that will make you laugh and probably make you glad you don’t live with them. But only three of these people are telling the truth.

THE INTERROGATION
All four performers return to the stage and defend their honor while the audience grills them.

THE VERDICT
Each audience member casts a ballot and the perceptive geniuses who guess correctly walk away with a prize T-shirt amid a bitter chorus of “Congratulations, Einstein,” from the empty-handed losers.