Get personal with strangers at The Moth story slam

This week, Hit Sauce is on, getting excited about stripping songs down to pure story. We’re listening to The Moth, taking out melody and backbeat and leaving just the voice, semi-monotone, alone on a microphone. A side of music is provided by violinist/vocalist Mazz Swift.

American storytelling has been hitting a high note of late, as experienced through incisive, sharp writing on your favorite television show or live at a local story slam.

What’s a story slam? It’s a banging competition of bard prowess, a forum for bedtime tale ruminators-gone-pro. At a story slam, contestants take the stage for a maximum of, say, five minutes to tell a true story that happened to them. The story can be based on a theme like regret, temptation or adrenaline. Judges rank the storytelling based on criteria like organization and conflict resolution using Olympics-style scoring.

Storytelling events are popular in music venues and theaters nationwide. Porchlight is an event in San Francisco that has been spinning yarns for 11 years. Chicago has options like Story Sessions, Write Club, Grown Folks Stories and Story Lab. In Austin, New Orleans and Los Angeles storytelling-as-improv is being touted as the new jazz. From NYC, the city that morphed poetry into spoken-word ciphers, comes the original story slam phenom The Moth. New York is the first to institute the practice through a touring production and radio broadcasts of The Moth.

With so many more elaborate entertainment options, why go out in the cold to hear strangers tell personal tales? A regular story slam is spontaneous and told by regular Joes and Janes, no filter. It is truth in real time. Some Moth events include authors and celebrities so it is a more glamorous version of barstool babble. But story slams are wildly popular for the pure open-mic experience. At a recent Moth I heard tales from youth alongside an anecdote from a commute. Narrators took the audience through a range of emotions from sympathy to elation to relief. It wasn’t unlike witnessing characters on the A train, really, but with more structure. After about 10 diverse stories from educated 30-somethings, a potty-mouthed grandmother nailed first place with a story about shtupping her college professor.

Violinist and singer Mazz Swift is ideal musical talent for a story slam. Like Theresa Andersson and Reggie Watts, Mazz uses a loop station to create multi-layered compositions on the spot. Her approach to the violin is a lush blend of folk and soul that is uniquely satisfying. It sets the tone for the stage at The Moth, an event praised for offering an especially human experience.

The Moth story slam series is live in New York Dec 10, 12 and 16. For more information, visit themoth.org.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

Television

Sons of Serendip aims for the top on…

We checked in with Sons of Serendip, a group competing to win "America's Got Talent," about what it will take to win.

Gossip

3 things about Lauren Conrad’s wedding you probably…

Get all the details on William Tell and Lauren Conrad's wedding.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

NFL

Giants vs. Cardinals: 3 things we learned

The Giants heard all week about how ragged their new offense has looked, but even when they finally answered the bell they still can’t find a way to win.

NFL

About a quarter of football players will get…

About one in four National Football League players are likely to end up suffering cognitive impairments during their lifetime, according to a report.

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…