Ophira Eisenberg: A Fun Night Out? It’s a SLAM Dunk

February 07, 2012 at 4:00 am

Storyteller Catie Curtis performs at the "Jokers" StorySLAM on Oct. 11, 2011, at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. Photo by Sarah Stacke.

If you’re looking for a fun night out, I would recommend attending a Moth StorySLAM. The Moth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the craft of storytelling. They organizes competitions at different venues in New York City throughout the year; past venues have included Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in SoHo, The Bitter End in Greenwich Village and Southpaw in Brooklyn.

It works almost like an open mic. Anyone who wants to tell a true (and hopefully entertaining) story about their life puts their name in a hat. Ten people are chosen at random to tell their stories on stage and they get five minutes each. Yes, some people can tell crummy stories, but it’s rare because there’s something endlessly fascinating about listening to a person open up about a genuine experience they’ve had.

Each StorySLAM is organized around a theme. For example, the Valentine’s Day show is called “Love Hurts.” Volunteers from the audience give each story a score from one to 10 and the winning storyteller goes on to compete at a GrandSLAM even, which is organized once every few weeks. (The next one is Mar. 6 at The Highline Ballroom.)

It’s a great way to get a slice of New York and the audiences tend to be super supportive. The group of storytellers is always diverse — people of different ages and backgrounds — it’s not just hipsters from Brooklyn. The Moth also records the stories and distributes them via podcast.

At around $8, the ticket prices are really affordable and the stories are often very funny and poignant. People leave with something to chew on. It’s a fulfilling way to spend an evening.

Ophira Eisenberg is a comic and writer who has appeared on Comedy Central, VH-1 and was selected as one of New York Magazine’s top 10 new comics. She is the host of NPR’s new trivia and puzzle show, “Ask Me Another.”

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