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Storytelling with a Twist at The Moth

Stories. We all have them. From the embarrassing to the almost-going-to-wet-yourself hysterical, the somber yarns and the poignant narrative, they make up our personal history. The Moth StorySLAMS is where these stories go to come alive. Or, die a very painful death.

Hosted by Alex Trajano and WDET, the StorySLAMS take place at Cliff Bell’s on the first Thursday of every month. There is a new theme every month and the stories must fit the theme.

The theme for August was “heat.” I didn’t have a good “heat” story. Well, except for the fact that when I was a kid my parents didn’t wash my mouth out with soap when I talked back or said a bad word like normal parents. No, I got a tablespoon of Tabasco sauce on the tongue. Did I mention I don’t like spicy food?

I’m really bummed that I missed the night when “scar” was the theme. I have a great scar story!

How does it work?

If you’re brave enough to tell your own story, you simply throw your name into the bag and wait. If you’re a chicken like me you just sit back and enjoy the evening. You can also anonymously write down your (very short) story and Alex might read it during the evening.

Ten people are chosen randomly to tell their story and they are judged immediately by three groups of judges in the audience.  The storytellers don’t know in advance if they will be chosen. After each story is told, the next person is picked out of the bag. Such tension and anticipation for those who threw their names in the bag!

One of the bartenders at Cliff Bell’s was the first person chosen. She told a rollicking good tale about the dangers of flirting in the vicinity of Southern Comfort and candles.

Two stories really stood out from the crowd. A very small, young woman told her strange story of being struck by lightening and being in a plane that caught fire in the same week.

Also, a man told his take on working in the heat of the Pittsburgh steel mills in 1970, the summer after he graduated high school. His boss and coworkers were horrible to him and it wasn’t until the end of the summer that he found out he was set up by his dad. They were purposely being awful to him so he wouldn’t change his mind about going to college.

Robin Givhan, a native Detroiter who is now the fashion editor of The Washington Post, was also in the house and talked about going to the White House to meet First Lady Michelle Obama in the inferno that is the summer in Washington D.C. As she was leaving, she realized she had a huge sweat stain on her backside.

The guy who won? Meh. It sounded like an internet story that gets passed around forever.

If you're desperate to tell your story or if you're just looking for something different to do, head to Cliff Bell’s for The Moth StorySLAMS.

What you should know:

  • Get there early unless you want to stand in line or be turned away!
  • It was Standing Room Only when we were there and we were packed in like sardines. If you don’t like crowds this isn’t the place you want to be.
  • Cover is $5 and their brand new happy hour menu isn’t served when The Moth is there.
  • Upcoming themes: September is “backfired,” October is “near death,” and November is “secrets.”
  • There is a GrandSLAM SLAMoff featuring the last 10 winners at The Gem Theatre on September 23rd.

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Reader Comments (5)

I was at this month's Moth! I am so glad you featured it on your site :) I liked the winner this month, though. It did sound like a ridiculous story, it kept my attention and made me laugh. See you next month!

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTrista

Ha! Small world. The winner was funny but I didn't buy his story. You know, when someone starts a story, "this happened to a friend of mine," it just doesn't ring true. Glad you had a good time! Did you put your name in to tell a story?

August 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I've heard of this event many times and I'm dying to go. However, someone told me that it's a 21+ kind of affair? Bummer for the 20 years and 6 month olds out there (me. lol) :(

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterT.

Yep, it is at a bar but I thought someone in the audience was 18 when I was there. (The host was having a conversation with an audience member.) It's certainly worth a phone call to Cliff Bell's. Otherwise, 6 months isn't that long to wait. ;-)

August 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Great story, I miss the D big time! Detroit is and always will be my heart even though I no longer live there it never leaves me and Go Detroit Lions football!!!

May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikel

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