Moth StorySLAM, Tangier, 7/1/08
Now I Know What You’re Thinking, But
by Seth Pierson
Observation: The term “slam” conjures two images: a multi-headed hydra of shitty improv “poetry” that sounds an awful lot like lame hip-hop, and a delicious Denny’s menu selection.
The Moth StorySLAM, first Tuesdays each month at the club Tangier, has qualities of the finest species of events in Los Feliz. It’s affordable ($6 cover) and fun, and it spins an idea that could be exclusive into a uniquely participatory event.
It sounds either twee or obstinately hipster: an open-mic vaguely competitive and intimate storytelling show at the dinner club Tangier (Los Feliz Blvd. and Hillhurst). Not to mention the show is the younger sibling of a curated and older Moth that is a six-year strong fixture in New York, with captivating podcasts and CDs of the best stories at www.themoth.org.
Chart-topping pretension potential.
But 7:30 pm came, and off went ten members from the audience, their self-submitted names drawn from a bag at random. The show demonstrated why “slamming” (ref. Observation) should be ignored in every iteration but storytelling and hangover breakfasts.
Stories are for everyone: modern egalitarian art. They’re words everyone knows arranged into structures everyone recognizes, whether verbal or written, televised or sung. All people have stories and StorySLAM is for any of them with $6 in cash. Anyone can tell a story though not everyone will, and three teams of audience judges score stories like Olympic lutzes: down to the decimal.
Diverse isn’t the word to describe the participants because they weren’t, in that nearly all had a decent-to-great story. From a seeming 17-year old who stood like a von Trapp child (clasped hands and all) and nerded out about Russia while her proud parents looked on, to the oppressive authority figures that guest star in all of our stories and most of theirs, this month’s theme of “Discipline” was handled in surprising ways. The audience was deferential and encouraging, but aware enough to smell the desperation of a performer practically begging for chuckles. Regular host Brian Finkelstein’s wit kept the atmosphere brisk but loose.
The prize last night went to multiple-champ Raimey, who after the show explained that she is bicoastal with family in NYC. For her the community of Moth’s StorySLAM regulars bridges two very separate places, a logical perception. Where the story is the thing, community is an immediate and altruistic by-product.
-Text and photos by Seth Pierson