The Moth StorySLAM was a hit!
If you’ve never heard of Moth, this is how StorySLAMs work:
StorySLAMs are a night of storytelling. Ten brave souls volunteer to tell a five-minute story, which are given scores. The story crowned with the highest score moves on to compete at the Moth Grand Slam. In between each five-minute story, there are also story slips (strips?), which are anonymous 140-character micro stories that are shared in between each storyteller. The story slip prompt was, tell us about a time the mask came off.
“True stories. Told. Live. No costumes, props, visual aids.”
The theme of the night was Costumes. This compiled into stories about prized garments, wigs, dyed hair, Halloween, costumes for the sake of survival, and revealing your true self.
In a way, the clothes we wear are our daily costume, as the event had described. As soon as the host, Amir, described his attire as “recently fired from Hogwarts,” I knew the night could only be going good places.
My friend Isabel and I wrote our story slips with her copywriter skills obliterating my wordy ramble.
Being one of the youngest people in the room, with big fat sharpied Xs profaning both of my hands, it felt weird to see all the adults of Ann Arbor sip their cocktails on my left and right, laughing boisterously at the host’s jokes. It felt like I was at the filming of a sitcom. All the laughs felt fake, like someone pressed a remote and a ‘LAUGH’ sign lit up and cued a sound effect from the audience. I sipped my water and swallowed this new taste of sophisticated fun.
The three teams of judges were specially handpicked from the audience: people who were completely unburdened by expertise, with no experience whatsoever under their belts. At least one person would be telling a part of their lives to an audience for the first time in their lives.
… And the fate of these storytellers was in the hands of judges named The Ghostbusters, The Mothman (“…Moth is a copywriter trade mark” – Amir), and Witch, please.
I’m afraid I can’t do justice to the ten stories that were told, and I wish you could just hear them yourself. To boil it down, there were stories about clown sex, sexy Beetlejuice Halloween attire and hand-me-down tank tops, a fiberglass back brace from the eighties, designing yoga clothes, working with a trauma patient, a lawyer dying her hair, seeing the sea for the first time, misunderstandings from an eyepatch, a pleated drinking skirt named Alice, and a closeted trans woman who played the part of a male pastor for years until she found the freedom of not pretending.
To our complete shock, Isabel’s anonymous story slip was pulled first, mine second. My first Moth experience was off to a great start.
Amir walked up to the mic, unfolded my slip, and read: “I ran over a grandma with a bike. Wheel punched her leg, my chin got chucked. Mask heavy, soaked red, pooled with blood, it fell off.”
Then the room exploded. Amir went on a tangent. “You’re not focused on the right mask, it’s not all about you! You’re worried about your mask when Calin’s (the sexy beetlejuice girl) grandma is lying on the ground, clutching her spaghetti straps, wheezing out her last?!!”
A few more of the good ones:
“When I first met my girlfriend I used to hold my farts. Now that she’s in love with me I toot to my heart’s content.”
“Took him home. We did it. My wig came off.”
By the end of the night I had no idea which story would win; all of them were phenomenal, unexpected, fantastic. A guy did the math on the whiteboard. We drumrolled.
…..It was 3-way tie! (A drunken holler of “3-way!!!” from an audience member.) In this scenario, they decided to take the highest individual score, which had been Johanna’s (the ex-pastor and proud trans woman, who no longer bears the burden of being in costume)!
The night ended with a late night Blank Slate run where we ran into the host of the show. We psyched ourselves up to own up to the stories we wrote (Listen Amir… I’m the one who ran over that grandma…), but he grabbed his cone in a brisk blur and the door jingled on his way out, coattail fluttering before it closed shut. The universe didn’t want us to confess.
I’ll definitely be joining the next StorySLAM in November! There’s no telling how the night will go with Moth, where its wispy wings might take you. The clown sex story is a testament to that.