A Slam Dunk
I’ve been wanting to go to a Story Slam for a while – ever since I met a guy on the train on the way from New York City to Connecticut. Nothing materialized with the guy (Damn, because he was hot as hell!), but we chatted for the entire fifty-minute ride – about my work as a writer, his work as a teacher, and our shared love of stories.
“Have you ever been to a Story Slam before?” he wanted to know.
I’d never even heard of a Story Slam before, and, once he explained what they were, I knew I needed to go.
That was two years ago, and for some reason I filed the info in the back of my brain and didn’t retrieve it until a month or so ago when my friend and fellow author, Heidi, and I got together.
Everyone should have a friend like Heidi. As the author of the forthcoming book, Confessions of 400 Men, she is a wealth of information about the relative workings of the male mind. We talk about everything from writing projects to blow jobs (Both are fun in the beginning, but quickly leave you wondering When will this be over?). As we were strolling through Chestnut Hill one Saturday morning, Heidi and I somehow meandered onto the subject of Story Slams.
“We have to go!” she told me. “Set it up, and I’m there.”
A month later (last night), we met at FringeArts on North Columbus Boulevard to watch a bunch of strangers divulge the intimate details of their lives – on stage – then be judged for it afterwards.
The theme of the night was hairy.
I had no idea how it worked, but I soon found out that people would arrive, put their names in a hat, then sit in the audience to watch the show. Ten of these spectators were then randomly selected, and called up on stage, to talk about their take on the designated subject. I watched, spellbound, as these impromptu entertainers delivered five-minute monologues about everything from actual hair (body, head, human, animal) to “hairy” situations. One guy even told a story about a rabbit.
Most tales were humorous, although there was a smattering of tragedy thrown in for good measure, and found myself laughing a lot. By far, the best performance of the night was from a guy named Greg who received a unanimous perfect score.
“This is gonna get weird,” Greg said when the MC called him up on stage.
He then proceeded to take off his shirt, revealing massive quantities of back and body hair. Then, Greg told us a story about shame and hair that left us all in stitches and made me want to perform at some point (although I plan to keep my shirt on).
As an author, telling stories is perhaps my favorite thing to do, and, as a current improv artist and former actress, being on stage in front of a crowd full of people, getting them to laugh, lights me up inside – especially if I’m able to light them up. So I find myself inspired and enthusiastic and ready to embark on yet another hobby. The next Story Slam I go to, I plan to throw my hat in the ring – or my name in the hat. Whatever. You get the point. I’ll participate (if picked), as opposed to sitting in the audience, watching. Because life is meant to be hairy and embarrassing and because, as I thought last night, surrounded by strangers, who took to the stage, we’ve all got a story to tell.