R. Eric Thomas is such an all-star he has his own playlist on our Youtube channel AND his one-man show, “Will Accept This Friend Request?” is premiering at our First Person Arts Festival this November! What can we say? We're fans!
How did you find out about First Person Arts?
I received an owl when I was 10 years-old. I was living under the Dursley's stairs in the suburbs of London. An owl flew in the window one dark and dreary evening. In its spindly talons it held a flyer for First Person Arts with the cartoon of the guy in the knit cap who is clearly a drug dealer. “Hipsters,” I snorted. “I can tell a better story than that guy.” Turns out that's not true–his tales of blind children learning basket-weaving in Sao Paolo makes me weep every time.
What was the first Slam you ever went to? Did you tell a story?
It was Miseducation at L'Etage. I told a story and won that night! I've tried to remember what that story entailed and I recently found the notes but still can't figure out what I said and why. All I know is it had something to do with a drag queen who looked like Sherman Helmsley, star of The Jeffersons.
What is your favorite story you’ve ever told?
The story I told for the Summer Grand Slam last year, “Show & Tell,” has become a family favorite. My parents figured out what YouTube is and have shown it to literally everyone they've ever met. They feel like celebrities. Personally, I'm a bit partial to my story from “Friends with Benefits.” It became the basis for the show I'm working on for First Person RAW entitled “Will You Accept This Friend Request?”
What is one of your favorite stories that you’ve heard someone else tell at a Slam?
I always love my friend Jake's stories, especially his story of visiting the creation museum for this year's Summer Grand Slam “Out of Place.” I am also totally captivated by Bernardo's storytelling style. His story for “Bad Company” is saved on my YouTube Favorites. He's a master!
What else do you do when you aren’t storytelling?
I bake a lot of cupcakes. Like a lot. Like I think I might have a problem. This week I'm going on the Master Cleanse as part of a experiment for a show I'm developing about the body called “The Keri Strug-gle” and I think I may lose my mind. If I don't, I'll go back to baking. I'm starting a cupcake business called “Emotional Eating”. Every flavor has a story.
Why do you keep coming back to Slams?
It's like having a wildly successful dinner party twice a month. I get to hear insane, heart-warming, funny, unbelievable true stories from such a wide variety of people. That's an experience that can't be found anywhere else in Philadelphia. I've gotten to the point where when someone tells me something interesting–and everyone I've ever met has told me something interesting–I immediately tell them they have to tell it at a Slam. These are awesome events that connect strangers through the power of words. Why would I be anywhere else?