It’s that time of year again! The 2013 StorySlam Theme Contest is here. Past winning themes include “The Ex-Files,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “Almost Famous!” Do you have anything better? Well, if you do, fill out the form below and you could win two free StorySlam tickets! Contest lasts now through August.
Winning Storyteller: Jason Slam Theme: Criminal Story Highlights: Talking thumbs, zoo, parent chaperones, goat rides, missing children, handcuffs
“As a parent chaperone on a school field trip, you have one job and that is returning to the school with the same number of uninjured children that you started with.” –Jason, Winning Storyteller- “Criminal” StorySlam
Our winning storyteller from last night’s Slam, Jason has thrown in the towel after 10 years of working as a public school teacher. His story is a highlight reel of some of the most memorable experiences that contributed to his decision switch career tracks.
Audience Favorite Storyteller: Sean Slam Theme: Criminal Story Highlights: Drunk girls, bros, street fight, multiple lacerations, 911
“Having a car alarm is like having a baby sitter that just prank calls you all the time.” – Sean, Audience Favorite Storyteller – “Criminal” StorySlam
The advantage to living above a parking lot in an area of the city with a bustling night life is you get to share the responsibility of calling the cops with your neighbors. Watch Sean‘s Audience Favorite Story and find out what drove him to make his first-ever 911 call.
Congrats to Jason and Sean! Click here to watch the videos of all of our storyteller performances from last night’s show on the First Person Arts YouTube channel.
The next Slam is Tuesday, July 23rd at L’Etage (6th and Bainbridge Streets). The theme is “Power Trip.” VIP Tickets on sale now! BUY
This past Tuesday, First Person Arts started the day by launching a storytelling podcast. We closed out the day hosting a StorySlam at L’Etage. For those who didn’t get their storytelling fill on Tuesday, we hosted another event on Wednesday night celebrating the podcast premiere. When it comes to storytelling marathons, FPA knows how to bring it!
1.) The FPA Podcast is here!
Over the past couple days the response to Episode 1 of the FPA Podcast has been phenomenal. The first episode features real-life stories from three FPA storytellers: Brady Dale, Diana Spechler, and Yari from the First Person Museum. New podcasts will be released weekly on Tuesdays. Download episodes from our website and listen and subscribe on iTunes.
2.) “On the Road” on the Stage
At Tuesday night’s Slam at L’Etage 19 audience members signed up for a chance to tell a story on the theme “On the Road.” Only 10 of them where picked at random to come up on stage and slam their 5-minute true story. Our winner, Heather was a first-time storyteller. Watch her story below to find out who walks in on her in the truckstop restroom at 4am.
Winning Storyteller, Heather- “On the Road,” First Person Arts StorySlam
Our Audience Favorite storyteller was former Grand Slam contestant, Kitty. Kitty, as regular Slam attendees know, makes her living as a private investigator. On this particular case, Kitty is tracking down three people to interview. All the while it seems she herself is being tracked…by mother nature. Click here for the video of her story.
Congratulations Heather and Kitty!
3.) Party Like There’s a Podcast!
At last night’s Podcast Launch Party, individuals who supported the podcast through our Kickstarter campaign, FPA storytellers, story-lovers, staff, and board members all came together to celebrate the birth of FPA’s newest project: our first podcast. The night featured live performances by popular FPA storytellers Martha Cooney, Brady Dale, Nimisha Ladva, and Marjorie Winther and live music by Acton Bell (Cliff Hall and Karina Kacala). It also featured drinks, catered nibbles, and cake. LOTS of cake.
Missed us this week? Can’t wait for more? Our next event is a Slam at World Cafe Live on Monday, July 8. The theme is “Criminal.” Hope to see you there!
First dates can be tricky. Especially when you have no reference point for what to expect or how to behave aside from what you’ve seen in cartoons and rom coms. This is Daniel’s dilema. And when his date falls asleep on him in the movie theater, he’s pretty sure things aren’t going well. Will Daniel be able to turn the evening around? Find out in his winning story from last night’s Slam. The theme was “Overnight.”
Daniel, Winning Storyteller – First Person Arts StorySlam: “Overnight”
Congratulations, Daniel! Congratulations also to our Audience Favorite Storyteller, Don.Click here for stories from Don and all of our other Slammers who shared their personal stories on the theme “Overnight.”
Thanks to everyone who came out last night. Join us again next time: Tuesday, June 25th at L’Etage (6th and Bainbridge). The theme is “On the Road.”
The countdown continues; We are now just one day out from the biggest storytelling showdown of the season- the Grand Slam. In my last post I introduced you to the first half of our storyteller line-up. Now, let’s continue our countdown of contestants along with the stories that earned them their spots in Friday’s rank.
Contestant 7: Andrew Slam won: “Danger”
Andrew is a self-proclaimed neurotic. So when his train-wreck of a landlady calls him home to deal with a leak in his apartment, Andrew is flooded with fear.
Contestant 8: Hillary Slam won: “Girl Power”
Gender bias still plagues the stand-up comedy scene, and that’s no joke. Hillary must decide whether to stick to her set about colonial reenactors and wind chimes or get down and dirty with her comedy routine for the sake of revenge.
Contestant 9: Kitty Slam won: “Virtue and Vice”
Kitty is a professional investigator who makes her living “off of the infidelity of others.” In her winning story she’s called in to go undercover in order to catch a potential adulterous husband in the act. Everything goes downhill from there, and with a classic twist at the end, assumptions about virtue and vice are turned completely upside-down.
Contestant 10: Michael Slam won: “Crush”
Not many of our Slam stories have titles, but Michael calls his winning tale, “The Great Crush of 42.” He starts out by admitting that “crushes for [him] – [are] like having a cold.” His story revolves around one very special woman and the journey they’ve shared.
Contestant 11: Anthony Slam won: “Geek Out”
Anthony turns to online dating in search of his geektette match. But when he and his date discover their preference in geeky reading material crosses genres, her heart might as well be in a galaxy far, far away.
Katie’s story told of the time she pretended to be a hard-core camper to impress the hot group leader on her community service trip. But with one simple mix up about sanitation procedures her crush might be no longer be a happy camper.
The Grand Slam is currently SOLD OUT. We will be starting a wait list at the door at 7PM. The earlier you arrive at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill St.), the better your chances are for getting into see the show. We will release any unclaimed tickets just before show time.
The Grand Slam is just four days away! Twelve outstanding contestants are scheduled to slam their best true stories on the theme “Power” at Underground Arts this Friday night. But only one will walk away with the title of “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia,” a certificate authenticating the win, a steller microphone trophy (pictured right), and free admission to FPA StorySlams FOR LIFE.
How’d the contestants get here?
Eleven of our twelve contestants slotted to bask in the Grand Slam spotlight this Friday have each won a StorySlam this past season. At each Grand Slam, one spot is reserved for the contestent with the highest “Audience Favorite” score. This time, that storyteller is Katie. Friday she will join the ranks with the other 11 winners to compete for the title.
Meet the Contestants:
Contestant 1: Sean Slam won: “Family Ties”
Every family experiences turbulent times. Sean’s family met theirs on a family vacation spent white water rafting. In his winning story, Sean’s family is faced with the options of surviving their sink or swim moment or abandoning ship.
Contestant 2: Bill Slam won: “Home for the Holidays”
Bill won with a Christmas tale about war, love, and family. He found himself, as a lowly Second Lieutenant, not allowed to visit his family or love of his life over the holidays. The hijinks that follow include a surprise visit and some poison oak.
Contestant 3: Megan Slams won: “Gifts and Giving” and “The Ex-Files”
In Megan’s winning story on the theme “Gifts and Giving,” she tells about the Christmas of 1961, when she got a family promotion to big sister. But a long line of past baby doll mishaps left Megan unsure about whether she was ready for the real deal.
Later in the season Megan went on to win the early show of FPA’s wildly popular anti-Valentine’s Day Slam on the theme “The Ex-Files” with a story about her ex-husband, blue-eyed and fresh out of jail for armed robbery. The first three are no problem for Megan, but she begins to struggle with the last as her husband falls back into his old ways.
Contestant 4: Nimisha Slam won: “Second Chances”
Nimisha’s winning story is an uproarious story about her traditional Indian wedding – to a “nice, Jewish boy from Chicago” instead of the Indian doctor her parents had hoped for. Nimisha’s mother makes Nimisha’s husband-to-be a gift with good intentions, but the outcome is both shocking and hilarious.
Contestant 5: Donald Slam won: “Free”
Donald ditches Houston for a new life in Philly. But will a stranger’s affections be too much for Donald on his journey to the city of brotherly love?
Contestant 6: Steve Slam won: “The Ex-Files” (late show)
Steve won Part 2 of the “Ex-Files” Slam with a deadpan recounting of a truly horrendous first date. There is funnel cake and soda. Later, there is a roller coaster.
Stay tuned for the rest of the Grand Slam line-up and the stories that earned them their place in Friday’s spotlight coming soon.
-Becca Jennings, Marketing Assistant and Abby Holtzman, Marketing Intern
This weekend, Kevin Allison, creator and host of the live storytelling podcast RISK!, will run a two-day storytelling workshop focusing on composing, developing and refining the personal story. As a seasoned comedian, Kevin is a member of MTV’s legendary comedy troupe The State. He has also appeared in Reno 911!, The Ten, VH1′s Best Week Ever, Comedy Central’s Viva Variety and Stella and HBO’s Flight of the Conchords. Clearly he’s an accomplished performer and storyteller, but I was curious to know how he got started working in the field of storytelling. Our interview is below.
JM: Kevin, how did your relationship with FPA begin?
KA: One day FPA’s former Programming Coordinator, Liz Green reached out to me about having lunch and to let me know about FPA. I was so taken aback that there was so much going on in Philadelphia. She was describing these shows that FPA does, supporting people doing performance, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, we should be doing something in conjunction with you guys.” I love to see other organizations doing their own thing. I think it’s a lot healthier when more independent groups dump into the mix because there’s a lot of freedom to be found in doing things independently.
When we finally did a big show with FPA as part of the 11th Annual First Person Arts Festival, I was so impressed with everyone on the staff. Everyone was so eager and helpful and very much behind what RISK! is about. RISK! can sometimes be funky to bring into a new town or theatre because we push the envelope; we’re bound to have a story that could offend some people or just might be so emotionally raw that people aren’t ready for something that challenging. But FPA totally got behind us and said, “Yeah, we want to see how risky some of our storytellers can get.”
It was one of the most magical nights because we had four Philly storytellers plus myself and Janeane Garofalo. There were moments when some audience members were like, “I don’t know what to do. I wasn’t expecting something so loaded.” It was a jam-packed evening of entertainment. I turned to FPA’s Executive Director, Jamie Brunson at that point and said, “We wanna get back here ASAP.”
JM: Talk to me about what these storytelling workshops will offer participants.
KA: There will be people with plenty of experience but who have never done a workshop, so they aren’t aware of the techniques that can be employed. Then there will be people who have no performing skills, who work 9-5 and they will be the person that blows everyone away. Storytelling is about your personal best. It’s so much about letting go of your inhibitions and allowing yourself to invest all the feelings, the memories, the vividness of the experience. Letting it be just as traumatic as it was at the time. It’s okay to lower your voice and slow down and maybe even cry a little bit if you come to a point in the story that fits that. If your story is about a time when you were completely a nervous wreck–it’s okay to let your storytelling be a little nervous and bouncing off the walls. It’s about encouraging people to see that your actual personality is enough to ride on, you don’t have to become some sort of master thespian; you just have to live in it.
JM: What makes for a good story?
KA: A lot of people forget that you don’t just generalize and summarize. A lot of people think, “oh it’s best to keep this as summarized as possible so it’s not getting specific and people can understand what I’m talking about and I’m not wasting anyone’s time.” In fact, we really want you to get into what was so distinct about how things looked or what the sensations going on in your body were or how a sound struck a chord in you. We want all of those sensory details; we want you to, when you get to a point in the story that was particularly significant to you, give us the play-by-play of what you were saying, hearing, thinking, and feeling. I want to teach people to get into the juicy details and really paint the picture of what it was like.
JM: How would you recommend getting started to someone wanting to tell a story?
KA: I always say the first place to look when crafting a story are your emotions. I always encourage people to think: what were the times in my life when I was most terrified? Most giddy? Head over heels in love? So excited and inspired by a new opportunity? Filled with shame or embarrassment? To get people thinking in those terms. A lot of times the big thing people struggle with is distinguishing an anecdote from a full. Once you’ve zeroed in on the emotion, then you need to start asking “how” and “why” questions. Why was I away from home that day? How did I learn the news about my dog dying? A lot of it will start coming back to you; you’ll be totally surprised–when you start composing a story,
I’m always amazed at little memories that pop up because they are the “hows” and “whys” that bridge everything together. Even after going through that process, you might realize, no, the day my dog died isn’t right, there’s not enough there, but it might occur to you after asking those questions how that incident is part of a larger story. It might be “incident no. 2″ in a three part story.
JM: What will a first-time storyteller take away from these workshops?
KA: When you first start telling stories, it does strike you how therapeutic it is because you start re-living and making sense of events. It’s a necessary part of life to re-live things we’ve been through and process them a little more now that we have some time away from them. To say, “Oh yeah that changed me” or “I can learn new things from that based on the situation I’m in right now.” What you don’t expect is once you share the story, it’s no longer just about you. Then people start coming to you and saying “I heard your story and it inspired me to call my mother” and you realize your story was a jumping off point for other people’s stories. That is when some of us become storytellers–that is the real soul food, the story takes on a life of its own in the lives of others.
JM: What is your favorite part about these workshops?
KA: I’ve been teaching monthly workshops since I started RISK! in August of 2009. It took me by surprise how much I loved the teaching because now my life is continually enriched by hearing other people’s stories. There’s something that’s very humbling and a great honor to be on the receiving end as a coach of people trying some of this stuff out for the first time. I do feel like a therapist sometimes in that people will come to me with very loaded stuff. We spend so much time in our head and the time in our heads can get very negative and then it’ll be time to sit down with someone over Skype and I’ll just get lost listening to someone for a while. There’s something enormously therapeutic about that–getting out of your head, living vicariously and understanding another person’s experience and feelings. There’s something so therapeutic about listening.
The Philly workshops can be especially emotional because everyone’s aware that they only have 2 days to do something, so they bring their all. The first day is spent talking about various principles, various techniques, a person is workshopping one story throughout the day. The next day we meet is like a show, each person telling their story and getting feedback from everyone in the room. It’s the first time we hear the entire story. It can be such an emotional couple of hours. I would like to figure out, as the story studio goes on, how people can stay involved and continue to connect to one another because on the second day everyone will leave saying, “Oh we’re all family now!” I want to find a way to facilitate more of that, give them more opportunities to stay together and try new stuff.
JM: What have you learned from doing these workshops?
KA: In fact, we all have an unlimited amount of stories. The things you learn in the workshop about how to make things more vivid, how to trigger emotions–I’ll hear from HR a couple days later, Frank used to be so shy and unable to communicate the most basic thing but after going through that workshop, he has loosened up. That’s what I love to hear! That people realize that everything that we teach can be applied to even just chit-chat over lunch. It’s all very applicable to the rest of your life.
JM: If you’ve missed out on these workshops, what other options are there?
KA: The Story Studio has one-on-one coaching over Skype. I’m often meeting with someone one-on-one and coaching them through storytelling. We have our video lecture course, which you can take in your own time by watching the videos. There are a lot of opportunities even when we’re not in town.
FPA fans know twice-monthly StorySlams = good times. So we asked ourselves, what if there was a way to wrap up all the Slam fun, laughs, and “realness” so that you can take the Slam experience with you anywhere you’d like?
We’re trying to start a new storytelling podcast, the First Person Arts Podcast, in fact. “FPA’s vision is to be a platform for artists and everyday people to share the personal stories they must tell now,” says Jamie J. Brunson (pictured left), First Person Arts Executive Director and Podcast Host. “The FPA Podcast is a powerful way to amplify these stories throughout the region and the world, and connect us through our unique and shared experiences.”
FPA is trying to make it happen through a Kickstarter campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise enough money so we can hire award-winning radio producer and First Person Arts fan, Yowei Shaw (pictured right), and provide additional tech support for a full year’s worth of podcasts- 52 episodes in all. Yowei has produced segments for Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Studio 360, Morning Edition and more.
“It boils down to one thing,” says Shaw, “if you love to hear stories that entertain you, make you laugh and cry, and teach you something about the way the world works, then you should definitely support an FPA podcast. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from watching an FPA StorySlam feeling this elevated sense of awareness and genuine human connection. I thrive on that stuff. And if you do too, this is the podcast to support.”
If funded, the podcast will feature stories from our live events as well as fresh stories submitted through a hotline. Anyone can call in with their story. That means we could be hearing stories from places like Charleston, Austin, Detroit, Portland, you name it! Maybe even from around the world?
So far, the project has generated a lot of buzz among FPA fans, storytellers, and story-lovers alike. With 14 days remaining in the campaign, we’ve raised over $2,600 towards our $15,000 goal. But we need to raise the full $15,000 or else we lose all of the money raised so far. And a gift from you at any size helps reach that goal!
Project backers are eligible to receive rewards like an exclusive invitation to the FPA Podcast launch party, original artwork, free Slam admission, and more.
We believe that everyone has a story to tell and sharing those stories connects us with each other and the world. Help us make those connections even stronger by joining the 70+ others who have said “yes” to a First Person Arts podcast.
Michael’s had a lot of crushes in his life. In fact, he’s had so many that he likens having a crush on someone to having a cold. It makes sense really, to liken a crush to an infectious germ invasion that high-jacks your body and your ability to think clearly.
Michael was a first-time Slam attendee, but that didn’t stop him from putting his name in the bucket for a chance to get up on stage and tell a story on the night’s theme, “Crush.” Michael’s story was a heart-felt tribute to his crush of 42 years who faithfully cheered him on from the bar amidst the packed crowd at World Cafe Live. He told about how over the years, despite regrets, hard times, and two marriages, what he can only describe as “good omens” have kept pointing him back to his true love.
Michael won in a tie break against frequent FPA storyteller, Marjorie. Click here to watch them vie in a story-off on the theme “Mistake.”
Winning Storyteller, Michael – First Person Arts StorySlam – “Crush”
Congratulations Michael! Congrats also to Audience Favorite Storyteller, Katie. Katie’s story told of the time she pretended to be a hard-core camper to impress the hot group leader on her community service trip. But with one simple mix up about sanitation procedures her crush might be no longer be a happy camper. Click here to watch Katie’s Audience Favorite story.
Join us for the next and FINAL Slam of the season: Tuesday, April 23
Theme: Geek Out
Location: L’Etage (6th and Bainbridge Streets)
Time: Doors at 7:30PM, Slam starts at 8:30PM Want to skip the line and guarantee a seat in the front 2 rows?BUY your VIP tix today!
Kitty’s in the business of other peoples infidelities. That is to say, she’s a private investigator. So, when she told the packed crowd at last night’s Slam about the time she was hired by the “Church Lady” to go undercover, Dana Carvey’s 1990′s comedy routine came to my mind. You remember… “Well isn’t that special?!”
Carvey’s sketch character pretty much sums up the woman from Kitty’s story- your iconic personification of virtue complete with orthopedic oxfords. In her story, the “Church Lady” hires Kitty to snoop on her husband who she suspects is not as virtuous as she.
How many sinners will turn up by the end of Kitty’s story? The answer may surprise you. Watch the video of her winning performance from last night’s Slam below.
Winning Storyteller, Kitty: “Virtue and Vice” StorySlam
Congratulations Kitty! Congratulations also to Audience Favorite, Steve. Tune into the First Person Arts YouTube channel to watch videos from Steve and all of our other storytellers from last night. The theme was “Virtue and Vice.”
Join us next time:
Monday, April 8: Crush
World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.)
$10 at the door, $8 for FPA members