Chris Lundy has been voted Audience Favorite at every StorySlam he ever attended as a contestant, including the 15th Season Grand Slam. For those of you who have taken to the stage with stories of your own, you know that’s no small feat!
Seeing Chris’ talent, we invited him to pitch us a story for a chance to perform alongside Grammy Award-winning recording artist Bilal, and hip-hop artist Freeway in BEyond Expectations: Engaging Males of Color as part of the 14th Annual First Person Arts Festival presented by PNC Arts Alive. Chris’s story pitch, a heartfelt tale about growing up with a father in prison, and rebuilding his life after losing his mother, was just the inspiring story the show needed.
At BEyond Expectations, Chris captivated over 600 attendees, and shined right alongside the celebrity storytellers. Click to watch.
From monthly StorySlams to the main stage, it’s been clear that Chris is a hit with audiences, and a natural performer. We’ve enjoyed his stories so much, and have decided to make Chris Lundy our dedicated host for all of our StorySlams at World Cafe Live!
FPA: Chris, you are a man who loves his hats. What is the best kind of hat to wear to a StorySlam? Is this a different style hat than, say, a hat you’d wear to take a stroll in a park?
CL: My hat is definitely my sidekick; a mainstay. I think a sombrero would be ideal for a StorySlam. You run the risk of obstructing other people’s view, but hey…YOLO (You Only Live Once). For a stroll in the park, a car ride, or a shower, you’ll probably find me in my signature newsboy cap.
FPA: What’s your favorite story to tell at a party and why?
CL: Any story about me striking out with a girl. There’s so many to pick from and each is embarrassingly hilarious. Fun for all…except me, I guess. Ouch. Can I change my answer?
FPA: What would you say to someone who secretly wanted to get up on stage and tell a story, but might be a little nervous or on the fence?
CL: DO IT! Everybody’s nervous. You’re not alone. You won’t regret telling your story; but you’ll probably regret NOT telling your story. Also, the FPA crowd is so warm, accepting, and non-judgmental. Take the leap and they’ll catch you. I’ve seen it.
FPA: What was your favorite prize (other than the $100 prize) that you’ve ever given away to a performer on stage?
CL: A storyteller once told a hysterical story involving a swim meet, her mom, and pubic hair. As a prize, I grabbed a mustache refrigerator magnet and didn’t even get a word out before the audience burst into laughter! They knew exactly what I was getting at; I didn’t have to say a word. It took a while for us to gather ourselves and move on with the show.
FPA: Give our performers a storytelling tip!
CL: Tell your story just like you would at a party among friends. Forget the stage. Forget the microphone. Forget the lights. Follow that rule and the rest will follow.
FPA: What’s your dream theme?
CL: “WTF?!” One of the most recognizable acronyms of the social media age. There’s a ton of creative freedom within that theme. But whichever way the storyteller chooses to go, it’s guaranteed to be captivating!
FPA: Do you have any message/advice you’d like to say to the audience judges?
CL: First of all, thank you. A judge’s job is tough! Everyone else gets to keep their scores private while yours are on front street. Not easy. Be mindful of the contest rules (time limit, theme, beginning, middle, end structure, etc.) and judge accordingly. Remember, it’s a competition.
FPA: What do you love most about hosting FPA StorySlams?
CL: The culture. FPA feels like family. There are no strangers at FPA StorySlams, just friends and family. If you happen to spot a stranger, report them immediately…or buy them a drink. Either is fine.
FPA: Do you ever get butterflies before going up on stage?
CL: Every. Single. Time. And I love it! If I’m nervous, it means I’m pushing my limits. It means I left my comfort zone about a mile back. And that’s a good thing.
FPA: People might not know this, but the only Slams you go to or perform in are First Person Arts Slams. Why are you so loyal to First Person Arts Slams?
CL: The family culture breeds loyalty. If this were Game of Thrones, I’d be Lord Lundy of House FPA. Winter is coming. Oh, and I love watching our storytellers progress as they go from nervous newcomers to polished storytellers. Makes me proud.
FPA: What should audiences know about you that they might not already know?
CL: I’ve never lost to an American in ping-pong.
First Person Arts presents Philadelphia’s premiere StorySlams 2nd Mondays at World Cafe Live and 4th Tuesdays at L’Etage. For more info about you can tell your story, click here.