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05/15/2012

Winning Storytellers Divulge Their Tips (Part 1)

With the 2012 Summer Grand Slam just days away, we’ve checked in with our fabulous line-up of this season’s winning storytellers and asked them to each share a a bit of the storytelling wisdom that took that took them all the way to the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts stage where they will compete for the title of “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia” this Saturday night. Over the next few blog posts, we’ll let you in on their insider storytelling tips. Who knows, maybe their advice will help you to win a place of your own in a future Grand Slam spotlight!

First up, here are storytelling tips from Grand Slammers Andrew, Katie, Evan, Shrake, and your host for the evening, Mike. Enjoy the videos of the stories that earned them their spots in this year’s roster.

Andrew: Stories – the best stories – are about when the joke’s been on us… the times we’ve failed. There isn’t much that’s more entertaining or enriching than stories of failure, regret, and humiliation. And nothing in the world is more exhausting than listening to someone’s good news. So be ugly. Be ugly and dopey and vile. Because when you’re ugly, you’re sincere. And sincerity is what makes everyone want to listen.

Andrew, Winning Storyteller – “Your Mom” First Person Arts StorySlam

Katie: The beginning and the end reunite in a moment where people think,
“Oh that’s where she/he was going with that!


Katie, Winning Storyteller – “Identity Crisis” First Person Arts StorySlam


Evan: Just because I’m making people laugh doesn’t mean I’m telling a good story. A story requires cause-and-effect (or cause-and-effect moments/scenes). Stringing together funny anecdotes with some exposition and calling it a story results in failure/audience boredom. Plus, I make sure there’s an actual conclusion to the plot; otherwise, the story gets one of those “And that’s how I got burned” sentences and no one knows it’s time to clap.


Evan, Winning Storyteller – “Around the World” First Person Arts StorySlam


Shrake: Always connect directly with the audience. Acknowledge them! They are human beings.


SM Shrake, Winning Storyteller – “Philly vs. Detroit” First Person Arts StorySlam


Mike: Time goes forward in a straight line and life is lived on many different levels at once. However, to effectively convey a story, whether to strangers or friends, one must break from the linear notion of the regular world and tell their tale in the form of a circle. Why? Because we must remain cognizant that the protagonist is not only the “you” described in the words, but also the “you” encapsulated by mannerisms, word choice and presence. So take the audience on a trip from the stage to the plot of your life, visiting places you describe and sharing moments you’ve lived, but understand the story must end, exactly where it began, with a single voice on a microphone in the present.


Mike, Host – “I Think We’re Alone” First Person Arts StorySlam


-Becca Jennings

Upcoming Events
  • StorySlams – NSFW
  • Date: April 24, 2018
  • Time: 8:00 PM
  • Venue: Fringe Arts Building
  • Location: 140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • May StorySlam – Grand Slam
  • Date: May 22, 2018
  • Time: 8 PM
  • Venue: Fringe Arts Building
  • Location: 140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106