There are a handful of ways to get a good, live story — true or made up — around the city. We've always celebrated great storytellers in New Orleans, and the pleasure we get from being part of a crowd and listening to a single orator seems to be encrypted in our Louisiana DNA. The story trade is cheap — often free — and it's a great way to experience the tension and denouement of real life without having to do any real living yourself. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Most of these storytelling venues are always looking for new storytellers, and that's always free.
The Moth StorySLAM invites anyone to sign up to tell a true, five-minute story based on a chosen theme. You also can sign up to be a volunteer judge. Names are picked out of a hat and the people chosen are called to tell stories onstage with a microphone, under a spotlight and without notes. It typically goes down at Cafe Istanbul (2372 St. Claude Ave.; www.cafeistanbulnola.com). Admission is $8, but think of it as a two-hour-long movie, except with true stories that real people have shaped and crafted to tell onstage. A winner, determined at the end of the night, goes on to compete against the year's other winners in a GrandSLAM championship.
A free, more casual version of the Moth StorySLAM is Bring Your Own (BYO), which invites seven storytellers to tell seven-minute-long stories based on a theme. The event is pop-up, so the time and place are sporadic and announced on BYO's website, www.bringyourownstories.com. There's no stage at the event, which is always held outside. You can sign up to tell stories via email beforehand, and storytellers are selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Judges are randomly chosen from the audience, and they choose a winner. The winner gets to pick the next theme and his or her story produced and aired on WWNO.
The Megaphone Show at The New Movement Theater (1919 Burgundy St., 504-302-8264; www.tnmcomedy.com) is more than just improv comedy. Each improv scene is inspired by the favorite, true stories of a local guest monologist. Admission is $8.
In addition to true live stories, there also are plenty of untrue live stories being told around town, mostly at local bookstores. Admission to author readings is often free, and some offer wine and cheese so audiences can settle into some good literature read aloud by the person who wrote it. Maple Street Book Shop (www.maplestreetbookshop.com), Octavia Books (www.octaviabooks.com) and Garden District Book Shop (www.gardendistrictbookshop.com) have up-to-date author events on their websites.
For a free but different kind of story altogether, the Poetry Brothel's Hotline (504-264-1336) from 8 p.m. to midnight every Thursday has a person who will read a poem to callers over the phone.
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