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Preview: The Moth GrandSLAM 

The city’s best storytellers duke it out at the Joy Theater Jan. 29

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Dozens of amateur storytellers compete at monthly Moth StorySLAM competitions at Cafe Istanbul, and winners from the past year move to the big stage Thursday at the Joy Theater for the Moth GrandSLAM.

  "The Moth always does this situation where it's just ordinary people that are getting up and telling stories and kind of taking the stage and becoming a performer for a night," says local producer Laine Kaplan-Levenson. "I feel like what's so special about the GrandSLAM is that, although Cafe Istanbul is a great venue for us on a month-to-month basis, it will be those same ordinary people standing on the stage of the Joy Theater ... and they're not famous."

  The Moth StorySLAM is a live storytelling competition hosted by WWNO- FM. On Thursday, The Moth presents the best of the best, with 10 winners from events held over the past year duking it out for the title of champion.

  The standard Moth format applies: Contestants get five minutes to tell a story and selected audience members serve as judges. Every Moth event has a theme, and Thursday's is "Fish out of water." During monthly competitions, storytellers can sign up to tell a story based on whether they like the theme, but in the championship, winners already are signed up, and they have to tell a true story that fits it.

  The Moth is a national nonprofit that facilitates different kinds of storytelling events and airs selected stories on its podcast and on The Moth Radio Hour. The StorySLAM takes place in cities around the country, and some winning stories appear on The Moth's podcast and radio show aired on National Public Radio affiliates. Kaplan-Levenson says no New Orleans storytellers have made it on the air yet.

  Competing for the title Thursday are Bryan Davis, Aubrey Edwards, Autumn Fawn, Alida Glass, Maggie Hadleigh-West, Stevie Long, Colleen McLellan, John Menszer, Meghan Shapiro and Chris Turgeon. David Crabb, a writer, storyteller and two-time storySLAM winner based in New York City, will host. Tickets are $20 and are available at the box office and online at www.themoth.org/events.

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