What Is Moth StorySLAM?

I am frequently asked all sorts of questions, and this brief article will help explain the basics. The Moth has a number of live events and programs and it can be confusing since there is variety.

My passion is attending and performing in StorySLAMs. These are live storytelling events held in community spaces all over the world. Portland is blessed to have two different venues each month. Each event has a pre-arranged topic.

At these venues, ten people are randomly chosen from a pool of volunteer storytellers to tell a story in five to six minutes. These are true stories, with personal stakes, and has a beginning, middle, and an end. The storyteller can’t rely on any notes or props, except for themselves! Random selection creates a dynamic tension because the storyteller and audience do not know who will be selected next, especially if there are more than ten people in the pool. As a storyteller, I know it can be downright nerve-racking because you come prepared to share a story, and you do not know if you will tell it at all, and if you do, when!

Immediately following your story you are judged on your performance! Yup, that's right. And, that too is random. Three teams of judges are randomly selected from audience members just prior to the start of the show. Each team rates the storyteller and the scores are tallied and averaged. It's like the Olympics, but the judges aren’t professionals, and sometimes they don’t follow the rules! What an adrenaline rush.

The storyteller with the highest score will then advance to a future Moth GrandSLAM! These are usually held a few times per year at the Aladdin Theater. Unlike a StorySLAM, these already have the storytellers pre-selected (previous winners) and presented to the audience with a program that gives their bios. It's a more formal affair, with a completely different topic from what the StorySLAM they may have won. There are still the three sets of judges. Since all of these storytellers have already won at a StorySlam, some more than once, they are all accomplished in their own right. The winner of this event gets major bragging rights!

I have been participating in the Moth StorySLAMs since my debut in Louisville in 2012. I typically place second or third. It is my dream to place first and compete in a GrandSLAM! Stick around, I might just do that!

For a good overview of The Moth, I suggest checking out their website.