Last Wednesday the literary folk took over Hollywood. Fans and supporters of The Moth and KCRW gathered at the Avalon for The Moth’s Mainstage event, Carpe Diem: Stories of Our Most Vital Moments. Five storytellers hosted by comic Brian Finkelstein and accompanied by violinist Andrea Baker took the stage, bringing the audience from astonishment, to tears, laughter and back again.
The Moth is a storytelling organization founded in New York by poet and novelist George Dawes Green in 1997. Over the past 15 years, the Moth has grown from its New York beginnings to include regular events and workshops in ten cities across the United States, from Los Angeles to Milwaukee and Louisville, and an extremely well-received podcast. Moth storytellers aren’t all the writers and performers you would expect to hear stories from – they’re ordinary people, telling honest stories about extraordinary moments in their lives, from memory. Online you can find performances from Al Sharpton, Molly Ringwald, Adam Gopnick and Malcolm Gladwell – and that’s only looking back to October.
The storytelling crew last night was comprised of an emergency physician, writer, an extreme explorer, an actor and a comic. Pha Le captured the audience with his family’s tale of escape from Vietnam. Kemp Powers brought the room to tears with the unfortunate story of a teenage mistake turned deadly, and how he has dealt with the guilt of accidentally killing his best friend. Joby Ogwyn made all of Los Angeles feel lazy and unaccomplished as he recalled a thrilling adventure climbing Mt. Everest in less than a day with minimal oxygen. Denise Panzienti told a heartwarming – and terrifying – story about how kindness and Buddhist faith and chanting saved her life. Tig Notaro described her relationship with her stepfather, and the death of her mother.
If you’re interested in learning more about happenings with KCRW and The Moth in Los Angeles, check out their events page here. You can catch their “Aftermath” themed StorySLAM tonight at Busby’s East for $8, or hang tight until next week for a “Hope” themed StorySLAM at Los Globos in Silverlake. Both events sponsored by the wonderful KCRW, and both events restricted to those 21+.