The Moth Story Slam comes to the Twin Cities

The Moth Story Slam comes to the Twin Cities

The Moth, born in New York City in 1997, moved performance storytelling from folksy yarns and traditional tales toward a more personal and modern tone.

Along the way, it brought the genre to millions of new audiences, and drew performances from folks not previously thought of as storytellers, like Molly Ringwald, Ethan Hawke, Moby, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

Story slams -- competitive storytelling in which participants are judged numerically by selected audience members -- form the core of the Moth model. The premise is simple: Get butts in seats with the promise of a struggle, then keep them coming back with great performances. It's worked not only in the big three (New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago) but in Louisville, Boston, Milwaukee, and beyond.

The Twin Cities slam will work the same way. Show up early, put your name in the hat, and you could be the next performer behind the microphone. If you win, you'll be put on the list for the Grand Slam, to be held at a bigger venue once 10 monthly winners have been selected.

Minnesota has long had a vibrant storytelling community -- we've even boasted a successful locally-grown story slam of our own for three years. So why has it taken the Moth so long to get here?

The volume of storytelling already happening in the Twin Cities was partially to blame for the delay. "You have a really cool storytelling scene and lots of events, so we were very careful not to schedule on top of those," says Jenifer Hixson, senior producer at the Moth.

Another complication, she says, is that the Moth model requires the cooperation of local radio -- in this case, MPR, which will air stories from the local Moth -- and the details of that arrangement took some time to put in place.

Hixson hopes that folks will come prepared to tell on opening night, recalling launches in other cities that featured a mix of first-time tellers that even included firemen and strippers.

"This is an art that anyone can do," she says.

Neil Gaiman at the Moth:


The Moth Story Slam: Secrets
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 30
$8 Amsterdam
6 W. Sixth St., St. Paul
More info at

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