Pet Recordings

Sounds people made about pets.

Here are the individual recordings of all the throat and throaty noises people made about pets at Arboretum Cohousing in March.

Reach into this bag and you’ll grab a story about chasing your cat while naked, ending your teacher’s pet relationship, a fish funeral, an uppity dogs, snakes named after dildos, surprise snakes, an immortal Tom cats, a cat surprise, a dog that can make you feel differently about all dogs, and getting confused about what constitutes a pet. You can slather all of that with a few micro stories about wild animals.

How to Dismantle a Teacher’s Pet

History with Hamsters by Jolien

Naked Pussy by Anonymous

Goldie by Janet

Pets Micro Stories by Various
Featuring: Terrifying Night for a Cockatiel by Anonymous, Next Time I’ll Bring a Bedpan by Karen, Snakes from Anywhere by Matt, What’s That? by Jen, Bear Den by Brendon, and Cooper Does Not Swim by Anonymous.

Never Been Back Again by Sarah

Steely Dan by Karen

Thomas then Tom by Alison

My First Cat by Jolien

Feeling Differently about Dogs by Jen

Thanks Professors by Joanne

Sarah’s Story by Brendon on behalf of Sarah

Our next event is April 17th at Lakeside Coffee House. The theme is Adventure.

Pets Podcast Part 1

Pets PodcastJust last Friday some people got up on stage to tell stories about their pets, their parents’ pets, their roommates pets, their teachers, and their neighbors at Arboretum Cohousing. We covered dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, cockatiels, goldfish (which along with hamsters are the pets most likely to teach your children about death), and even a few wild animals.

Here’s a podcast about it.

Brendon – How to Dismantle a Teacher’s Pet
Jolien – History with Hamsters
Anonymous – Naked Pussy
Janet – Goldie
Micro story 1 – Terrifying Night for a Cockatiel
Micro story 2 – Next Time I’ll Bring a Bedpan
Micro story 3 – Sankes from Anywhere
Micro story 4 – What’s That?
Micro story 5 – Bear Den
Micro story 6 – Cooper Does Not Swim

Nerd Nite Madison is Looking for Presenters

Nerd Nite uses PowerPoints, but we don’t have to hold it against them.

Nerd NiteWe’ve got you covered one Friday a month, but the leaves a lot of Wednesdays. You should check out our friends Nerd Nite Madison​. Over there they have funny and informative presentations and you get to buy beer at the High Noon Saloon. These presentations are actually funny too, not like your high school science teacher. That guy was not funny. Even better you could sign-up to give a presentation about a nerdy thing you are enthusiastic about. Just follow the link to do the deed.

You can see one of their past presentations over at Tone Madison. Which, you know, is another resource for all kinds of fancy things happening in Madison. All kinds of fancy things that you could use your senses to put inside of yourself where you could make their fanciness part of your being.

Another also is that one time Ben Taylor, the Boss of Nerd Nite (yes, that’s his official title), told a story at one of our events. It was a good one and you should listen to it here. You know it is good because of the way Ben reads all of those dirty words with confidence and a total lack of shame.

Courage Recordings

Something moving about Courage involving the Wizard of Oz and war metaphors.

Courage Recordings

Here are the recordings of the stories from the Courage event we held with Madison Community Discourse. We got together last Friday at Old Sugar Distillery and laid down these tracks for a live audience.

There are stories about squishing pig guts, how demeaning medical care can feel, finding courage within yourself, wishing you would find courage within yourself, proposing, and locked doors. There are also a few microstories about heroes. One involves finding a hero at a Subway station in New York, another involves finding a hero right next to you, the third microstory is about saving a chicken by putting it out of its misery, and finally we have a story about being there.

Guts by Kevin

You’re in the Clear by Brendon

The Courage to be Alone by Tenacious B

My Stepmother’s Pistol by Anonymous

The Proposal by Jen

Courage Microstories by Various
Featuring: Mr. B by Anonymous, Real Hero by Daniel, How to Kill a Chicken by Alex, and Horse Hero by Becky

Locked Doors of Democracy by Jonathan

This event was part of Madison Community Discourse’s Courage Project. They will be hosting more events including a number of story booths around Madison. Pay attention to their Facebook page to find out what those events will be and when and where you can participate.

And even though we have a brand new format for our podcast I love the exquisite corpse format so much I made everyone a bonus Story Corpse track.

Next month we’ll be meeting on March 20th and telling stories about pets.

Courage Podcast Part 1

Courage Event

Last Friday we got together with Madison Community Discourse to tell some stories involving courage at Old Sugar Distillery. We filled their space up with people, which was lovely, and all took part in some alcohol related commerce, which was also lovely. Then we got down to the business of stories.

This is a new format for our podcast. Instead of taking pieces of stories we are giving you the whole of all the stories. That means we’ve had to break the podcast into two parts. Here is the first part and the second part will come out tomorrow.


Kevin – Guts
Brendon – You’re In the Clear
Tenacious B – The Courage to Be Alone
Anonymous – My Stepmother’s Pistol
Jen – The Proposal

Rivalries Recordings

Rivalries are a crucible. Which makes ‘em important because crucibles make things better.

IMG_4861Here are the full stories that our last podcast promised in all of their full length glory.

Here we’ve got stories about rivalries between sort of friends, between a woman and her mix tapes, between partners, between poor wrestlers, and between a Peace Corps Volunteer and her placement’s sex ed policy. After a bit of a hiatus the micro story segment is also regaining popularity. Which is wonderful, because everyone likes a little off the cuff storytelling. This is especially true when those stories are about someone being humiliated. Check those out for a double punch, twin rivalries, and a few stories about trouble at school.

Next month we’ll be at Old Sugar Distillery. We’ll be there on February 20th and we’ll be telling stories about courage. This event will be part of Madison Community Discourse’s six month long courage project. You can find out even more about Madison Community Discourse and what they are doing at their webpage.

Friends of Convenience by Amanda

How Beyonce Taught Me to Forget the Haters by Erica Wojcik

Debate THIS! by Anonymous

Rivalries Micro Stories by Various

Featuring: Smoked by Scott, Control Group for Life by Kevin, 55° by Anonymous, The Answer to Writing an Essay by Brendon, I Didn’t Even Do Anything by Matt, and New Kid by Anonymous.

Dance Crew by Keith

If You Stick Around Long Enough You Can Win by Anonymous

Condoms and Torches by Anoymous

Rivalries Podcast

A Lot of us have won and a lot of us have lost.


Here’s our exquisite corpse preview of our January story night. We’ll post the full stories by next Monday.

Our next story night is February 20th at Old Sugar Distillery. The event is part of Madison Community Discourse’s six month courage project. That project (admittedly all of their projects) are really neat so you should go see what they are up to on their Facebook Page. While you are their tell Mallory that we say “hey.” Make sure you communicate that it is a lower case hey.

Rivalries Podcast

Celebrate Recordings

Because you HAVE to celebrate.

Celebrate Something

Celebrate Something

Here are the full stories that our podcast promised. No pictures this time because our batteries were dead, but the recorder was operated correctly this time so we got all of the stories recorded. This probably means that next time we’ll have everything operating correctly and you will get your full post event media run down.

We celebrated a lot or covered a lot of ways to celebrate. There are even some stories that didn’t have much to celebrate, but that’s okay. You can tell whatever story you want to. If you diverge from the theme no one will react violently, at least not during our event. I can’t vouch for anyone’s conduct after the lights go down and we put away the stage.

Next month we’ll be at the Central Library for another Night Light event. We’ll be there on January 9th and we’ll be telling stories about rivalries. Start thinking about your archenemies and with a little over a month to go you could always make a nemesis (see this article for the distinction between archenemy and nemesis so you know which one you want) to tell a story about.

So Long Shalom by Jess King

My Plan Worked by Brendon Panke

Ho Ho Ho Ho Party by Alison Ahlgrim

Guardian by Peter Boger

Tin Star by Anonymous

Hawaii for Work by Anonymous

This Is The Life by Anonymous

The Arboretum by Keefe Keeley

Celebrate Podcast

Our very second podcast. We promise not to count anymore.

Celebrate Something

Celebrate Something

Here’s our exquisite corpse preview of our December story night. We’ll post the full stories by this Friday.

Our next story night is January 9th at Madison Public Library. The event is part of The Bubbler’s Night Light Series. We’ve done these a couple of times before and they are always lots of fun. Good crowd, good stories, good drinks provided by Underground Food Collective

Celebrate Podcast

Some Questions for a Storyteller: Brendon Panke

Each month or so, we profile a Story Night regular by asking him some questions about himself and his storytelling. This month’s “Some Questions” features storyteller Brendon Panke. Brendon is one of the three Madison Storyteller organizers and MCs our story nights. You can listen to Brendon’s past stories: Flagged, A Band Like Any Other, From November On, and Two Sides of a Bad Smell.

Brendon Panke

1. When and why did you come to Madison?

I moved to Madison in 2005 for grad school and to follow my then girlfriend and now wife, Sarah, who had come to grad school here the year before me. At that point in my life I was spending a lot of time doing whatever Sarah had just got done doing and by moving to where she was doing this stuff it made it look like I was doing the same thing as her instead of whatever she just finished doing.

2. What do you do with your time (when you’re not telling stories)?

Right now I spend my time being in the same place as my year old son. Usually I spend my time picking up whatever he just got done doing. We are part of a cohousing community here in town so I spend a lot of time working for that community in their garden and around their grounds. When I first came to Madison, in addition to spending a lot of time in grad school I also spent a lot of time performing with Atlas Improv Co.

3. What makes you want to tell personal stories in front of strangers and semi-strangers?

I tell stories and listen to stories because it is a fun way to relate to people. Most of my stories I tell because it makes people laugh, but in addition to making people laugh telling those stories also makes me vulnerable and when that vulnerability isn’t abused by the audience and is instead welcomed it makes me feel really great about everyone involved.

By sharing stories from parts of my life that were difficult I can transform those memories into something more positive. It helps me get a handle on parts of my life that are still painful for me. If I can take some painful or difficult memory and tell it to people in a way that makes them laugh their laughter in turn helps me transform my own memories into something more positive. It is something like psychic displacement. Fill a memory with enough positive emotions, even if they are vicarious, and painful emotions are displaced or made easier to deal with.

4. What was the first story you remember telling?

When I was a sophomore in high school I got shot in the eye with a BB gun. Which is still about the most painful experience of my life. Which either says something about just how painful it was or about how little pain I’ve experienced in my life. You’ll have to judge for yourself what my pain tolerance is. A short time after I was shot, probably within a week, I was telling this story to my friends for laughs. I was still wearing an eye patch and taking steroids for my eye at this point. Also, while I could see out of it, if I moved too much the blood and tissue loose in my eye would be shaken up like a snow globe and I wouldn’t be able to see again. I know I was telling stories before this, but this is the first time I remember telling a story to transform it from something horrible into something funny and positive. This is the first time I really remember telling a story well.

5. What is the first story you remember hearing?

I can’t remember the first personal story I remember hearing. My family were always telling stories. Stories from our lives and made up stories about our lives and just made up stories. I remember having this tape of stories my parent’s had recorded off the radio over some period of time, maybe a year or two. When we would go on long car trips I would listen to that story tape over and over again. There was a story on there about a scarred ship captain named Vaago and Vincent Price reading a recipe on how to turn yourself into a werewolf. There was also a story about a drifter who married a woman he met living in the middle of the swamp who turned out to be a cat wearing a woman’s clothes. When I came to grad school I bought a tape deck from this other grad student who I didn’t get along with and brought the tape from home. As soon as I put that story tape into the tape deck it got torn to shreds. Never should have trusted that guy’s tape deck.

6. What are some of your all-time favorite stories from the Madison Storytellers archive?

We have great regular storytellers and I’m always excited when they come back with something new for us. One of our regulars, Daiquiri, told a story, Awash, that I really liked at our event in the library last month. That was a great event and I can listen to most of those stories again and again. The library event before that was really good too. Last month’s theme was Escape and the earlier event’s theme was books. You can find stories from those events and most of the events in the last two years in our Recordings section.

Every month there is usually something good from the micro stories. Back in June there were some great micro stories. Lee Bishop, who used to run Nerd Nite here in town, told one that was a fun glimpse into his personality and my sister told one about a time she crashed a bike. Which is something we have in common since I told a micro story about crashing a dirt bike once.

At our Show-and-Tell event this first time storyteller, Mollie, told a story that I absolutely loved. I really identified with this precise moment of self-awareness that she was able to conjure up.

At our Quitting story night another first time storyteller told a hilarious story about racing the older girl who lived on her block. At our Protest event a late addition, Marty, told a story about leading a protest in his grade school.

Erika, one of the other co-organizers, told the first story I ever heard at a Madison Storytellers event and really loved when she talked about her fear of biking. That’s pretty much when I started coming to Madison Storytellers about a year and a half ago.

Our next Storytelling event will be December 5th at Arboretum Cohousing. The theme is Celebrate! Come tell us about your celebrations and things worth celebrating.

Are you interested in having a story night in your neighborhood? Find a venue and let us know about it. We love to tell stories all over Madison. Give us your ideas: madisonstorytells at gmail dot com.

I Thought I Was Going to Die Recordings

I Thought I Was Going to DieAnd here are the full stories from our I Thought I Was Going to Die event! Most of them anyway. In our post from earlier today I alluded to the number of stories recorded not being equal to the number of stories told. Sadly, I totally messed up by forgeting to clear the memory card on our recorder. That means we ran out of room and missed the excellent stories told by John, Matt, Annie (with Théo), Sam, this guy, and this lady (sorry I don’t know your names this guy and this lady, but I’ve been telling your stories to everyone I meet for the past week if that makes up for it at all). I feel like an ass because I loved the stories that weren’t recorded. I’m sorry I missed recording them, but at least I got to hear them once. I guess we can all learn a lesson about always going to story nights so you don’t completely miss out on really good, funny, and insightful stories.

Here are the stories we did get. Which are also good stories. In the past we’ve hosted the stories on Mix Cloud and then put together a playlist. We’re not doing that anymore since Mix Cloud is weird and doesn’t let you search backwards in the story. Now we’re just giving you individual players for each track AND DOWNLOAD LINKS! Which some of you have been clamoring for. It only takes one to clamor after all. It’s why there is more clamoring than tangoing.

Growing Cedar by Laurel Bastian

The Names Have Been Changed But the Problems are Real by Peter Boger

Accidental Waifest by Adam Rostad

There are No Coincidences by Steel Wagstaff

Something That Happened to Me Today by Glen Frieden

Princess in the Graveyard by Alison Ahlgrim

If you are really disappointed that your story didn’t get recorded you can contact us and we can set up a time to record your story. I’d love to come record your story because it is a good story and you should be proud of it. Everyone should hear it and since literally everyone comes to our site at least once a day we can make sure everyone does hear it.

We’ll let you know when and where the next story night is real soon.

I Thought I Was Going to Die Podcast

Our very first podcast.

Podcast for I Thought I Was Going to DieEveryone! We’re getting into this podcast thing, you may have heard of it. Every month we’ll make a podcast of clips from all of the stories that were told, or recorded in this case, but more on that later. We’ll put them all together in to a sort of exquisite corpse and send it out to everyone because everyone probably wants to hear these stories. This is just a preview of the night, like when you get your 10 second preview at your mp3 purchasing website of choice. The full stories will also be posted here. So without anything further, here is our very first podcast.

Right click to download.

True Stories at the Wisconsin Book Festival

There are a lot of people telling stories from their own lives at the Wisconsin Book Festival this year. The festival starts on Thursday and since you’re all very busy folks we collected some of the events involving the kinds of stories we tell at our events into one pithy list for you. Wisconsin Book Festival

Kipp Friedman
10/16/2014 – 5:00pm
Central Library – The Bubbler

Molly Wizenberg
10/16/2014 – 6:30pm
The Kitchen Gallery

Gail Sheehy
10/17/2014 – 7:30pm
Central Library – Community Room

Caitlin Doughty
10/17/2014 – 9:00pm
Central Library – Community Room

Lauren Alleyne
10/18/2014 – 11:00am
Room of One’s Own

June Melby
10/18/2014 – 12:00pm
Wisconsin Historical Museum

Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski
10/18/2014 – 1:30pm
Central Library – The Bubbler

Michael Forster Rothbart Danny Wilcox Frazier Scott Strazzante
10/19/2014 – 11:00am
Overture Center for the Arts – Promenade Hall

You should also check out the Monsters of Poetry on Friday and Nerd Nite on Saturday because those are both beautiful efforts being put forth by people right here in Madison. Also, their regular events don’t conflict with our regular events! You can do so much in this town! Get out there and do it all! Include our next story night on October 24th at 7 pm at Arboretum Cohousing as part of the all that you are out there doing. Make sure to have a truly harrowing experience before the 24th so you can come tell us about it.

Some Questions for a Storyteller: Jen Rubin

Each month or so, we profile a Story Night regular by asking her some questions about herself and her storytelling. This month’s “Some Questions” features storyteller Jen Rubin. You can listen to Jen’s past stories: Just a Handful and Madison’s Version of Ecotourism.

Jen Rubin

1. When and why did you come to Madison?

I moved to Madison in 1996 because my husband was accepted at UW School of Education for graduate school. The UW offered him a fellowship which meant we could have good health insurance during the years we planned to have kids so we moved here. It turns out that Madison is a hard place to leave.

2. What do you do with your time (when you’re not telling stories)?

I have mostly done social change work in Madison. Right now I am pursuing my mid-life crisis and writing a book. So I spend some of my time doing children’s advocacy work and I spend other time working on my book. I am also an obsessive maker of mixed tapes and am continuing my life long quest to develop arm muscles. I love to bake and it is quite possible that I bake the best challah in Madison.

3. What makes you want to tell personal stories in front of strangers and semi-strangers?

I come from a family of storytellers. By that I mean my family has a very oral tradition of telling the stories of our family, particularly the immigrant stories of my grandparents. As a result I am used to people holding the floor and early in life understood which stories held my attention and which stories didn’t. It was a useful education that a good anedcoate isn’t enough for a good story, if you want to keep the attention of the table there needs to be some craft to what your saying.

A few years ago I first learned about the Moth podcast and started listening to it each week. I loved the stories and really paid attention to which ones I thought were amazing and which ones were just ok. After a few months I thought to myself, I can do this. I am sure I can do this too. Whenever I walked the dog or went for runs I would sketch out stories in my head, just for the fun of it. About a year and a half ago I heard that the Moth story slam was now in Milwaukee, so I took a van load of friends with me to throw my name in the hat to see if I could get picked to tell a story. I didn’t get picked the first time I went, but did the second time. I was very nauseous and nervous about getting up on a stage and telling a story but wanted to do it anyway.

As for why I want to get up in front of strangers and tell a story, it is hard to say. It is a strange compulsion. I know my story writing is good and the most comfortable thing for me would be to hand people my story to read. But I love the communal feeling of a storytelling gathering and I love to hear other people’s stories. I decided to go to that first Moth because it was a chance to push myself past my comfort zone and because I had a sneaking suspicion that I would be good at it. I find it is pretty easy for me to go through life post 40 and not push myself to try new things or get out of my comfort zone.

4. What was the first story you remember telling?

I don’t remember the first story I ever told since I told many a story to try to keep myself out of trouble as a kid/teen. But I imagine my first successful story that wasn’t simply defensive, like the stain on the rug must be because of the incontinent dog and not because I had a party while you were out of town, involved my grandmother. She is really the gift that keeps giving in terms of stories. Whether it was her mailing me plaid flannel bikini underwear, offering me her meat grinder if I would just marry already or telling me that a handful was all I needed for breasts, I had ample material to craft stories around her words.

5. What is the first story you remember hearing?

The first story I remember hearing was from my dad. My dad is an unrelenting storyteller. No anecdote too trivial or too unrelated to the conversation taking place for him to insert a story. To hear my dad’s stories once it to hear them 100 times. My brother and I have them memorized. I learned a few things watching and listening to my dad – all important for me as I decided to get in front of small crowds to tell a story. The first is how much pleasure he took in telling the stories, that it is a wonderful feeling to be listened to. Another is that there is value in understanding other people and their stories and passing your stories down to the next generation. And while my dad didn’t intend to teach this I learned that a story needs more than an interesting or funny anecdote to be compelling. It needs an arc to it and ideally a punchy intro and ending.

6. You’ve been involved with some other story telling events, how do you prepare your stories? Do you have a stable of stories you turn to or do you create new ones depending on the event?

For the last year and a half I mainly have participated in the Milwaukee Moth story slam. Since it is like an open mic I don’t over plan for it. I have the story sketched out in my head and I practice it a few times since the set up of the Moth is that it is a competition and one person advances to the Grandslam. There is a 5 minute time limit so I need to time myself. I tend to have a very specific line I want to say for my last sentence so I don’t want to run out of time before I stick the landing. I did participate in the Grandslam in Milwuakee and I prepared more for that one since I knew for sure I would be telling a story that night. I was also invited to tell a story in Brooklyn at the Moth Main Stage and that was a produced event with a rehearsal so I did a great deal of preparation for it.

In general I think of a new story for each theme. It is a good writing exercise for me to think up new stories. I have a few stories I told at the Milwaukee Moth that I really like so I definitely re-use them when I have a chance. The story I told at the Bubbler is one I told at a Moth story slam – just tweaked to fit the new theme.

Our next story event is I Thought I Was Going to Die on October 24th at Arboretum Cohousing starting at 7:15. That should give you some time to have a really harrowing experience.

Are you interested in having a story night in your neighborhood? Find a venue and let us know about it. We love to tell stories all over Madison. Give us your ideas: madisonstorytells at gmail dot com.

#20: Escape Stories

Escape Madison Storytellers September 5, 2014 Madison Public Library

Escape: Stories About Getting Unstuck

Last Friday, September 5th, we came back from our brief summer break. We partnered with The Bubbler and presented Escape stories for one of their Night Light events. We had a very successful event with them last December and were happy to have another generous crowd this time around (Check out our photo gallery, our Facebook page, and The Bubbler’s Facebook page for photos). Maybe we should start doing this more regularly.

We had a lot of storytellers hanging around and we found time to listen to all of them, which was to our benefit because they had some fine stories to tell. Check them out below and find out about escaping bad vibes; moral conundrums; family members; target baskets; Joplin, MO; and a few other tight spots. Put everything you learn in your back pocket so you can survive your next close call.

Speaking of close calls, the theme for next month is “I Thought I Was Going to Die.” We’ll be back at ArbCo on October 24th.

Escape by Madison Storytellers on Mixcloud

HEY! We’ve got some other great news! Through your contributions we have matched the funds we received from Dane County Arts! Come to a story night and check out our fancy new recorder and mic stand. Better yet, come to a story night and speak into the recorder so that we can have a beautiful recording of your voice that we’ll put on our website. We’ll be very proud of you for telling an interesting story well. We also got a fancy new hard drive, but we don’t flash that thing around at story nights. Thanks to everyone who contributed; you have helped to make us the legitimate arts institution that we have become. Next funding round we’ll get a mic and PA so that even the tinniest voices will be heard.

Interim Story Solutions: Story Podcasts

Boom! Podcasts blowing up like fireworks!

Risk Podcasts

We’re resting for the summer, but there are still plenty of other ways to get ahold of some stories. In addition to the local storytelling groups we list here, there are a number of other storytelling podcasts.

The Moth – When most people think about people telling true stories to an audience of strangers, they think about this one. July 14th and 29th they’ll be in Chicago, July 19th they’ll be in Milwaukee, and July 30th they’ll be in St. Paul (check their list of events).

True Story – True Story is a podcast that has featured one of our own storytellers, so they are obviously putting out hight quality entertainment.

Erica is currently obsessed with Risk!, by currently I mean she told me about it a couple of months ago, but she probably hasn’t done anything but listen to it since then. Risk tries to reappropriate its name from a tedious board game by challenging people to tell stories they never thought they would tell in public. You can see people either overcome or succumb to their shame live in Chicago when Risk is there on the 22nd of July.

On August 2nd, you can see Mortified in Chicago. Mortified features people betraying their younger selves by trotting all sorts of childhood ephemera up on stage and telling stories about it. It’s fun because you don’t owe your younger self anything. Fuck that dude or dudette.

If you know of any other groups, events, or podcasts let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Our next event is September 5th at Madison Public Library’s Bubbler Night Light Event. The Bubbler has a lot going on this summer so be sure to go do some of those things while you are waiting to tell stories again.

Some Questions for a Storyteller: Jess King

Each month or so, we profile a Story Night regular by asking her some questions about herself and her storytelling. This month’s “Some Questions” features storyteller Jess King. You can listen to Jess’s past stories: State Street Scary and Sick for the Grand Canyon. She also told the second one at our quitting event.

Jess King

1.  When and why did you come to Madison?

I moved here from Illinois in the summer of 2006 to pursue my love affair with south central Asian food served in moderately sized Midwestern cities. I’m only half kidding. The first meal I ever ate in Madison was at Kabul on State Street. I quickly decided that any place that had an Afghani restaurant would be a place I wouldn’t mind calling home.

2.  What do you do with your time (when you’re not telling stories)?

Walking and biking around town, reading books, going to see live music, and in general trying to avoid sitting in front of a screen for more than 90% of my waking hours. It’s a challenge, as screens can be quite engaging. I work a day job in nonprofit health care communications and dabble in occasional creative projects.

3.  What makes you want to tell personal stories in front of strangers and semi-strangers?

I’ve been super into storytelling on the radio ever since first hearing This American Life in 2004. The art form has just exploded in popularity with so many amazing free podcasts full of interesting people: RadioLab, Story Collider, Risk!, The Moth.

More than anything, I like the feeling of shared humanity that comes from connecting through stories. Communicating our experiences can shrink the spaces between us. And making even one person laugh is a rush.

4.  What was the first story you remember telling?

As a kid I mostly told stories to myself. I would walk in circles around the yard and make lists of all the items I would need as a pioneer girl and what frontier life would look like. Or I would talk about what I would do if I stowed away on a pirate ship.

I also created pages and pages of drawings to correspond to these various scenarios. As you might have guessed, I was an extremely popular child with oodles of friends.

5. In addition to telling stories you take pictures of story nights; is it difficult to take interesting pictures of people standing in front of a mic?

My number one goal is to avoid catching the speaker in an odd grimace or scowl. This can be difficult as we have wonderfully expressive performers who are constantly moving their faces while entertaining us.

It is true that the photos can turn out kind of similar to one another. I try to look for moments when the speaker has interesting body language, but I don’t want to be too distracting scurrying around trying to find unusual angles. That said, please send me any and all tips to improve storytelling night photos! [Eds. – Jess does a great job of making all of our storytellers look engaging, interesting, and not scowl-ridden. Check out her work in our gallery. She’s been hard at work for us since our Quitting story night.]

6. We’ve managed to lose the recordings of at least two of your stories, do you hate us?

Nah, I’m just happy you guys haven’t kicked me off the stage yet. Not having recordings means I will get to tell much better versions in the future and no one will be the wiser.

Also, you didn’t ask this question, but if I could pick anyone (dead or alive) with whom to swap stories, it would have to be Mark Twain. That dude was hilarious.

We’re taking the summer off, but will be back in September. In September we are excited to be working with The Bubbler at Madison Public Library for another one of their Night Light events! The last one was a lot of fun. You can tell from the recordings we got from it. Jess told a story there that we lost, so maybe we’ll all have a chance for redemption this time around. See you all September 5th!

#19: So Long for Now

So Long for Now

So Long for Now, but we’ll see you again September 5th.

We got together at Hudson Park on Friday the 13th to say “So Long for Now”. There weren’t many bugs, there were at least 5 gallons of beer, it smelled a little like seaweed in the front row (I assure you that’s why there was no one sitting there), and we had some visitors. There was a guy fly fishing in waders who didn’t seem much affected by us, a duck fight which didn’t seem much affected by us, the strains of some booty shaking music from a passing party boat which affected us, and 4 or 5 planes overhead. At least one of those planes happened by at an opportune moment to heighten the effect of one of our stories. We managed to deal with the other planes. So while we didn’t affect too many of our surroundings those surroundings affected our stories and our stories affected us. At the end of it all, there was a striking full moon for those who hung out afterwards drinking beer down by the water.

We invited three past story tellers to come tell us any story that they felt like. I can’t imagine another way to have brought together a story from Anna on the personal origins of Madison Storytellers, a story from Erica about the lifetime commitment of potty training, and a story from Andy about being two things at once. Then we told some micro stories in a chain with each story inspired by the one that came before it.

We’re going to take a short break now, but we’ll be back on September 5th to partner with Madison Public Library’s The Bubbler for a Night Light event. We did one back in December and that turned out well. We think this one will too. Bring your stories in September and we know it will turn out well. Thanks for being with us this year.

So long for now.

So Long for Now by Madison Storytellers on Mixcloud