In Over Our Heads Podcast Part 2

8581107702_865e828081_o This is the second part of the podcast for May 22nd’s In Over Our Heads: Stories with Water event at Madison Sourdough. Here is where you might expect a water pun, but instead I will let you write the puns after you hear the stories.

Tom and Erica – Look Around
Anonymous – How I Helped My Sister Along
Brendon – The Beginning of Critical Thought
Libby – Water Pump
Chris – The Case of the Handgun in the River
Peter – I Don’t Know What Else to Say

Our next event is next Friday at Madison Central Library. We’ll be back for another Night Light event The theme is The Last Time I… and you get to talk about the last time you did, looked, ate, said, loved, died, left, came back, evaporated. Sign up to tell a story at the event here.

In Over Our Heads Podcast Part 1

8581107702_865e828081_o This is the first part of the podcast for May 22nd’s In Over Our Heads: Stories with Water event at Madison Sourdough. All of the stories stayed right on target too. There was a story about a lack of water and a couple of stories about too much water and a story about taking refuge in water. Tomorrow we’ll have the rest of the stories for you.

Brendon – Darwin Did This To Me
Tom – I Was Real Comfortable
Sarah – I’m A Very Strong Swimmer
Fern – Temper Tantrum

Our next event is next Friday at Madison Central Library. We’ll be back for another Night Light event The theme is The Last Time I… and you get to talk about the last time you did, looked, ate, said, loved, died, left, came back, evaporated. Sign up to tell a story at the event here.

Day in a Kid’s Life at Lincoln Elementary

Collecting stories of a day in a kid’s life to balance out all the adults talking.

day in a kid's lifeThis past Wednesday was A Day in a Kid’s Life. You can watch, hear, and read all sorts of stories collected from kids on Madison Story Project’s Facebook. We are always excited to help pass stories around and we were happy to be part of this project because kids have fun stories. We already posted some stories from the Odyssey Junior Program that we collected earlier and here are some stories that we collected at MSCR’s Lincoln Safe Haven After School Program.

Zoe – Christmas and Hanukkah

Thea – I like to See Productions at Overture

Santiago – It’s just steaming hot

Ruby – What Mood Were You in the Flavor For?

Oska – I like to socialize

Malcolm – We Celebrate Pizza

Kamari – 32 + 15 = 47

Jack – Castle Rock Lake

Henry – Waffle Place

Gretta – No Favorites

Felix – The Education is good here

Eric – I Just Got a Dog

Anonymous – Music Festivals

Our next event is May 22nd at Madison Sourdough. The theme is In Over Our Heads: Stories with Water. Sign up to tell a story at the event here.

A Day in a Kid’s Life

a day in a kid's lifeOver the past few weeks we have been working with the Madison Story Project, a humanities and community-based storytelling project for Madison-area youth run by Madison Children’s Museum and Madison Public Library. We’ve been traveling around and recording stories that kids want to tell about themselves and their lives. I’ve had a lot of fun.

This is all a part of an effort to get kids talking about kids for the historical record and also an effort for me to have fun. I’m grateful on both counts. This post is to share some of the stories we have collected so far and to let you know that we’ll be collecting stories at The Goodman Center from 3 to 5 today. There is also the opportunity for kids to make stop motion animations. I realize that in a lot of cases stop motion is going to win out over storytelling. I’ve made my peace with that.

Madison Story Project is also sponsoring a social media blitz on Wednesday May 6th. On the 6th pictures and posts on social media with the hashtag #madisonstoryproject, tweet @madisonstorypro, or email to

Here are the stories we have collected so far. We hope to collect a lot more.

Alayvia – Scars

Claudio – Wisconsin Weather

Jaayd – My Siblings

Trinity – My Scars

Qintas – Right Wing

Anna – Cleaning My Room

Maka – Stevie the Fish

Quan – Polar Caps

Janiya – Dog Bite

QuAnna – In Madison

Jahnilla – Basketball

Jaayd – My Grandma’s Dogs

Deja – Friends or Whatever

Antonio – Bike Crash

Our next event is May 22nd at Madison Sourdough. The theme is In Over Our Heads: Stories with Water.

#26: Adventure Recordings

Adventure is something we all need.

Here are the individual files for all of the adventure stories we told at Lakeside St. Coffee House.

Sometimes we adventure at home. You know it can be an adventure to try cooking a recipe for your class or to take your family’s secret recipe to a meal with a significant other. Sometimes we adventure in Rome or Estonia or Paris or Detroit. And some of those adventures we jump into willingly and sometimes they are forced on us violently or perhaps forced on us through violence done to small to medium sized birds. And sometimes you just need to do something to mark what has come and what might come next. In all of these cases after the adventure is done we’ve got a story about it and we can bring these stories to each other. If nothing else it makes for something fun to do on a Friday night in April. But I think it does a little more than just fill the night.

Crosstown Traffic by Brendon

Lost in Rome by Lisa

Frickin’ Wacko Moment by Amanda

Jim-Jam Justin by Sarah

Adventure Micro Stories by Various
Featuring: Beat It by Jamie, Next Time Bring Bikes by Jess, Run Around Until You Get Somewhere by Spencer, Dating Non-Mormon Men by Lisa, Sleeping in the Bushes by Anonymous, Three Day Long Process by Sarah, and Just An other Cooking Disaster by Avery.

The Prince of Estonia by Nic

Primate Problems by Keith

A Roadtrip West & Romantic Entanglements

Our next event is May 22nd at Madison Sourdough. The theme is In Over Our Heads: Stories with Water.

Adventure Podcast Part 2

AdventureNow for the second part of our Adventure podcast recorded April 17th at Lakeside St. Coffee House.

Jamie – Beat it
Jess – Next Time Bring Bikes
Spencer – Run Around Until you get Somewhere
Lisa – Dating Non-mormon Men
Anonymous – Sleeping in the Bushes
Sarah – Three Day Long Process
Avery – Just Another Cooking Disaster
Nic – The Prince of Estonia
Keith – Primate Problems
Jamie – A Roadtrip West & Romantic Entanglements

Adventure Podcast Part 1

AdventureWe told stories at Lakeside St. Coffee House about being taken on adventures willingly and unwillingly, pigeons with their heads off, the possibility of being lost in an infinite pajama zone, medical adventures, Detroit Ape City, and first tattoos. Here’s the first batch with the next to follow tomorrow.

Podcast about it:

Brendon – Crosstown Traffic
Lisa – Lost in Rome
Amanda – Frickin’ Wacko Moment
Sarah – Jim-Jam Justin

#25: 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.

#24: 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

#23: 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

#22: 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.

#21: 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.