Now for the second edition of my podcast review series. I know you’ve all been eagerly anticipating this! This time I’m talking about The Moth.
I first heard of The Moth when my cousin commented on my original podcast post back in February and recommended it as one of her favorites. She said it regularly made her cry in public, which was pretty much all I needed to hear. Who doesn’t love a good cry on public transportation from time to time? And even better if it’s induced by a podcast and not personal tragedy/sorrow, right? I immediately subscribed, and I’ve been in love ever since.
The Moth is a storytelling program, started by novelist George Dawes Green. The idea is to recreate the experience of hearing a good story told at a dinner party or a gathering of friends. All the stories are recorded live in front of an audience. The storytellers must tell a true personal story without notes. The podcast is simply a replaying of these stories for a wider audience. The stories on the podcast are mixed and matched from different events, so you’re not listening to all the stories from one event.
As my cousin promised, I frequently cry when listening to them. The stories are often heartbreaking; but they are also hilarious, uplifting, intimate, inspiring, and always compelling.
Given all of this, I was SUPER excited when earlier this summer at the end of one episode, the host mentioned that The Moth was coming to London for the first time! I am rarely on top of booking tickets to things that sound interesting, but I JUMPED at this chance and bought tickets as soon as I could. Which is how I found myself (together with three friends) at Union Chapel last Thursday evening for the first Moth Mainstage in London.
The theme was Eyewitness, and we heard five different stories. The adherence to the theme was a bit waffly (though I guess you can interpret “eyewitness” as “something that happened to me and therefore I witnessed”), but they were all captivating in their own way. George Dawes Green (founder of The Moth) spoke about the time he briefly lived in a graveyard; Lynn Ferguson spoke about receiving the devastating news that her unborn son had a severe disability; Andrew Solomon told us about his participation in the resistance to the 1991 August coup d’état attempt in Soviet Russia; Omid Djalili regaled us with anecdotes from his time on the set of Gladiator; and – most compelling of all – Noreen Riols spoke about her work with Churchill’s Special Operations Executive service during World War II, training men to become spies behind enemy lines.
I loved being there as an active listener to the stories I’m used to hearing through headphones. I’m even more thrilled that The Moth seems to have some to London to stay. Besides this Mainstage event, there are several Story Slams already scheduled for the coming months. The Story Slams are events where anyone can come with a story prepared on the stated theme; hopeful storytellers put their names in a hat, ten are selected, each tells their five minute story, and a winner is declared at the end of the night. What fun!
So go check it out. And keep an ear out for the stories from London’s first Moth Mainstage. I’m one of those people shuffling and laughing in the background!