I want to thank all the new people for signing up on our MeetUP page. I’m sorry I haven’t had time the write personal introductions or thank yous. I’m happy that so many people are interested in telling and listening to stories.
Since it’s been a long time since I posted anything about rules and guidelines I figured this would be a good time to do that. You are more than welcome to just come and listen, but if you want to tell a story (and I hope you do) here’s what you need to know.
Rules/Guidelines for performing:
1. Story must be true and have happened to you. Also, the story should mean something to you. We’re looking for stories that tell us something about yourself. Not every story has a moral but there should be something in there that tells us why the story is important to you and maybe how its shaped your life or your beliefs about something. It doesn’t have to be serious. Funny stories can be just as meaningful as sad ones.
2. Keep it under 8 minutes. Shorter is better so we can get more people onstage. We run from 7:00-8:30 and I try to end it on time.
3. No notes onstage. Trust me, it’s always better to tell the story naturally. Practice in your living room, the car, the bathroom, wherever. Tell it to friends and family, or that guy on the bus. Whatever it takes to remember it.
4. A story needs a beginning, middle and an end. Sometimes I think I have a story but it turns out it’s just a collection of memories and a feeling. I usually figure this out when I practice out loud. There’s something about practicing out loud that makes it easier to tell when something isn’t working or doesn’t make sense.
5. Know your last line first. The best advice I ever got for storytelling was to know the last line of your story before you start telling it. The last line should be something that wraps everything up and gives the story meaning.
6. Sharing is more important than performing. Don’t worry about turning your story into a performance. Tell the story as if you were in the living room with friends. Great stories come from a place of humility and vulnerability. That doesn’t mean they can’t be funny and lighthearted. Most of the stories at FGS are very funny but they’re more self-deprecating than what you hear at a comedy show.
7. I’m not a professional storyteller so take my advice with a grain a salt. I’m just happy you’re here. I try to keep the show as casual as possible while still making everyone use a microphone.
8. No standup comedy. There are lots of open mics for that. There aren’t too many for storytelling.
9. Dirty words and subject matter. Use your judgement. We are in a public place and not everyone is there for the show. Some people are there with their kids. Stories that are funny in a nightclub or bar rarely do well here. Stories about having sex are funny between friends but are usually jarring in a storytelling show. Tread carefully. There are ways to tell those stories but it takes a lot of thought and nuance and the version you tell your buddies at the BBQ is not the version we’re looking for here.
10. If you put some thought into it you can tell a story about almost any subject. Choose your words carefully. I know it’s harder but it will be worth it. The audience will appreciate it and more importantly Roy Street Coffee will appreciate it. They let us use their room for free and if we offend their customers we won’t have a show anymore.
11. Stay on the stage. Please don’t leave the stage area and walk through the audience. That’s fine for a comedy club but not at FGS.
12. Get there early to put your name in the Mr. Coffee Carafe if you’ve told at FGS before or the sweet smelling tea tin (cinnamon spice!) if you’re a first-timer. There’s another tea tin for folks that arrive after 7:00 or get inspired during the show to tell a story. If I have time I’ll pull names out of that tin. I hope that all makes sense. I may have just confused everyone. It’ll be clear when I do it at the show.
I can’t make a rule about everything so if have any questions or you’re wondering if your story is appropriate send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or come up to me before the show and ask me about it.