“Look at this! Standing- and, well, sitting room only!” the winner, Deb, said into the microphone. “You all are proof that the ancient art of storytelling is still very much alive.”
Tuesday night, Deb, the winner of MOTH’s monthly StorySLAM competition addressed a packed house at the Haymarket Pub and Brewery on Halsted. She talked out to us sitting cross-legged on the floor, where we’d been for the past two hours, listening to ten people tell five minute stories with the competition’s theme, “silver lining.” The place was full from wall to wall – over 40 participants had put their names in a hat at the beginning of the night in hopes they would be drawn as one of ten speakers who would take the stage during the course of the evening, and many more poured in to listen to the stories of their fellow Chicagoans.
In turn, ten individuals told true stories that attempted to woo the audience and captivate three tables of judges. As the evening unfolded, heartbreak, humor and hilarity ensued, bringing the community of Chicago together for a short period of time and showcasing what citizens care most about: each other.
We heard stories ranging from a man chasing down a drunk vandal to a girl who cried in a bathroom during roller derby practice with Busty Brabender to the winning story from a woman who was faced with the reality of her husband’s infidelity – he had cheated on her for the duration of their dating relationship and marriage.
The majority of the evening was lighthearted, fun and emotional (most speakers had found the “silver lining” by the end of their stories), but there was one moment where I cringed. Between speakers, the emcee pulled short quips from a hat that had been deposited there throughout the night by attendees: “The silver lining became slightly toiled when ________.”
And he read the following: “The silver lining became slightly toiled when I grew up and realized all adults are f***ing a**holes.”
The crowd immediately roared with laughter. Then, the emcee interrupted and said:
“I have something to say to the young person who wrote this – whoever wrote this has NOT grown up yet! Until you’re 25, paying your own rent, and doing your own laundry, you are not an adult. I have news for you – by definition, all American citizens are f***ing a**holes. We’re all f***ing a**holes!”
I looked at my friend next to me as she exclaimed, “JESUS!” Which was probably perceived by most people nearby as a cry of exasperation or an expletive…but I knew that’s not what she meant. Rather, when we made eye contact, we knew – yes, we may be “young” people by definition, but even though we aren’t yet 25, we are paying our own rent and doing our own laundry and happen to love Jesus. As we enter the world, we don’t want to think of ourselves as inevitably becoming jerks, and don’t want our fellow American citizens to be perceived in life that way either – especially not the ones who love Jesus.
At the end of the night, the emcee encouraged us to come back next month for a chance to hear more stories, and to maybe even tell our own stories. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be there – on the lookout for life’s silver lining.