The fine art of storytelling
Everyone has a story.
That’s one of the first lessons I learned in studying journalism in college. And it’s something I’m consistently reminded in about everything in life. There’s TV and film, two mediums I enjoy on a regular basis. Mostly because I love the theatrics of it all. I still have a mild addiction to CBS soap operas, “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” two shows — sometimes referred to as “stories” — I’ve watched since I was young.
In my early youth, I also remember watching a lot of reruns of “The Brady Bunch” and “Good Times,” which had great story lines about growing up in the ‘70s when times were certainly changing. The Brady kids always found themselves in a pickle that normally resolved with some sort of lesson about how to treat others or be a good person. I was a big fan of Alice, played by Ann B. Davis, who died last June. She was wise beyond her role as the family housekeeper, and I always thought she had the best advice. She was like a child therapist, marriage counselor and resident chef.
All wrapped in one blue work dress with a white apron.
I also couldn’t get enough of Mr. Roarke and his assistant Tattoo on “Fantasy Island” and the mama drama on “Knots Landing” between Abby and Karen. Obviously I’m a sucker for an exaggerated story, but I also appreciate true-to-life stories. That’s probably why “Hoosiers” will always be a favorite movie of mine. The true story of a small-town Indiana basketball team winning the state championship, against all odds, strikes a chord with me. Like the John Mellencamp lyrics say, “I’ve seen it all in a small town, had myself a ball in a small town.” Except basketball for me.
I still can’t play that game to save my life.
Whether it’s movies about sports, TV shows with canned laughter or books — I’ve loved so many in my life it would be impossible to list them all, but “Little Women” is a nice start — stories surround us. They can be found in this community newspaper or online in a mommy blog. Maybe they’re relayed at the library for storytelling events the Garfield County Libraries hosts throughout the year. Stories are heard at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue through song and dance. Stand-up comedy is also a funny way for people to share their life’s story on stage.
Personally, I prefer laughing through life.
This week, I participated in a storytelling night in Indianapolis that reminded me how important the tales of our lives are in inspiring each other and appreciating life’s moments, funny or not. Popular Indy comics Matt Holt and Brent Terhune, who have appeared on and written for nationally syndicated radio program “The Bob and Tom Show,” host The Speakeasy: A Storytelling Show at the White Rabbit Cabaret in a funky neighborhood called Fountain Square. There was a range of storytelling from men and women ranging in age from their 20s to 50s, providing the kind of variety of stories one would find at a library or browsing Netflix categories. I can hardly decide which season of a show I’ve never seen I should choose on Netflix. “Orange is the New Black” is definitely on my wish list.
Now that’s a story line.
At the Speakeasy night, the rules were pretty simple. The stories had to be true and didn’t necessarily need to be funny. We were asked to try and keep them around 10 minutes. I told a story of traveling to Iowa with my friend Kendra many years ago to visit her brother for his last collegiate home soccer game. There were many facets to my true-life tale but to summarize, it involved playing a road trip game we made up called “Would You Rather Eat an Eyeball,” a Halloween costume party featuring a girl dressed up as April O’Neill, the red-headed reporter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, and Beer Pong.
Just a few of the highlights.
There were many comics in the room, so most of the stories were funny. One guy told a story of being a 19-year-old member of Parliament and the shenanigans that ensued. The storyteller who went up before me recalled his experience playing Euchre in Africa and competing in a Twist dance contest. Another dude talked about cats. My fellow female on the roster told of her first experience doing stand-up comedy after taking a class at the local college and being accused of stealing a veteran’s joke, which she didn’t. The joke was about kiwis.
Just because one guy writes a joke about fuzzy fruit doesn’t mean it’s off limits to everyone.
When the night was over, my face was hurting from smiling and laughing so much. I heard so many great stories, I was ready for bed. I loved seeing the art of storytelling continue. It’s a part of the human condition, to want to share moments of our lives passed down through the generations. Even when they’re about eyeballs, cats and kiwis. Stories bring us together as a race, and we are all better humans for taking time to listen to, watch and read them.
Even daytime soaps.
April E. Clark’s favorite bedtime storybook was “Madeline” where “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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