If you’re involved in the world of live personal storytelling, as a teller or a fan, then you know the pandemic didn’t stop us but only prompted us to find each other online, thanks to dedicated producers who took their shows to the virtual road. Such shows are part of a support system that has kept us glued together as a community, and helped keep me from coming unglued personally. As we prepare to return to live shows, please allow me to share with you this fun little story from one of our pandemic-era events, the Turbine Arts Collective annual Pre-Valentine’s Show. This story is called: The Hooker Bully.
So, you’d like to see more of this sort of thing? Then you’re in luck! 😉 I’m appearing in a half-hour one-woman show for Greystone Theatre Performances, a series of virtual solo performances featuring a variety of artists at Beverly Hills’ historic Greystone Mansion. Here’s the lowdown:
A story can mean different things at different times. In 2019, I first told this one, Cara Lopez Lee Gets A Reporting Job (a.k.a. The Boss of Last Resort) for Daniel David Shapiro’s podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. It’s the story of the most racist, sexist, intolerant tyrant I ever worked for, back in the 90’s. I share it now as a small underline to America’s cry for change in 2020. I previously shared the podcast, but below is the video of me telling the story to our live audience. It was one of the two true stories in the show.
I have not lived an African American experience, though I carry African DNA from my ancestors. And this story does not directly address the recent murder of George Floyd, or police brutality against people of color, though I am outraged by such injustices. Neither is this story about the Black Lives Matter movement, though BLM gave me impetus to share it now. Still, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate: Black Lives Matter. Maybe if we say it enough, and back it up with meaningful action, we’ll begin to create change.
I suspect we all have a story about some crazy boss who we feared might destroy our lives. I recently shared such a story on Daniel David Shapiro’s podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. There is so much unbelievable drama in real life, but also so much surprising truth in fiction, that I can’t help but love Dan’s description of his show: “a podcast about truth, fiction, and the hazy line in between.” Whether he asks me to tell the truth or a fabulation, it’s always a thrill to share a story with Dan’s live audience. Here’s a link to the story I told for his recent episode, “Bosses.” I’m the first storyteller in the podcast, but I hope you’ll listen to all three so you can join the fun and try to guess who’s lying. Of course, you can always cheat and jump to the Revealepisode for the answer…but what fun would that be?
Above is a video Daniel David Shapiro recently released of me telling a story at his live L.A. show and podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. Dan’s show presents irresistible challenges for storytellers, as we all strive to keep the audience guessing:
If Dan asks me to lie, for me the challenge is to build a story with details so deeply human that the audience feels the ring of a deeper truth within it, even though it’s made up. It’s also a fun balancing act to see how high I can stack the hyperbole, spinning a tale so outrageous they’re sure nobody would dare make it up, all without overplaying my hand.
If Dan asks me to tell the truth, I strive to give the audience details that make them doubt it really happened, or at least make them hope it didn’t…even though it did. I love to take an audience with me as I ponder just how astonishing are the challenges of being human.
My above story, Baby Thumbelina, comes from an episode called Innocence. It’s a tale of childhood bullying and sweet revenge, and it’s all too true, my friends. Please check it out. If it reminds you of a story of your own, I hope you’ll let me know…
If you’ve checked my blog since the New Year, then you’ll recall I recently posted my latest performance on the L.A. storytelling show and podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. If so, you might still be wondering who the liar was. Let me end the suspense by directing you back to host Dan Shapiro’s website for the big reveal.
Dan’s show has a fun premise: three people share personal stories on a theme—this time the theme was Innocence—then the audience guesses which storyteller is lying. For a refresher on the story I told, here’s a link to Two Truths and a Lie: Episode 83.
At The Moth GrandSlam on July 24 at L.A.’s historic Regent Theatre, I was honored to share the stage with some of the best storytellers around as we told stories on the night’s theme: Identity Crisis. Please check out this 6-minute video of me performing Old Mr. Ma, the story of my grandma, me, and my search for her father’s Chinese roots.
About The GrandSlam: These events always feature 10 storytellers who have won local StorySlams. Each tells a five-minute story to a live audience in a friendly competition for one of The Moth’s greatest honors: GrandSlam Champ. On our night, 500-plus people listened to us share the most vulnerable, unusual, ridiculous moments we’ve spent seeking answers to the question: who am I? It was a thrilling night of people connecting through the power of story.
About The Moth: “The Moth’s mission is to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.” Put simply, The Moth is: true stories, told live, without notes. If you haven’t yet, I recommend listening to The Moth Radio Houror The Moth Podcast. Beware: it’s addicting.
After more than a year striving to find my voice in the world of oral storytelling, I won The Moth StorySlam in L.A. on January 23, 2018. The night’s topic was Achilles’ Heel. It was humbling to win with a story about my weaknesses. I now qualify to compete in a Moth Grand Slam with nine other StorySlam winners. There are no prizes, just the joy of celebrating the human experience with fellow storytellers and an enthusiastic audience. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, if you’re unfamiliar with live storytelling, I recommend checking out The Moth Radio Hour or The Moth Podcast. You’re in for an unforgettable experience in the power of story.