'And I Am Not Lying' - My first album of standup and storytelling
June 14, 2017 11:42 AM   Subscribe

'And I Am Not Lying' - My first album of standup and storytelling [via mefi projects] by Metafilter's own chinese_fashion.

Jeff Simmermon is a standup comic and storyteller in NYC, been a member of the blue for a long time. His stuff has been on 'This American Life' and The Moth's podcast - and his very first album of standup and storytelling just came out!

You can also hear a sample track about his band with piano-playing chickens, and see video of another story featured on the album.
posted by xingcat (10 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
It's very good stuff. You guys should give it a listen.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 12:24 PM on June 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

If you're here, Jeff, I'd be very curious to hear how you got hooked up with TAL and the Moth (speaking as a standup comedian who listens to both regularly).
posted by msalt at 1:02 PM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding msalt.

I wish The Moth was closer to me, but I just cannot drive to the most crowded cities in my end of the state on a weekday night, for godsake.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

How to Tell at The Moth StorySLAM

- Consult our calendar to find our published theme.

- Conjure, channel, craft and compose your story.

- Practice so you can remember it without the benefits of paper. Then practice it so you can keep it down to five minutes. Tell it to your plants but know that they are a tough audience. Revise. Rework. Curse your plants for not believing in you! Revamp. Finesse. Shave off another two minutes. Try again. Voila! Forgive your plants. Indeed, they helped you see the light.

- Come to the Moth StorySLAM and put your name in the hat. If you are one of the lucky 10 picked, you’ll have five minutes to woo the audience with tales of your on-theme escapades. Unpicked? Fear not, some variation of your theme will surely rise again. All stories have multiple themes and stretching them to fit can be fun and even bring out elements you hadn’t recognized before.

- Contestants are judged on sticking to the five-minute time frame, sticking to the theme and having a story that has a conflict and a resolution.

This is in Sydney which is the closest to me. I suppose they do this kind of thing all over the place though? I'm not sure what 'winning' involves, but if you really blow the roof off the place with your story maybe The Moth invites you to do more.

There's more info here actually.

After ten StorySLAMs in a city, the winners then compete for the title of GrandSLAM Champion with a brand new story. This is the ultimate battle of wits and words.

Good luck if you want to get involved! As much as I enjoy The Moth, I would rather die than get on that stage.
posted by adept256 at 2:28 PM on June 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hey folks - so glad you like the album! Really trying to get the word out there, and every bit helps.

@msalt: I happened to start doing storytelling in NYC at a pretty crucial time in the art form's development. The Moth's podcast had not yet come out, and the slams were maybe twice a month in NYC and LA only. It was a much smaller scene, and also more vibrant in a lot of ways.

I don't want to be one of those guys I met in punk rock, at SXSW, wherever, who are always saying "aw, everything was so much cooler before YOU showed up," but the fact is, things change as they grow.

This was about 2008 or so. There was this HUGE appetite for storytelling shows that were distinct from standup, and folks that knew each other from The Moth started their own shows. And I got INTO IT SO HARD. I spent so much time writing, revising, practicing, trying to win a weekly slam. And then one day I did. And went on to a Grand Slam.

A guy who works at TAL had become a friend of mine and ran an excellent (now defunct) storytelling show and came to see me at my first Moth Grand SLAM. He loved my story, and pre-pitched it to his team at TAL. Then I pitched it later the same day, and the producer said "yeah, Seth just mentioned this in our pitch meeting."

Three days later, I knew that I was going to be on the show, and literally a week later Ira Glass was interviewing me. I cannot stress to you how much this never, ever happens. It's like threading a needle by throwing thread at it from across the room.

I got spoiled, and thought "well, I am the sort of person for whom shit like this happens," and spent literally the next several years being bitter and frustrated because nothing else happened like that.

Maybe 3 weeks after I appeared on TAL I had the chance to host a show at Caroline's on Broadway for a then-rising comic who is now a household name. I thought "Oh, I've been vetted by Ira Glass, surely these tourists will appreciate my dry narrative-driven humor." And I bombed so bad that I sweat through every layer of a 3-piece suit.

Instead of licking my wounds and giving up like a sane person, I had this Inigo Montoya moment and started getting really, really into standup, and making my stories work AS standup.

I left a full time job in 2013, my wife left me in 2014, and the only thing that kept me sane was the same thing that made me nuts: telling stories onstage.

I won a few more Moth SLAMs, got into a few more Grand SLAMS. And eventually did that story about my groceries on the subway at a sold out rock club for the Moth Grand SLAM. The crowd sounded like a helicopter crashing into another helicopter. I've never had more fun preforming or felt a bigger rush.

You know that part at the end of Scarface when Al Pacino is face down in a mountain of cocaine?

That's a really strong glass of iced tea compared to how it felt to tell that story that night - the one linked above.

I didn't even win the GrandSLAM with that story.

And then they put it on their podcast.

The thing about getting on the Moth's podcast as a straight white guy who has never had a cool job or been famous is that you KNOW you were undeniable. They weight heavily for minorities - that's a whole other thread. Malcolm Gladwell could shake it off onto a hot mic and they'd broadcast it. But if you listen enough, you'll notice that the regular schmos almost ALWAYS have the best stories.

I know this got long, but seriously, comic to comic, I gotta tell you that it may look like "hooked up with," but there is a LONG trail of bitter tears, bombing and existential angst behind those two NPR appearances. And they really didn't change much for me perceptibly, apart from a nice little boost of the ego and giving me cards to play when pitching this album. But I'm still broke.

Now somebody wins a Story SLAM literally once a week in NYC alone, plus every other city where they have SLAMS. It's fine, but the market value of those credits may be decreasing.

HOWEVER, @adept256 - that's why you should do this! It's terrifying, but so, so worth it. Sometimes the best stories are the unrehearsed ones, or by regular people who don't suffer from standup as an emotional disorder. And if you totally suck, it'll be pretty forgettable.

Look at what it took for me to get noticed at ALL, then use it as protective camouflage. At this point The Moth is an incredibly glamorous open mic, you may as well give it a crack.

I'm happy to field any more questions if you like.

I'm also gonna be on tour in Boston, New Orleans, Austin, TX and Lake Charles/Lafayette, LA starting tomorrow. Check the dates here, come say hi.
posted by chinese_fashion at 10:59 PM on June 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

Oh no, I wanted to post this - well: watch this video of Jeff on cancer and love - and go ahead and cry - I did.

Chasing Away the Big Black Bird
posted by mathiu at 1:50 AM on June 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

The only problem with The Moth is that I listen to it in the car and then I hear the Empathetic Screaming Match on NYC Subway (linked above) and I'm laughing so hard it's a struggle not to crash the car into a bunch of trees.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 2:23 AM on June 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much for sharing all of that. I'm a longtime journeyman comic who has edged toward storytelling, so I find this all fascinating.

Huge TAL fan (and Snap Judgment) via NPR obviously. I listen to the Moth too and love many stories but sometimes it seems often ... hmm ... a bit, inorganic? Like pulling the tricks they know that crowds will love, instead of being more personal and quirky in a Birbigliesque kind of way? No offense to you, your stories here are excellent. ("pile of antlers" for example is great)
posted by msalt at 11:23 PM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I heard and loved and could never forget your Empathetic Screaming Match. Delighted that you are MeFite's Own!
posted by apartment dweller at 7:47 PM on June 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

this is good
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 4:15 AM on June 26, 2017

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