Arts & Culture

StorySlam turns humiliation into humor

By
Staff Writer
Monday, February 27, 2012

 

This was it — his moment of glory. It was the sixth-grade basketball tournament, and Nathaniel Shapiro ’12 finally had the ball and the confidence to take his shot. Unfortunately, it was on his team’s own basket. 

Shapiro introduced the Brown Storytellers’ “StorySlam” Friday and Saturday night with a heartbreakingly hilarious account of shooting not once, not twice but three times for the wrong team as a large crowd and his “foaming-mouth reading enthusiast” coach yelled from the sidelines.  

But Shapiro was never without good humor toward his humiliation, and his well-crafted tale — which garnered both empathy and plenty of laughter from the packed audience — set the tone for the event.   

“Most people bring in stories that are somewhat centered around laughing at themselves,” said Sarah Weiss ’15, who will be heading the Brown Storytellers next year along with Eli Bosworth ‘12.5 and Ben Schwartz ‘13.5. “It makes you realize that even if you’re in a situation that might seem pretty crummy at the time, there’s always a venue to make that into something good,” she said. 

The storytellers brought that attitude to the stage. The performers, including Weiss, Bosworth, Schwartz, Marc Briz ’14, Abe Pressman ’12, former Herald graphics editor, Shawn Saunders ’14 and Jonathan Topaz ’12, Herald editorial page editor, all found the humorous side in their own embarrassment or regret. 

Topaz, who founded the group in 2010, entertained with the saga of his insomnia — a well-delivered comedy that surprised the audience with several poignant moments.

 Schwartz and Pressman, who told equally humorous stories of potential loves found and lost, each ended his tale with an articulate and optimistic phrase about a lesson learned. 

This ability to weave together humor and insight is something the group actively works toward, Weiss said. At the group’s open meetings every week, students are invited to participate in storytelling exercises, listen to professional stories and practice telling their own tales. 

“It’s really an important skill to be able to share a story from start to finish in a compelling and interesting way,” she said. 

In the future, Brown Storytellers plans to collaborate with other groups on campus and expand their audience and membership, Weiss said. They plan to put on another show later this semester in a venue that can hold a larger audience.