By Michael Shain
Storytelling. It’s the oldest thing in entertainment.
And it’s making a comeback, thanks in some part to a 6-year-old radio show called “The Moth.”
“The Moth” airs on over 200 NPR stations (in New York, it’s on Tuesday nights on WNYC-FM) and has just two rules — the story must be shorter than five minutes and it must be true.
The stories are recorded live, in front of an audience, on college campuses, at clubs and little theaters all over the country. The best are selected for the weekly radio show — and many of the rest are posted as part of the show’s popular podcasts.
Tickets for the first-ever “Moth storySLAM” in Queens, held last week at Flushing Town Hall, had been sold out since January.
Hopeful storytellers put their names in a black nylon bag at the start of the evening. A host picks the first one. After the first storyteller is done, he or she pulls the next name out of the bag, and so on until 10 stories are told and the night is done.
The tales at Flushing Town ranged from the heartbreaking — a cap-wearing widower who told of losing his wife to Alzheimer’s — to the providential a father who pulled his family out of a major train wreck, then hailed a cab out of town — to the bittersweet — from a son whose dying mother instructed him to bury her in, not in the cheapest, but the second-cheapest coffin he could find.
Only a fraction of the stories each month make the show, officials said. And if any of the Queens stories do, it will be some weeks before it happens.
“There is no guarantee any SLAM stories will make it on the radio/podcast,” a spokesman for the show said. “That said, I think there were some great stories [in Queens] so there is a possibility that some will make it sooner rather than later.”