Moth Radio Hour

While I spent my Tuesday night listening to an informative, yet noticeably long, two hour speech on risk management throughout a business career, a weekly edition of mandatory sessions for all Ross BBA Sophomores, I’m sure my peers were enjoying the interesting stories being told at The Moth Story Slam at Zingerman’s Greyline. I had to opt to listening to The Moth Radio Hour podcast. I listened to the episode “Something Borrowed, Something New” which consisted of four stories, each revealing personal hardships faced by an individual, which appears as a common theme for this medium.

Nacho Challenge by Omar Qureshi

Omar shares his story of growing up as a Muslim in Missouri, and the complex relationship that formed between himself and his home, dealing with both good and racist people. He speaks towards the difficult situation his father was placed in, as his main priority was to keep his family safe, and in certain restaurants or barbershops the animosity was apparent. Omar faced racism himself while attempting the Nacho Challenge at his favorite restaurant, as the waiter doubted his ability to eat 8 lbs of nachos since he was “an Arab.” This fueled Omar to accomplish this challenge. Omar then dives into the growth of the Muslim community during his time in Missouri, and how they even built a mosque for the community. When that mosque then was burned down, Omar fears for his family, who he knew were worshipping there the prior evening. They were okay but he doubted if the Muslim community as whole was safe in his town anymore. This doubt was relieved when he got a letter from a stranger mentioning how the Muslim community was there for the rest of the town after a tornado hit, yet the town wasn’t there for them after the mosque was burned down.

Love You Like a Hurricane Etsy Wedding by Kari Adams

Kari shares the story of her disaster wedding in which everything that could go wrong practically did. She planned so much and cared about every little detail, but then a hurricane came and destroyed those plans. Still, they ended up making the most of the wedding, and she realized the little things aren’t as important as the people there. Her story then counters unexpectedly as she reveals a divorce followed, and her distraction with the wedding probably kept her from realizing her ex-husband and her were not ready for marriage.

Tantric Body Paint by Donna Otter

Donna’s story also involves divorce, this time after 21 years of marriage. To try to put herself back out there she accepted an invitation to a naked body paint party with complete strangers. When she got there, however, her ex-husband was also in attendance. She describes the awkward, yet spiritual experience of being forced to connect with her ex-husband for the first time intimately. In a series of exercises before the party began, each woman had to connect individually with each man. When she was forced to come across her ex-husband the moderator asked the couple to pretend they had a complex past and embrace each other to move towards the future. It was fitting, and emotional, and she gained a sense of closure to move on.

Pregnant Man by Trystan Reese

Trystan shares the story of his journey of giving birth as a transgender man. It’s a story of great difficulty, as after his story went viral, his facebook messages and twitter feeds were filled with hateful attacks from strangers. Still, Trystan overcomes the doubt and fear he felt throughout his pregnancy to successfully give birth to a baby boy.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these stories as they were heartfelt, personal and surprising. It’s easy to forget how everyone we encounter, every stranger we walk by, has their own story and has gone through their own challenges in life. From listening to these four stories I realized some common elements of a powerful moth story. First, all of them are very therapeutic, as the storyteller is opening up to complete strangers. It’s an opportunity to vent to a group that won’t judge and is eager to listen. This aspect of the moth story-telling format makes story-tellers more comfortable and raw. Another common theme is the use of humor. All four of these stories were about hardships and emotional challenges that took a toll on the story-teller, but, like any human, the authors often times resorted to humor to poke fun at a certain situation or person. This relieved the audience during some difficult topics, and again, made all the stories feel more real and raw. Finally, these stories all shared a similar ending in which the story-teller reaches a lesson to be learned, or a takeaway they now carry with them. For Omar it was the need to continually make an effort to understand others and for them to understand you; for Kari it was that the details aren’t as important as the people, and people’s actions matter greatly; for Donna it was about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and moving past pain; and for Trystan it was about facing your own fears and maintaining focus on what you believe in.

I’m glad for this introduction to Moth stories and I plan on listening to more.

2 thoughts to “Moth Radio Hour”

  1. Humour is definitely a huge component of The Moth stories. Even with the first one regarding the ‘Nacho Challenge,’ we can already envision a lighthearted story that slowly delves into a more deeper issue using comedy. That story then concluded on a more serious tone, but the comedic vibes set in the beginning allow the audience to feel more comfortable with the gradual seriousness. You definitely had a very good share of interesting stories that you heard; I thought they were all very complex and intriguing to read–especially the last one!

    I like that you pointed out the therapeutic component of The Moth. I did not really perceive it as therapeutic initially, but because the audience is so involved and committed to listening (and actively engaging with feedback), there exists such a tight-knit community that is eager to support everyone there. For those who want to share something they have been hiding out of insecurity or any reason, I think speaking it to a supportive community (of strangers, essentially) is a comforting outlet.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I completely agree on the therapeutic aspects of storytelling — I think that the fact that often writers will write pieces simply for themselves and not necessarily heavily gear the content towards a particular audience is often overlooked and underrated. Pieces are often expected to have some external purpose, whether that purpose is to persuade or to explain to an audience. The genre of storytelling is unique in that it is simply there for a person to be open about an experience and possibly connect to an audience through its humanity.

    I think this goes with how although the storyteller themselves took away a lesson and stated that towards the end of their pieces, the audience doesn’t necessarily need to take away the same lesson. They’re simply there to act as an audience — as you put it, a group of people who are eager to listen. You also mentioned their shared senses of humor as means to lighten the situation, which is a solid move in the genre of storytelling. I think that these same pieces, without those bits of humor, would potentially detract from the stories as a whole; it might take away some of the piece’s humanity in that the resilience that these storytellers often display would be toned down.

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