During the live event last night, I noticed that a major part of the live storytelling genre (and of Moth performances, more specifically) is community. The hosts tried to make the audience members feel part of a group, cracking “inside” jokes about NPR listeners and speaking familiarly with the crowd. Also, I think the inclusion of the mini stories built community, since the stories showed that the audience members had their own interesting experiences to share. This created a sense of us all being there not just to hear the stories of a select few performers, but to share our stories too. In a similar vein, I found that the most emotionally impactful stories were those with relatable or sympathetic elements.
I think that the community-building aspect of the Moth is what makes people keep returning to shows — they feel like they’re part of something collective and constructive. This is also what keeps people telling their stories (I wouldn’t want to open up unless I had a familiar, supportive audience). Community is not only important to the Moth genre, but to storytelling in general. We tell stories to find commonalities, relate to one another, and learn from one another. If the audience isn’t willing to participate in the storytelling in some way, it’s not going to be as effective.