5 - You get five minutes to tell your story.
4 - They got to be FOR Real. The stories have to have happened in real life. Doesn't have to have happened to you, could be someone you know etc, but they have to be non-fiction.
3 - There are 3 judges, they score each story 1-10, based on theme - presentation - and time.
2 - You have to tell the story TO the audience. You can't stare at the microphone, or off into space, etc.
1 - There is only one winner.
Anyways, I've been wanting to actually go to the show, but stuff keeps getting in the way. This month's topic was 'Caught in the Act' - Stories about pants-down, red-handed, nailed to the wall, dead-to-rights guilt or some such. And unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to make it to the next So Say We All again. I wanted to watch my friend Schmidty turn out another amazing performance, he's a reigning champ 2 months in a row now. Even more sad for me though, is that I was going to put my name in the hat if I did get a chance to go. And now I can't, but here's the story I would've planned to tell if I did get chosen this month.
Now, I'm not what you would call, a natural story teller. I have a hard time just telling a story in a manner that flows like a book. Where you're walking down a literature lined path that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, all laid out in good fashion. No, when I tell my stories, they are eclectic, full of divergences and analogies. You might say that the stories you've heard from these other people, could be like guided missiles, where they launch, follow a set path, and explode in a dramatic conclusion. Well if you could say that, then I would say that my stories are the equivalent of carpet bombing. Just clusters of ideas flung out everywhere, obliterating entire sections of your mind, blowing your capacity for reasoning and understanding back to the stone age.
You see, I tend meander from point to point, in a rapidfire succession sort of way. I mean, there's always a logical link or series of links to follow, but often times my listeners are just passengers on my bullet train of thought. Whizzing so fast through the landscape of my mind, that you can't really pay attention to the scenery, you can only focus on the embarkation point, and the final destination, and wonder how the hell you got from one place to the other. For instance, the time I was telling my friends that I love york peppermint patties, and in the next breath I'm saying 'You know, I like drinking coffee, because it makes my pee smell like Columbia."
For those of you who missed the stops along the way there, and I see most of you have, it goes like this: York Peppermint Patties, Yum! -> They're like mint chocolate chip icecream in a convenient package -> mint chocolate chip ice cream is awesome -> but my favorite flavor of Ice Cream is Coffee -> But Coffee flavored Ice Cream is nothing like real Coffee -> I can't stand real coffee without a ton of sugar and cream to sweeten it -> But I can't drink too much coffee cause it'll makes my pee smell like coffee -> Actually, I like the smell of coffee -> Coffee comes from Columbia -> Columbia must smell like Coffee -> I like drinking coffee cause it makes my pee smell like Columbia.
And for the record, I don't actually know if the entire country of Columbia smells like coffee. But in my mind it does, and as we've just established, my mind is a terrifyingly strange place.
But I digress, like I was saying, I'm a random fellow, and I'm hard to follow. I'm like a boxer of story telling. I bob and weave from here and there, and you try to follow along, having a time doing so, and you just when you think you've got my rhythym and can see where I'm headed, BAM! Punchline. You're floored. The ref's counting you out, and you have no idea what happened, and you're just trying to get your brain off the mat and make sense of everything.
If you haven't noticed by now, I'm pretty fond of evocative imagery and concepts. Missile explosions and carpet bombings. Bullet trains and scenery whizzing around the mountains of Columbia. The sweet smell of coffee, the crisp taste of mint... the pungent aroma of urine. From the looks on your faces, I can see some of you just suddenly imagined the taste of urine. See, the brain's kind of weird like that. If you hear something, with images, smells, and tastes, your brain gets into it. It starts bringing up your memories from the past, and linking them, forming neuron connections, putting everything into perspective to better understand and remember what you're hearing. If you start going through a list of smells and tastes, the brain follows along, and then you slide in an unpleasant idea, and it's too late to stop it, your brains in association mode, and Bam... Emeril's taking it up a notch and you're stuck with urine in your mouth. Now, the really funny thing is that sooner or later in the future, someone's going to quote an Emeril Bam for some reason, and you're going to be standing there with a bad taste in your mouth and not know why. It's just your subconscious... screwing with you. Tracing back these neuron connections that I'm making for you right now.
But it's these connections that make story telling possible really. It's shared or similar experiences that allow me to relate to you a string of words and sounds, and allow you to put them together and come to a shared understanding of an idea or a concept that I'm illustrating for you.
For instance, Ernest Hemingway once had a challenge to write a complete story in just six words. Six words. That's a pretty impressive feat, you gotta admit. Those have got to be some pretty big and impressive words to convey an entire story, right?
Not really. The story he wrote was six very simple words. "For sale: Baby Shoes. Never worn."
To me, that's some powerful stuff. But I've been around for a while, and I've read, seen, and heard a lot of things in my life. The images and associations I can come up with for those words, bring up a vast and varied array of contexts. I can see a hundred different stories in those words. I can see that simple story as a comedy. As a drama. As a mystery. I can see it as a tale of suspense, or even a Horror story. All from six simple words, and a huge web of associated ideas and experiences in my head. But if you tell that story to a child, they won't even get a fraction of the same meanings and depths that I do. The kid's just like 'Were they Nikes?'
But that's what story telling is I guess, it's the ability to put together a series of words, words that you can use to paint evocative pictures in your audience's head. But as a story teller, you have to hope that your audience has the color of paint that matches the brush that your using. And so, as my time nears an end, I can only hope that your minds have the right mental paint needed for the picture I'm about to show you. I present, to you my six word story:
Jesus Mom! Don't you ever knock!