See you tomorrow!

Hi Everyone,

I hope to see a bunch of you at the show tomorrow. The theme is “Not getting what you want – Stories of coming up short.”

Not getting what you want – Stories of coming up short

Thursday, Oct 18, 2018, 7:00 PM

Roy Street Coffee & Tea
700 Broadway East – Seattle, WA

27 Story Fans Attending

As a frequent reader of inspirational sayings, I’m constantly amazed at how many people are able to convince themselves that not getting what they wanted is just what they needed. Who are these people who are always finding another door opening while the one in front of them is closing? I’ve smashed my foot in dozens of doors that I should have let…

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I was poking around YouTube tonight looking for a good story to get you excited about the show and I found one from a fellow right here in Seattle. It wasn’t until I watched it that I realized I’ve never told my own story about a similar experience I had with my son. It made me wonder what’s been keeping me from doing that.

I’ve don’t know the guy telling this story but he’s the kind of person I’d probably enjoy talking to. I’m going to contact him and see if he’d like to tell a story at FGS one day. Until then, enjoy the story he told at The Moth in Seattle a couple years ago.

I hope you’re having a good week. See you tomorrow at Roy St 🙂



Not getting what you wanted – Stories of coming up short

As a frequent reader of inspirational sayings, I’m constantly amazed at how many people are able to convince themselves that not getting what they wanted is just what they needed. Who are these people who are always finding another door opening while the one in front of them is closing? I’ve smashed my foot in dozens of doors that I should have let close because I was convinced that another one would never open. That conviction is why it takes me years to get over my failures.

I stopped doing comedy in 2007 but it wasn’t until 2014 that I finally began to be grateful for everything I learned playing those horrible rooms around the country. Dying onstage at the Chucklehut in Bupkes, Nevada, or bombing at the Shangri-Laff in Goiter, Wyoming, taught me more about writing and speaking than anything I could learn in an MFA program. I just wish it hadn’t taken me seven years to finally stop beating myself up for all those nights of public failure.

When I discovered I was going to become a father at 23 I thought I was going to have to give up all the dreams I had carried with through my childhood. It wasn’t until my son was well into grade school that I realized how lucky I was to have this little person teaching me about the joy of commitment and the sense of composure that comes with humility. Why wasn’t I able to see that sooner? Why did I spend almost a decade berating myself for making a kid before I was ready?

A few minutes ago I was telling a friend that nothing I’m grateful for has come to me through my intellect or ability to reason. I’ve never been able to think myself into forgiving someone or reason my way out of anger. All the things I’m grateful for have come from not getting what I wanted. That’s probably not the best thing to bring up in a job interview or a first date but it’s something I think about a lot. It’s one of those things you can’t really accept until you’ve been through it. I can’t tell my son that one day he’ll be grateful he didn’t get the job he applied for. But I can make sure I’m around a few years down the road when he’s ready to talk about it. It’s one of those things that seems like complete nonsense until suddenly it isn’t. It’s good to not always get what you want. It just sucks that it doesn’t feel that way when the thing you desperately wanted is flying out the window.

And that’s the kind of story we’re looking for this month. Tell us about a time when you didn’t get what you wanted. How did it happen and what does it mean to you now? Are you glad you didn’t get it? Are you still upset about it now? What did you tell yourself then and what do you tell yourself now?

Make sure the story has a beginning, middle, and an end and that you can tell it in under 8 minutes. Remember to keep it clean, practice out loud as much as possible, and run it by friends if you can. Those are the best ways I know to tighten up a story and figure out where to make changes. And you can always call or write me if you need any help.

The show is October 18, at 7pm, at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.

Here are the rules and guidelines for telling a story if you haven’t seen them in a while.

See you on the 18th!


Thank you!

Wow, what an amazing night last Thursday was. Lots of great first-timers. Lots of beautiful stories. We even managed to end on time without me having to bump anyone. My heart is full when Mr. Coffee is empty and everyone who practiced their story that month gets to tell it 🙂

We started off with David T telling us a story about walking across America to support nuclear disarmament. Did he stop when he found himself in a nudist colony? No. Did we take a week off when he found himself in Las Vegas? No. This is top-tier commitment, folks. I personally would have stayed a little longer in the nudist camp and that is probably why the world is the way it is. I start out trying to do something important and then I get distracted by something shiny.

Our next teller was a woman I met at a storytelling open mic in Tacoma called Something To Tell. I asked her to tell the story I heard that night at our show. She had to change a few things to stay within the rules for FGS but I’m really happy she showed up and shared her story. She told us what it was like to be diagnosed with an STI and how she decided to face it head-on. I was blown away when she told the story in Tacoma and just as impressed when she told it at Roy St. If we’re lucky, we’ll hear this story on the radio later this year. It’s exactly the kind of story a lot of people need to hear.

Jonathan went next and told a story he had prepared months ago but got bumped on a night when we had too many tellers. I don’t want to try to retell it here but it was a story of love and lies and it started right there at Roy Street Coffee and Tea. Who knew our little cafe was such a hotbed of love and intrigue? Next time I get up to Seattle I’m going to hang out at Roy St just to watch the mating rituals of Seattleites in the wild.

First-timer Lance told a story that brought me right back to Alaska in the 80s. I was a teenager back then and blowing up cars with just as much regularity as Lance apparently. What is it about teenage boys and wrecking cars? And how did so many of us live to tell the stories? If I ran Allstate I would never insure any male under 25.

Another first-timer, Brooklyn, somehow managed to take up the entire stage with her energy. She was amazing to watch. Technically, her story was about a crazy cab ride in France but she could have told us about eating a bowl of Lucky Charms and she would have made it just as exciting. Brooklyn is one of those people you hope you end up in a cab with one day because you know you’re going to remember that ride forever. I’m looking forward to hearing more about her life 🙂

If you’re counting words, you know I’m running out of space so I’m going to end with this one memory. In December of 2016, a woman named Susan wrote to tell me that she caught our April 2016 show and really enjoyed it. She said that she and her husband were moving from Cleveland to Seattle in 2017 and looked forward to coming to our show more regularly when they settled in. From her story last Thursday, it looks like Susan From Cleveland has definitely settled in. She told us about a Seattle bus driver named Bonnie who is possibly the friendliest person in the entire city. The weird thing is that after experiencing the most uplifting mass transit ride of her life, Susan never saw Bonnie again. She’s ridden the bus a bunch of times since then and Bonnie has never reappeared. Does route 545 have a lovable ghost driver that you only see once in your life??

After her story, I asked a Metro bus driver in the audience if he’d ever heard of Bonnie. He said he had but he had also only seen her once. Who is this mysterious Bonnie?! Susan gave me permission to share her story online so I’m going to post it in the hopes that we can get to the bottom of this Bonnie business. Was she a driver from fifty years ago who died during her shift and now shows up occasionally to take people for a spin? Is she the Loch Ness Bus Driver of King County? The Ghost of Transfers Past? Nathan Vass, hall of fame bus driver and FGS regular, has already agreed to poke around the haunted bus terminal downtown to see what he can find out. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can get hear more of Susan’s storytelling in her TEDx talk at WWU. It’s a great example of using storytelling to teach:

Before I let you get back to your weekend, I want to make sure everyone knows that FGS will now be held on the third Thursday of each month and not the fourth. I’m changing it to third Thursdays for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I won’t have to change the dates every November and December to schedule around the holidays. The second and more important reason is that everyone will now be able to attend Maryanne Moorman’s open mic. Her show is held on the last Thursday of each month so it usually conflicted with FGS. But no more! Now we can all go to her show and not have to miss FGS 🙂

You can tell a much wider variety of stories at Maryanne’s show so if there’s a story you’ve been keeping in your notebook for a while this is the place to bring it. I’ll be driving up from Olympia as often as I can to be there.

Auntmama’s Storytable
Last Thursday of each month
6:45 pm to 8pm
Madison Park Starbucks
4000 East Madison St
Seattle, WA 98112

Also, did you know that Snap Judgment is coming to Seattle? It is!

Our next show is October 18 and the theme is “Not Getting What You Want.” I’ll get the official invite out as soon as I can.

Thanks again to everyone who shared a story last Thursday. I’m sorry that I didn’t have the time and space to write about each story here. I’m already over a thousand words and we all know the average attention span is about 75 words. There are probably four people still reading this. But to those four people who made it this far, you missed a great show.

See you all on the 18th 🙂


Good stuff coming up

Hello Beautiful People,

I know our show isn’t until Sept 27 but there are some cool things coming up that I want to tell you about.

Firstly, I’m hosting an open mic at the Seattle Storytellers Guild on Friday the 21st that you’re all invited to. The rules are the same as FGS and the theme is “Wake Up Call” – a theme we did a couple months ago. Feel free to tell a story you’ve told at FGS or a brand new one on that theme. I pasted the details from the Guild’s announcement below. Contact either of the two women if you have any questions about the show.

Sept. 21, Haller Lake Storytelling Evenings, 7:30-9:30

“WAKE UP CALL!” – Stories of Things You can’t Avoid. Hosted by Paul Currington

Bring along an 8 Minute Personal Story on our theme and drop your name in the hat for an opportunity to tell it.

Due to the unavailability of our usual Venue that evening, we’ll meet at Halcyon Clubhouse, 12233 Ashworth Ave North. (Don’t use Google Maps!)

From the Haller Lake Community Club, go South to 122nd, (where Densmore curves to the left. Turn Right on 122nd, go one block, then Right on Ashworth (despite the Dead End sign). The Clubhouse will be on the left.  Look for our Sign.

Free, snacks provided; donations welcome. Contact: Patty,,  or MaryAnne Moorman at for more information

Secondly, one of our regular tellers will be on KNKX’s Sound Effect tomorrow. Sam Blackman, multiple MothSlam winner and all-around good guy, will be talking with Gabe Spitzer on 88.5 tomorrow. The show starts at 10am but I don’t know when Sam’s segment will be on. If you miss the live broadcast, I’ll send out a link to his segment when it’s available.

Lastly, I want to let you know about a special show on November 10 and 11. Bill Bernat, one of our regular tellers, is helping produce the annual NAMI storytelling fundraiser. Me and a few other tellers from FGS have been helping eight courageous people share their stories of living with or supporting people with mental health challenges. Bill has done a ton of work to get this show together and I hope some of you can come see it.

Bill Radke, host of KUOW-FM‘s The Record and Week In Review, will be the emcee on November 10 🙂

The tickets are pricey because it’s a fundraiser, but if you know anyone who would like to see this show and support NAMI at the same time please forward the link to them.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a great weekend. See you on the 27th!


FGS: Taking Chances

September’s theme is Taking Chances. I’ve always wished I was the type of person who takes chances. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m more comfortable taking baby steps toward something I want and then beating myself up for years afterward if it doesn’t work out. If there was a mental triathlon that involved running over everything I did wrong, swimming in a sea of despair, and biking through the Valley of Regret, I would be in the top ten every year.

For the last few years, though, I’ve experimented with taking more chances. I’ve told stories onstage never thought I’d tell. I’ve disagreed with people I love hoping they’d still love me when I stopped talking. And I’ve tried to remain open to romantic love (though I seem to flip flop on that daily). If you knew me 20 years ago you’d say I’ve come a long way. And I have. But there’s one thing I’ve been wrestling with for two years that I haven’t been able to do. Every month that goes by gets added to the already ridiculous amount of time I’ve spent avoiding this this thing and it makes it even harder.

Two years ago I agreed to write a speech about how to normalize mental health problems. Since then, I’ve written draft after draft and thrown them all away. I’ve worked with storytellers, comedians, and professional speech coaches and I hate every word I’ve written. All I have to do is share my own story of dealing with depression and give people a few ideas on what I think will help make it easier to talk openly about mental health issues. For a guy who spends hours on stage telling personal stories this shouldn’t be a problem. But it is. It’s a big problem. It’s a problem because I’m stuck in “What if?”

What if someone takes my advice and gets hurt?

A big part of dealing with mental health problems is to stop pretending you don’t have one. But who am I to tell anyone to come out of the closet with their black dog in tow? What right do I have to tell anyone to take a chance and trust people?

I’m not worried about myself because I have a big mouth. If I hear someone say people with depression are weak, I’m more than happy to get in that person’s face and tell them what’s what. When I hear someone say that anyone who takes their own life is a coward, I joyfully start loading the verbal howitzer. It’s one of the few places in my life when I truly don’t care about the consequences. Too many people I love live with these things for me to not speak up about them.

But this speech, man. It’s got me running scared. This thing I gotta write, it’s not about getting angry and setting people straight. It’s about asking a stranger in an audience to have faith that admitting they struggle with depression can be the best thing they’ve ever done for themselves. Who am I to tell people how to handle their depression? And at the same time, who am I to assume they can’t handle what I say?

Now that I’ve said all that, I will tell you that I promised myself last week that I would finish this speech. I made that promise when I decided the theme for our next show was Taking Chances. Maybe if I heard some stories of you guys taking chances it’ll help me take one. So I hope some of you will come to Roy Street on Sept 27 and tell a story about a time when you took a chance. Your story doesn’t need to have a happy ending. It can be about a time when you took a chance and it didn’t work out. It just needs to be about taking that chance and what you learned from it.

Remember to keep it clean, practice out loud and on friends, and time yourself so you know it’s under 8 minutes.

Here are the rules and guidelines for telling a story with us:

If you ever want help on a story I’m happy to do that. Feel free to email me or call if you like. I’ve had a number of people recently ask me for a good book on storytelling. This is my favorite:

I hope to see you on Thursday, September 27, 7pm at Roy Street Coffee and Tea