Thank you everyone for another great night of stories. For the first time ever we had more first-timers than regulars. This is fantastic! It’s always a treat to watch people conquer their fears and walk up to the microphone.

One of my favorite moments from last Thursday was when one of our regular tellers stumbled in the middle of her story and apologized for not being able to remember the next line. Without hesitation the audience burst into applause. A room full of strangers wanted her to know that they were right there with her. It was a giant hug from a hundred people and just the nudge she needed to pick up the story again. I have only seen an audience do that one other time in my life.

In 1991 I got to see Richard Pryor live onstage. It was near the end of his life when he was deep in his MS and he had trouble remembering his set. He spoke much slower than he used to and there were long pauses after set ups as he tried to remember the punchline. Usually at those points someone would yell out “We love you Richard!”

Sometimes, when it was a joke we all knew from listening to his records, we would yell out cues to help him along.

About halfway through the show he began a joke we all knew by heart.

“I come from Tupelo, Mississippi.”

Then he stopped. Seconds ticked by uncomfortably. You could see in his face he was trying to remember what came next.

Finally, someone in the crowd yelled out, “Where’s that Richard?”

“Next to Onepelo, MotherF***R!”

You should have heard that crowd roar. We were helping our hero through his act. It didn’t matter that we knew all the jokes and the stories were 30 years old. It was our chance to give something back to a man who had made all our lives a little better and a little lighter through his comedy. It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.

That’s how I felt when you guys helped our regular through her story. She had been telling me parts of the story through emails and I was excited to hear her tell it live. When she stumbled in the middle trying to remember the next line I could see how upset she was. She had wanted to send the recording to the young man in the story whose kindness in a grocery store had so moved her weeks earlier. I know she thinks the recording is messed up but hearing the audience start applauding in the middle just to show their support was beautiful.

I don’t want to forget the first-timers who showed up ‘cos we heard some great stuff from them. Jessica shared a sweet story of Love & Hydrogen. Michael #1 told us how he found love on the polo fields. Kenji showed us how to make friends in Thailand. Scott gave us our very first story of inexplicable ghost-like phenomena. Vidya, my god, what can I say about Vidya? Our new friend somehow had the whole room laughing at all the people in her family who have died including herself. How did she manage to do that? I have no idea. Michael #2 gave us one of the most awkward proposition lines ever, “I would like to marry you if that’s something you’re interested in.” Did it work? Of course it worked 🙂

I especially want to thank Stephanie. She shared a story with us about her son that I won’t share here but I want her to know that it meant a lot to me that she trusted us enough to hear it. In this group Stephanie you’re not alone. I just want you to know that.

More big thanks to the regulars whom I always love to see walk through the door at Roy Street: Peter, Kat, David and Lynn. I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone. It’s four days later and the scraps of paper I take notes on during the show have scattered to the winds.

The recording turned out fine so if you told a story that night and would like the audio send me an email. I only give out recordings to the people who told a story and it’s only of the story they told. Most of our tellers don’t want their personal stories out there on the internet so that’s why I don’t post the shows on our Facebook or website.

I hope you can all make it to our next show on Thursday, August 25. The theme is Strangers. I’ll write up the official invite sometime next week so look for that in your inbox.

Take care everyone,

Paul

freshgroundstories@gmail.com

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