Stories about story night

13Aug11

So last night, as I said, I went along to the Artisphere in Rosslyn* for The Politics of Science, a night of true stories about, well, politics and science, hosted by Story League and The Story Collider.

If you’re a This American Life listener (almost all the people who read this blog are white, university-educated, and in their mid-20s, so it therefore stands to reason that you definitely all are tuning in) then you’ve heard this kind of thing before – true stories told live in front of an audience. It’s not quite stand-up, although the stories often are funny. And it’s not exactly a “dramatic monologue” style thing either, although they are definitely performances. Somewhere between the two?

Anyway, I’d heard quite a few of these types of things on various podcasts, but I’d never been to one live. So glad I did! It was a fantastic night; there were seven performers, and apart from one lackluster woman in the middle, everyone was great. The most impressive performance had to be from Adam Ruben, who came on second – he was doing great, telling us about how conflicted he felt having to do tests on rats during grad school. We’d just reached a tense moment – death of the first rats – when there was a shout from the audience: “hey, medical emergency here!”

Turns out a guy had passed out in the second row. Luckily there was a “doctor in the house” (along with a lot of PhDs, who I imagine felt slightly awkward when the cry of “is there a doctor in the house?” went up) who took control. Long story short, we ended up having an early 20 minute intermission, the paramedics came, the guy was apparently fine, but was carted off in an ambulance anyway. I actually found it really impressive how calm and collected everyone was; there was no useless and pointless crowding round to offer unhelpful assistance, and the venue staff were great.

Even more impressive, though, was Adam Ruben’s ability to just jump straight back into his story when we eventually got started again. It was like he never stopped. Awesome stuff.

Awesome night all round, really. I’m definitely going to look into going to more of Story League’s events in DC (Story Collider is New York-based). I also got chatting to the guy I was sitting next to (between the medical emergency and the late start there was a lot of time for chatting), who runs the the DC Science Cafe, a series of events where scientists come in and talk about their work. Next month he’s got NASA’s “planetary protection officer” coming to talk about her work. Planetary protection! Awesomeness!

*Rosslyn is so weird. I’d never been out there before – seems like just a barren wasteland of boring office-buildings. And then, hidden away behind an unassuming facade is Artisphere, which is this incredible vibrant art hub, with crazy exhibitions (they’ve got one at the moment on the art of the animated gif) and a huge line-up of events. From what I can tell, Artisphere really is the only reason you would voluntarily cross the river to Rosslyn.

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2 Responses to “Stories about story night”

  1. 1 Sandro

    “you definitely all are tuning in”

    You know very well that at least one of your readers has a certain antipathy toward Ira Glass…

    • 2 justsomethings

      I was actually discussing this with Emma last night – she doesn’t listen to This American Life much either because of her hatred for Ira Glass. You should compare notes.


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