In its format, The Moth can be as cathartic for the speaker as it is for the audiences. (Image via Montgomery Advertiser)

In an Increasingly Digital World, The Moth Keeps Storytelling Human

The non-profit hosts events across the world that give talented speakers a venue to share their hilarious, moving and sometimes horrifying stores.

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The non-profit hosts events across the world that give talented speakers a venue to share their hilarious, moving and sometimes horrifying stores.

The Moth is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the art and craft of storytelling. At its live events, the audience are the storytellers and the stories they tell make up the library of content that is later broadcasted on The Moth’s website. Moth stories are always true and told by volunteers in front of a live audience.

In a practice of empathy, Moth shows have an eloquent personal touch that feature human experience. Each event hosts unique talks from people of many different walks of life. The Moth invites all story tellers to their events, giving anyone the chance to be heard. Individuals from the audience control the outcome of the night. The stories they tell can be intimate and personal, or brave and bold.

The non-profit organization is going into its 21st year and has gained quite a large following. In 2010, “The Moth Radio Hour” won a Peabody Award, recognizing the most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and online media. Three live events highlight the tiers of production, including “Mainstage,” “StorySLAMS” and “GrandSLAMS.”


Mainstage events are certain to be brilliant because they are “curated events featuring five tellers who develop and shape their stories with [Moth] directors.” These events will likely make the podcast or radio hour because they are structured with the assistance of Moth story representatives.

The storytellers at the main stage consists of well-known personalities, past StorySLAM/GrandSLAM winners or even first-time tellers who submitted their story through The Moth Pitchline.

The Moth provides listeners and storytellers the chance to share their lives. (Image via South Dakota Public Broadcasting)


These events have a theme associated to it, which is announced well before the date of the show. By choice, audience members can prepare a five-minute talk beforehand, and, once the event is about to begin, they can put their names in a bowl for random selection. If selected, the audience member of choice can share their story right then and there.

These are not just open-mic nights, but open-mic competitions. Three groups of four judges are selected from the crowd to vote on each story. The shows consist of 10 volunteer storytellers, and, at the end of the night, the teller with the most points wins the StorySLAM.


After 10 StorySLAMS in one city, the winners advance to compete in what is called a GrandSLAM. All 10 participants must come up with a new story to tell. This event is full of many different emotions, and, due to their rarity, these major events are sure to be good.

Where Is The Moth?

Reaching out everywhere, Moth story programs are currently ongoing in 29 cities. Venues all over the United States, the UK and Australia host The Moth.

The best way to check to see if they are coming near you is to look at the event page. Tickets are also cheap — around $10 for the night. Seats are first come, first serve or completely standing room only — totally worth it.

Hosted at numerous of American cities, The Moth opens up its mics to anyone. (Image via The Moth)

Cultural Impact

The Moth is making a positive impact on the lives of individuals and groups alike. The non-profit allows for people all over the world to practice a fundamental human right: The right to freedom of speech. Not all talks are political or culturally relevant, although some are, but some come from a space of personal enlightenment or just aim for a good laugh.

Moth stories provide a platform for people to tell others what they’ve seen, done, heard and more. This organization has served as a contributor to civil rights movements, mental illness awareness/prevention and so much more.

A lot of the talks are simply just forms of comedic relief from everyday life. The Moth guarantees to present a heartwarming event each and every time. Even if all 10 stories aren’t GrandSLAM worthy at one StorySLAM, it is still amazing to see people have the guts to volunteer and tell their own story in front a large crowd of strangers.

This world needs more of The Moth and The Moth needs more of the world. I recently went to an event in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Only 15 people volunteered out of hundreds in the crowd. I respect those who chose not to volunteer (I was one of them), but as a culture, we shouldn’t be afraid to tell our stories. It should be welcomed because it creates and promotes growth within individuals.

In a world of negativity, this broadcast allows people to escape from the concept that everything must be internalized and that we are alone.

People taking the time to listen to strangers, regardless of the topic, may very well be one of the biggest acts of love that this world has to offer.

Writer Profile

Bradley Howlett

Grand Valley State University

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