A disastrous—and hysterical—one-night stand that involved riding the train, pants-less, during the wee hours of the morning.
The adoption process for a couple who could not conceive: “It was the most amazing thing to me that a total stranger gave us this child—our child is now five and she’s the love of my life.”
A late-night, post-prom impromptu rap battle in a restaurant with a mysterious man named MC Bloodthirst.
These were just a few of the 10 true stories that were shared at Monday night’s The Moth event, held at the Airbnb Haus during the Sundance Film Festival. Each participant who took the stage for StorySLAM delivered a five- to six-minute tale—impressively, without notes—that explored the topic of “When Two Strangers Meet.” The range of narratives proved that strangers can play myriad roles in our lives, from bringing us closer to loved ones to simply providing a great anecdote.
The storytellers were rated by a trio of judges and one was ultimately crowned the winner of the StorySLAM: Kim received scores of 9.6, 9.4, and 9.5 (out of 10). She recounted a childhood interaction with a woman with cerebral palsy. Upon incorrectly assuming that Kim and her brother were making fun of her—Kim had just crashed into a plate-glass window and was staggering about—the woman said to them: “You know why I walk this way?” she asked, referring to her limp. “Because I was born this way.”
Those words especially resonated with Kim, who is transgender, when she first transitioned. “When you go out in public for the time, the thing you’re most afraid of is everybody pointing at you and mocking you and laughing at you…What really happened [that night] is that I learned to see the world through her eyes. And that’s why ever since then, I’ve just been very very thankful that I slammed into that window. That I ran into this complete stranger in an alley. And that I learned that we all walk with a little bit of a limp.”
Earlier in the day, Sarah Austin Jenness, a producing director with The Moth, conducted a panel with comedian Seth Herzog and comedic writer/performer Brian Finkelstein. Entitled “Always Talk to Strangers,” it focused on the relationship between strangers and storytelling.
According to Brian, their line of work propels them to jump at opportunities that others might not. “I do think that there are times when things come up that a normal person, with a normal job, would not necessarily say yes to. Because you think, There’s no way this is not going to be interesting. Whether it’s a bit, a story, or a joke—I know it’s something that’s going to be fun to talk about.”
Seth, who does a weekly show in New York City with his mom, also shared some wise words from her: “There’s no such things as strangers—just friends you haven’t met yet.”
This is a guest post by Anh-Minh Le who is the editor in chief and cofounder of Anthology Magazine, as well as a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and SFC&G. She is also an Editor at Large for California Home + Design. Travel and design are among her passions, and browsing Airbnb listings never fails to give her a serious case of wanderlust.