STORYTELLING TONIGHT (12/16) AT THE SAINT

Humans are all about stories. It’s kind of our thing.

Stories in book, movie, and tv form are pretty obviously important to us. And history (especially the way we learn it) is laid out like one big long story, with more brutal deaths and confusing character realtionships than Game of Thrones. But stories are also the center of how we talk to each other. We do it sort of without thinking about it, with friends, family, and coworkers who might not want to hear about your weekend shenanigans but can’t hide from you because their cubicle doesn’t have a door. There are stories that we plan and have ready to go, that we bust out on first dates and at parties.

Everyone has a story, but not everyone gets to share it in front of people, and elevate it to an art form. Except at the Saint in Asbury Park (601 Main St) on Monday, December 16 from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Everyone and anyone can get up on stage and share their two- to ten-minute story. You can’t read it off of paper, this isn’t an open mic. The story has to be told naturally, from your brain right out to the people in front of you.

The inspiration for the Saint’s night of storytelling comes from public radio, home of the nationally-running Moth Hour. Sharing stories fitting a theme, people (some of them famous, some of them not) get up on stage and spill. It’s fun to tell your own stories, but it’s amazing to hear those of other people, especially people you might never have met in your daily life.

I listened to the Moth obsessively when I had a job shelving books at my university’s library, and it may or may not have resulted in the occasional sniffle in the stacks (not that that’s very unusual in a campus library). But the stories aren’t always sad, or touching. They can be funny, inspirational, seriously messed-up, frightening, interesting, and weird. Basically anything a human can be, the stories they tell can be too.

Co-owner Scott Samper thought that what the Moth was doing was pretty cool, but decided not to wait around for them to come to Asbury. The first Night of Storytelling featured around 15 storytellers, with a variety of stories and backgrounds

“There were local musicians who told touring stories, we do the comedy shows so people from the comedy world came in and told some stories, staff members told some stories, ” says co-owner Scott Stamper.

“There was a truck drive outside that was sitting in his truck at the corner and I went out to ask if he had a story to tell, and the guy actually came in and we thought like ‘wow he actually came in, wow, will he tell a story?’ and he hung out for a bit and took a nap.”

Not only are people sharing stories, they’re generating stories about telling stories (meta enough for you yet?)

“It’s still developing, it’s just a cool little evening to experiment with what people do when they get together anyway, ” Stamper says.

The Saint is best known as a music venue, and the Night of Storytelling is technically under the umbrella of Asbury Café, a lineup of sit-down shows where the audience is asked to keep the chatter down and really listen to the bands.

“This is a good way to have another choice of entertainment at the Saint, ” Stamper says. “Listening to people tell stories, it’s a good way to spend a Monday night for a couple of hours.”

The lineup has yet to be fixed, as the night is made up of both walk-on performers and a set number of planned storytellers. Local notable Henry Vaccaro has been confirmed as the featured storyteller for this month’s show, and he’ll be sharing stories of his friendship with music legend (and onetime Asbury Park resident) Johnny Cash.

Photo at top: Scott Stamper, owner of The Saint

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