The Denver Moth StorySLAM - Love Hurts

February 2019

This is the first serious piece I've told from The Pineapple Story I tell my students. I changed the names of the boys in the story to honor the promise made to their mothers. This is a good introduction to The Pineapple Story. That’s Kevin Carlin in the background. He was the host of the show. Betsy Lamberson is the Producer.

The Story Project - Lips Against a Dirty Leather Shoe

March 2019

Produced by Sharon FriedMan and the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, Hosted by Patrick McConnell, recorded at the SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs

I am so grateful to Sharon and the Smokebrush Foundation for giving me the opportunity to share another story. Slowly but surely I am getting all the stories that I’ve been telling my students told to adults. I was nervous about sharing this one because I was more afraid about how adults would handle this than how kids have handled it. I’m glad it’s done. The only story left to share is THE PINEAPPLE STORY. I’m thinking I will have to do that one in pieces.


The Denver Moth GrandSLAM - Tipping Point

November 17th, 2018 At Denver University’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts in Denver

Introduction by Kevin Carlin.

I got to do another Moth GrandSLAM. I will say I forgot a key line in the middle of the story. There's a point where I was supposed to tell Connor, "You're stronger than you know." But a few weeks later I got to tell this story one more time at the BREWER’S CUP AWARDS DINNER. I asked Vanessa Shawver, who directs the BRewer’s Cup, if I could post a promotion for The Story Project on the BRewer’s Cup Facebook pAge and she said, “No, you can just tell us the story.” It was really fun telling the story to runners who knew people and places in the story and who could appreciate it in ways others might not.


The Story Project - Marathons

November 2018

Produced by Sharon FriedMan and the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, Hosted by Patrick McConnell, recorded at the SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs

On October 14th, 2018 I got to run a marathon with 2 of my children. Within a few weeks of that race I was telling another story at The Story Project about that race. IT was only a few weeks after the race, but hopefully you can tell that I had been thinking about it for years. It was fun sharing a story that involved no trauma. It's a bit long, but it's a story about getting to be a dad. And it was a first telling a NEW story.


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RISK! Live in Denver

October 4, 2018 at the Bluebird Theater in Denver

This was the best opportunity I’ve had to explain to adults WHY I TELL STORIES TO MY STUDENTS.

I’m so grateful to Kevin Allison and the Producers at RISK!

BE WARNED! THERE IS A REASON THEY CALL THE SHOW RISK! THE STORIES ARE UNCENSORED. YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP TO THE 37:30 MINUTE MARK TO JUMP RIGHT INTO MY STORY.

Last fall, With the encouragement of the Denver Moth Producer Betsy Lamberson, I pitched to RISK! And within 2 weeks I was telling this story. This was one of the most intense things I have ever done. I can’t believe they gave me 17 minutes to share a story I told at the Story Project in January 2017 and in two pieces at two Moth Slams.

At the beginning you hear someone yell, “Mr. McNeil!” After the show he came down to say hi. He was one of my students from about 20 years ago that just happened to come to the show. He wanted me to know that he remembers my stories and that he moved on from that algebra class to become an engineer! And, in addition to that, about a week before the show some of my more recent students at the high school where I teach said, “We were talking about how cool it would be if you were ever on RISK! and then we saw you’re doing a story on RISK!” They were also at the show. This was all so weird and SO COOL!


Raconteur

September 4, 2017 at Invisible City in Denver

Thanks to the host Amber Blais, I got a chance to share a story at something called Raconteur. I'm so grateful for the chance to share a story about my grandma. This was the first time I've told any of this. It's more of a story wrapped around a lot of fond memories. Sorry for the poor quality. It was recorded on my iPhone. I’d like to find a 5 minute story in here for the Moth.


Mortified

August 11, 2018 At the Oriental Theater in Denver

Produced by David Blatt, recorded on an iPhone. Sorry for the poor quality, but at least I had an iPhone.

Here’s a video of my part of the Mortified show in Denver. This experience has left me grateful for having to read my journals from 40+ years ago. At first I was depressed that nothing has really changed: I still get up, get ready, and go to school everyday. Then I had to reconsider my belief that I have been the same person my whole life. Then I found myself having different conversations with all 3 of my kids. And finally when you share this with others there is more understanding than harsh judgment. So I probably shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Thanks to Mortified and especially the producer, David, for making this unforgettable experience possible.


The Denver Moth StorySLAM - Love Hurts

February 2018 At Swallow Hill Music in Denver

My third Moth Slam. It was time to share one of the stories I tell my students. This is the second piece from the story I told at the Story Project in January 2017. But it was fun to wrap it in the context of my classroom. It is a story within a story. I was wondering if I could pull it off. I was pleased with the result.


The Story Project - Sober

January 2018

Produced by Sharon Friedman and the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, Hosted by patrick McConnell, and recorded at SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs.

Thanks to sharon for giving me a chance to share another story I tell my students. Thanks to my son Connor for recording this on video. My students don’t believe me when I tell them I’ve never been drunk or high. Do you? I’ve been sober my whole life. Maybe at end of this story, you will believe.


The Denver Moth GrandSLAM- Breaking Ground

December 2017 At Denver University’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts in Denver

Introduction by Kevin Carlin.

So I got to be in a moth GrandSlam at the Denver University’s Newman Center for the Performing arts. WOW! it was amazing to be in a venue of that size. I decided to tell a story that I tell my students. I tell it to them because I want them to know that in spite of the crazy things happening in the world they deserve people who are giving them their best! What made this really cool though was That most of my family was there along with so many friends and even some former students. It was easier to invite them when you know you get to tell a story for sure. At regular Slam you only get to tell a story if your name gets drawn from the bag.


The Story Project - Let’s Beef

July 14, 2017

Produced by Sharon Friedman and the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, hosted by Patrick McConnell, and recorded at the SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs.

It was a stormy summer night. The room has big retractable walls that open onto a patio. One of them was up and you can hear the rain in the background. Then, as if on cue, when I talk about a downpour in my story, the rain came down hard! It was totally awesome. This story is a very tiny bit of The Pineapple Story I tell my students. It was fun to share a story that had very little trauma.


The Denver Moth StorySLAM - Fresh

April 2017 at Swallow Hill Music in Denver

I didn’t know how the Moth works. Once you win a Slam, you are in the Grand Slam. I would have saved this story for another year. But I felt this sense of, “Get the stories out!” So I entered the next slam with this story about Dave Kohler adopting me. I wanted him to be there, but he had to cancel his plans at the last minute. I’m so grateful that the moth makes these great videos. It’s the next best thing to being there. This is not a story I tell my students. It was fun to make a new story. And it was way better the second time telling a story at a slam. I was prepared to let the audience do whatever it wanted. I went with the flow, letting them laugh when they felt like it and not worrying about the silence when I thought there would be laughter. It was a lot more fun. And it felt so good to prepare and tell a story about my dad and I! And I got the video in time to share it with him for Father’s Day


The Denver Moth StorySlam - Wonders

March, 2017 at Swallow Hill Music In Denver

This story is a 5 minute version of the story I told at the Story Project in January, 2017.

Before the Slam, the host, Kevin Carlin, went over the rules, including the rules about no notes or help. And then he joked, “there was this one time a guy got stuck and his wife yelled out the next line. So, that’s the only exception: your wife can help you.”

It is still painful to watch me freeze up in the middle of this story. I’ve thought a lot about what happened. I was discombobulated from the beginning when the audience was laughing when I was thought I was being serious and quiet when I thought I was being funny. I think that had something to do with me freezing up. I was trying to figure out what was going on as I was telling the story. I was literally figuring something out while I was telling a story. And when I froze, it was like my head was going to explode trying to remember what I wanted to say next. It was horrible. But then when I make the joke, I hear the audience laugh, and the story came back to me during their laughter. It was a good experience. when it was over, the producer, Betsy Lamberson, rushed over and told me not to let it bother me. I can’t describe how grateful I was for those words at that moment. But I can try: Thank you Betsy!


The Story Project - Empathy

January 13, 2017

Produced by Sharon Friedman and the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, Hosted by Patrick McConnell, and recorded at the SunWater Spa in manitou Springs

I’ve been telling stories to my math students for more than 35 years. My students and then my own children asked me to write the stories down. I spent 3 years working with Molly Wingate, a good friend and a professional writing coach. At the end of that process she said, “Now it’s time to go tell these stories to adults.”

So i thought I would start by telling a story that tries to justify why I tell my students stories. So I tell a story about the kind of success I have.

Thanks to sharon for giving me a chance to start sharing my stories to adults. Thanks to my son Connor for recording this on video. There was nothing he could do about the lighting. But it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to see my face. The only thing that really matters is that you can hear it. I advise discretion if you consider having little kids listen to this; there are some intense references and a few swear words.