The Denver Moth GrandSLAM - Tipping Point

November 17th, 2018 At DU Newman Center for the Performing Arts

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 The Story Project on the 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 Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, Hosted by Patrick McConnell, recorded at the SunWater Spa.

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 you can see 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.



RISK! Live in Denver

October 4, 2018 at the Bluebird Theater

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!


With the encouragement of the 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 the Moth.

At the beginning you hear someone yell, “Mr. McNeil!” After the show he came down to say high. 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! But 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!



September 4, 2017 at Invisible City

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.



August 11, 2018 At the Oriental Theater

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 get up, get ready, and still 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

March 2018 At Swallow Hill Music

My third Moth Slam. It was time to share on 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 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 Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, Hosted by patrick McConnell, recorded at SunWater Spa.

Thanks to sharon for giving me a chance to share another story I share with 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 DU Newman Center for the Performing Arts

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 speak. 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 Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, hosted by Patrick McConnell, recorded at SunWater Spa

It was a stormy night. The room opens onto a patio with big retractable walls. 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

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 time to share for Father’s Day

The Denver Moth StorySlam - Wonders

March, 2017 at Swallow Hill Music

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. And when I froze, it was like my head was going to explode trying to remember what I wanted to say. It was horrible. But then when I make the joke, I hear the audience laugh, and it all 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 Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, recorded at SunWater Spa

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.