free statistics

Archives Posts

Daro’s Wisdom: Not for the Weak-Minded

September 23rd, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

My grandmother’s real name is Helen, but everyone in my family calls her Daro. It’s one of the first words I ever said, apparently — I just pointed at her and yelled it out and it stuck, simple as that.

Daro is 95 years old. She lied about her age her whole life until she turned 90, and then she started telling EVERYBODY. She’s a relentless self-promoter, a tireless artist, creator, and outsider poet. And man, she’s full of wisdom that she does not mind sharing at all.

Here’s some classic wisdom she shared with me when I visited her over Labor Day weekend:

We were sitting at the dinner table eating a home-cooked meal. Sort of. She proudly announced to me “I never use the oven anymore, Jeffrey. I just do everything up here in the microwave now, and it’s great!” We had some microwaved vegetable soup with a salad of romaine leaves covered with canned pears, and canned peaches. “Try some of the dressing I invented just tonight, Jeffrey,” she told me, all excited. “I came up with it myself. It’s mayonnaise with pineapple juice mixed in!”
Read the rest of this entry »

Archives Posts

“The Moron Years”: a 40 Minute Story Odyssey

August 18th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

It’s been said that you should never meet your heroes — but whoever said it never knew my friend Juliet. Juliet was one of my first friends in the NYC storytelling scene, and she’s an absolute titan: strange, hilarious and heartwarming all at once. She wrote this piece about David Lynch in Philadelphia, but brother, believe you me — this pony can turn a LOT of tricks.

She’s been busting her hump all summer to pull together a 40 minute extravaganza, a colossal odyssey through 5 twisted years that she’ll be performing on Sunday, August 23rd at 6 pm at the Cornelia Street Cafe. I’ve heard snippets of these stories while we were drunk on a friend’s porch, on stage at the Moth and over the phone in the middle of the night while I was having a painkiller-induced nervous breakdown and I’m here to tell you: this is going to be spectacular. Plus my friend Jim, one of the other best storytellers I know directed the thing. So there you have it.

This is not just the friendship talking. I’ve seen her wreck a packed house in New York and drunkenly insult the city of Philadelphia to its collective face. And it’s magnificent.

This is a taste of Sunday’s show, a story she told in Philadelphia last year that is a small part of Sunday’s bigger whole. Check it out for yourselves, and I hope to see you there …

The Moron Years

Archives Posts

Big Black Bird

August 9th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I told this story at my friends Brad and Cyndi’s “Stories at the Creek” a couple weeks ago. It’s a work in progress for me. I’m trying to turn this year’s cancer battles (well documented on this blog) into a story I tell on stage, and this is the first crack.

Like I say in the video, I’m not sure if I’m ready to talk about this or not, but I’m ready to be ready to talk about this, and that’s as good a start as any. I think that telling stories based on our memories helps us get control of them and bend them to our purposes — something I’m really eager to do with this particular experience.

I wouldn’t have told this or posted it if I weren’t ready to see this as material, something to be honed and edited with the help of sharp-eyed, caring friends.

This thing’s a whammy, too — two ten-minute videos about cancer and depression. Not exactly the light and fluffy feel-good romantic comedies I’m known for performing, so brace yourselves. Maybe this is like watching “Requiem for a Dream” (not to flatter myself): good once, but a total fricking BUMMER.

Long story short, I’m used to telling funnier stories with big laugh payoffs, and this sure isn’t one of those.

Archives Posts

Performing at Seth Lind’s Told! Tonight at 7PM

July 19th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I’ll be performing a story at my man Seth Lind’s story show TOLD! tomorrow night at Under Saint Mark’s Theatre. My story’s always a work in progress — it’s about the time I was a kangaroo shooter in the Outback. My close friends are so tired of this one, because even though I had the actual experience back in early 2004, I have only just recently stopped talking about it.

So if you’re new to this blog and you live in New York, come on down. It’s the right price, too: Free dollars and free cents!

Seth runs a pretty interesting show, too. He brings a lot of what he’s learned from his day job at “This American Life” to the experience as well as his training in comic improv, creating a show that’s informal and experimental, a little bit talk show and always really, really interesting to see.

Here’s the description straight from the show’s Facebook page:

Hi. You are cordially invited to the ninth installment of TOLD, the free monthly storytelling show at Under St. Mark’s Theatre.

This month… ‘The Rough Guide’ – riveting stories from out on the road. Our totally sweet performers include:

Actor and Comic Book writer CHRIS KIPINIAK, who will show us that a trip to Egypt can have more in common with the plot of ‘The Hangover’ than you might think. Well, part of the plot of ‘The Hangover.’ Tyson doesn’t sing.

Moth Grandslammer DAISY ROSARIO, tells about a crazy drug trip… not the kind you’re thinking.

Comedian KEVIN ALLISON (The State) with a tale of arriving at a place where I know you’ve been, and deciding to do something I hope you haven’t.

And JEFF SIMMERMON, who just had a story on “This American Life” last week, tells about heading Down Under… to be a hired killer. For real.

Plus, if the tech gods and schedule gods are with us, MELANIE HAMLETT will join us between stories via live video feed, to report in on her current cross-country adventure living in her truck.

Hope to see you there.

TOLD #9: The Rough Guide
Monday July 20th – 7PM
Under St. Mark’s Theatre
94 Saint Mark’s Place
FREE FREE FREE

Hosted by Seth Lind
Produced by Heidi Grumelot
Presented by Horse Trade Theatre Group

Filed under Jeff Simmermon, New York City having Comments Off

Archives Posts

Appearing on ‘This American Life’ This Week Or Maybe Next, It Depends On A Lot of Factors

July 8th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

So, it’s as official as it gets. I just heard from the producers today who confirmed it as a “go,” with the caveat “anything can happen, but we’re looking good.” I’m going to have a story on this week’s episode of “This American Life,” and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

It’s a new version of a story I performed at The Moth’s GrandSlam a few months ago. I pitched it to This American Life with that video, and they brought me into the studio for an interview a few weeks ago.

And here’s the REAL dirt on Ira Glass:
Read the rest of this entry »

Archives Posts

Live Strong, Pink Cockroach

June 8th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

The unstoppable force of nature that is ****** gave me this painting as a get-well gift recently.

She said, roughly, “This is a cockroach with only one testicle — I made it for you because roaches are really tough. They’ve been around forever and they can live through anything, and you’re gonna do the same thing.”

It’s rare for me to be speechless, but I really don’t have words to describe how great I feel every time I look at it …

Live Strong, Pink Cockroach

Archives Posts

Interview with Jeff Simmermon on BillyJoesBoy

April 14th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

My friend Brad Lawrence is a hell of a storyteller and a hell of a guy. I know him from the ever-growing storytelling scene here in New York. When he’s not telling stories or putting on storytelling shows, he’s MCing burlesque shows all over Manhattan.

And when he’s not doing that, he’s writing/editing this cool blog about the NYC storytelling and burlesque scene, interspersed with stories of his own.

He’s been profiling a number of different characters in both worlds over the past couple months … and this week, he’s interviewing and profiling me. I’m flattered all to pieces, to be honest. Check it out if you like …

Filed under Jeff Simmermon, New York City having Comments Off

Archives Posts

Roasting, Shaving, Freaking Out

March 23rd, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon



Luna Moth

Originally uploaded by thahawk

On Saturday night I lovingly sauteed a pile of mushrooms with garlic and half of an onion. Then I chopped up some carrots, rubbed about 5 pounds of beef with sea salt (after browning it in a hot iron skillet) and put the whole thing in the oven to roast.

After that, I made a huge pile of chard — again with garlic and onions — and washed up all the dishes and swept the floor. I took a long shower during which I performed my weekly head-shaving ritual.

Then I yawned and started freaking out for real.Those yawns were the voice of God intoning through my body, using my skeleton like a tuning fork to say “YOU HAVE DICKED AROUND LONG ENOUGH.”

All that cooking and showering and shaving was just the elaborate and stylized Kabuki ritual that I perform whenever I’m supposed to be working on a story. They’re all a big deal for me, but this particular show is a bigger deal than most. I’ve worked for about a year to be in it.

I’m performing in The Moth’s Grand Slam this Wednesday at the Highline Ballroom along with Adam Wade, Peter Aguero, Laura Leu, Cyndi Freeman, Andy Christie, Courtney Fenner, Matt Mercier, Boris Timanovsky and Steve Zimmer. Dan Kennedy, author of the book Rock On will be hosting.

I wrote the story a month ago, tested it out with the BTK band, then let it marinate.

Marinating is important. You’ve got to let the details settle, let the over-explanation filter out. I tested the thing on Jim and (my two close friends and storytelling superheroes) and they helped me sandblast it a little more.

But Saturday was when the real polishing had to happen, and it almost happened too late. Which is the way these things always happen. I can’t do a damn thing unless the deadline is dangling right between my eyes.

So I had a couple belts of Scotch-laced espresso (wakes you up but calms the nerves) and stayed up until 5 AM writing, editing, fretting, obsessing. I copied the whole thing out on a legal pad with a magic marker just to learn it a little better, lips moving like a slow-witted sixth grader just to burn it into the synapses more.

And I’m still worried it’s not enough.

Last time I told a story onstage I forgot the critical part, the two sentences that made the whole thing hang together and make sense. It got some laughs, got a few compliments, but you can tell immediately if something hits or not. If it doesn’t, that walk back to the chair is a fricking DEATH MARCH.

So now I’m antsy. If I can think of something to do to prepare, I have to do it. Immediately.

I jumped out of bed at 3 AM to make some edits that came to me in a dream last night. I’m rubbing my script on the subway with my fingertips. I fingered its yellow pages gently this afternoon while I walked on the stage at the Highline Ballroom this afternoon, just getting the feel for the place. I’m testing the thing out at Stories at the Creek tomorrow night — Tuesday, March 23rd.

If I seem nervous, it’s because I am. I’m tense and a little gassy and I can’t think about anything else.

But my God, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Living at the edge of your own ability, half-sick and terrified because something beautiful’s about to happen … that’s how to do it. Screw all that Buddhist bullshit about eliminating desire. I want to make art and bash myself against the bulb until I’m burning up and then start all over again. Feeling nervous is a sign that I’m on the right track.

Archives Posts

“Foreign Soil”: More Storytelling at The Moth

March 6th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

In 2003, back before online dating was remotely acceptable, I met a woman from Perth, Western Australia over the Internet. As many of you know, I ended up selling all my stuff and flying across the planet to meet her in person. It was pretty much the adventure of a lifetime, and even though parts of it were really hard, I don’t regret a moment of it.

This is me, telling that story recently at The Moth:

If you’re just here from BoingBoing, you can see other stories I’ve done at The Moth here:

Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band: Now the Story is Told on Video
Reverend Al Sharpton Hates Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

I do a lot of talking about The Moth on here, and very little explaining. Here’s how it works.
Read the rest of this entry »

Archives Posts

Performing With the BTK Band at Stonewall Inn on Wednesday March 4th

February 28th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I’ll be telling a story onstage at the legendary Stonewall Inn next Wednesday night, if any of you are so inclined. This is perfect, actually — I have a big show coming up in late March, and this should be a perfect short-term deadline to write the story, test it out, and generally get my shit together.

The show is with Peter Aguero’s BTK band. I know Peter from The Moth and other live story shows in New York — here’s a bit of copy about him and the band:
Read the rest of this entry »

« Previous Entries Next Entries »