I’ve enjoyed many Slamtastisque storytelling slams since my friend John David “Hobbes” Hickey started them in 2011.
Hobbes is an award-winning storyteller whose enthusiasm for storytelling is infectious.
His slams challenge people to hone their craft. You have only five minutes to tell a family-friendly story without any notes or props. Five judges from the audience rate the tellers on their performances. Winners compete for a prize at the end of the season.
The tellers are usually a mix of both new and seasoned storytellers and the stories include traditional tales, science fiction stories, spoken word pieces and personal accounts.
Until last month the slams were held at Café Shaika on Sherbrooke St. in NDG. On Wednesday, February 18, Hobbes debuted “Slamtastique 2.0” at the new venue, Café Mariposa on Côte St. Luc Rd.
Café Mariposa is a great fit in so many ways. At Shaika it was often hard to enjoy the stories because other people at the café would be hanging out and chatting or you’d see students and freelancers wearing headphones as they typed away on their laptops, ignoring the tellers. The audience was often spread out around the cafe and it was hard to tell if the owners even supported the slam.
With Mariposa reserved for the slam, only people interested in storytelling fill the small venue. The owners are on board and the artsy, 60s coffeehouse vibe at Café Mariposa suits Slamtastique.
Last month’s slam included a wide mix of stories. Ian Gurudata related how he handled a group of people picking on travellers in a Montreal metro car, Greg Stroll’s spoke about an unusual hide-and-seek experience and Kym Dominique-Ferguson related a traditional tale about Anansi (Anancy), a West African god who often takes the form of a spider, this time faking his death and devouring beans. First-time teller Katharine Childs told a lover story about body image, sexuality and self-love while regular Magali Desjardins Potvin, whose stories are usually science fiction/fantasy tales, provided a first-person “anecdote for the romantically challenged.”
Laurent Castellucci’s well-crafted tale tricked the audience. At first you thought you were hearing a science fiction story but then you wondered was it a dream or a video game?
The evening’s musical guest, Sam Cave hails from Brisbane, Australia and has lived in Montreal for about a year. He’s at ease with a microphone and his soulful songs brightened spirits.
It looked like the event was wrapping up when Hobbes announced a surprise teller had come forward but she didn’t want her story included in the competition. Patricia Flewwelling, the woman who prepared the delicious food served at Mariposa, recounted a story about her army experiences. To keep up with the guys, she downed a soft drink in record time but had quite a time trying to swallow a burp.
If you’re around NDG tonight, do drop by. You’ll have fun. And you have a story to tell, you can sign up on the event’s Facebook page here. Tonight’s theme is Mad as a March Hare but you can tell any kind of story, as long as it’s by heart and five minutes or less.
Where: Café Mariposa, 5434 Côte St. Luc Rd.(near where Terrebonne meets Côte St. Luc Rd and close to Côte St. Luc Rd. & Girouard)
When: from 6:30 p.m. on
Cost: $5 Please do buy something from Mariposa too.