Wednesday, March 30, 2011
When I was in elementary school I used to write stories with my friends. I can remember one in sixth grade that I wrote with my friend, Andy, that involved us up in front of the class singing the Brady Bunch theme song. I also remember writing one in second grade with my friend, Matt, that was our own version of the Frog and Toad series. It may have been the first prequel, I’m not sure. Then there was the whodunit classic I penned called, “The Case of the Missing Nasal Spray” (See bad sinuses early on).
As I was riding my bike to Venice Beach today I was thinking about stories. Last night I went and saw stand up. Stand up is nice and funny and entertaining, but I think that mostly the audience wants to hear stories. Most all stand ups are sharing their funny perspective on the stories they’re telling. I think that on some level, the audience comes for the stories and stays for the humor. After the stand ups were done a female duo got up and did a sketch where they were pretending they were doing a radio show for moms. It was all right, but I missed the authenticity. I missed joining in their story.
This is not true just in stand up. We go see movies, which are often times repeats of stories we’ve heard before. We read books. We watch TV. We hear sermons. We listen to news ‘stories.’ We need the backstory on athletes and American Idol contestants to know who to cheer for. We even communicate to each other in stories all the time.
We want stories and we want authenticity. If it feels like an actor is acting, we’re no longer in it and we no longer buy the authenticity of the film. If someone is speaking to a group and they drone on about facts and figures, we check out. The moment that same person starts telling a story, however, we’re back in it.
Why are we so drawn to stories?
I don’t know.
But, I know we are addicted and obsessed with them. We want to be in one, we want to be vested in others’ stories, and we want to share ours. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it is the sharing of our lives that we want. We want to know that other characters are going through struggles as well. After all, our favorite stories are the ones we can relate to. Maybe story is THE way we share our lives.
These are just thoughts, no conclusions. I’ve found myself thinking about story more since I’m out here. I’m in the entertainment industry, where everything and everyone is supposed to be fake. But, maybe this is the most real arena of them all. This is where there are thousands of people on laptops, in studios, in makeup rooms, writing, acting, and editing. They’re telling stories.