The Moth GrandSLAM at Echoplex

Check out The Moth GrandSLAM on Tuesday, March 2, at the Echoplex in Echo Park.

The Moth is basically an unscripted story telling hour – just the speaker telling a short story without notes about certain experiences (storytellers are provided with a theme). I have personally thoroughly enjoyed listening to some of the stories – often hilarious and heartwarming.

The event is described as follows:

The Moth presents the GrandSLAM, a battle of wits and words – fierce, hilarious, heartbreaking and all points between. Listen as ten StorySLAM champs tell tales of uncharted territory. Stories of new places on the map or in the mind.

The Moth is dedicated to finding intriguing people to tell inspired stories.  At The Moth StorySLAM, those people find us. On this night, using words as weapons, they word- it-out to determine The Moth’s LA GrandSLAM Story Champion.

Hosted by
Brian Finkelstein

Stories by
David Baer
Anne Flanagan
John Grady
Stephen C. James
Carlos Kotkin
Jamie Leake
Matteson Perry
Riley Ray Robbins
Mariana Williams
Alan Zarembo

Music by
Eban Schletter on Theremin

As a special treat to you, I would like to share with you one of my favorite The Moth stories from the Mainstage – Malcolm Gladwell’s story titled “Perverse and Often Baffling”. Click here to listen to this fabulous story on the This American Life episode (it’s the last act in the episode). Trust me it’s worth it!

The Echoplex
1154 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Valet and street parking available.

7:00pm Doors Open
8:00pm Stories Start on Stage

$17 tickets available at

Here are the bios of all those participating:

Brian Finkelstein (host) is a comedic writer / performer. He’s a regular performer / teacher at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles.  His last one-person show, First Day Off In A Long Time, was selected for the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and chosen “Best In Comedy” by Time Out New York. The show was later developed as a sitcom for FOX. Brian has appeared in a variety of independent films, NPR, NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, TBS’s Cut To The Chase, and Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade. Most recently he was an Emmy nominated writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

David Baer has been an actor, writer and a filmmaker for more then twenty years. He grew up in La-La Land for most of his life, but has decided that after participating in this GrandSLAM, he’s going to move to a new location where every-other-person he runs into is NOT in the film business.  Basically, he wants to move to a place where he can get away from people like himself. Austin, Texas is his top choice, but he’s open to living in another city if anyone has a better idea.  (“Baer” is not his real last name, “Schemerhorn” is, but it’s too long and hard for most people to spell.)

Anne Flanagan is a writer, actor, and elementary school teacher.  She has won several playwriting awards including the McLaren Memorial, the Mountain Playhouse Comedy Contest, and the Julie Harris Playwright’s Award. Anne also works as a private investigator.  Although she doesn’t carry a gun, she does wear a fedora. Find her online at:

John Grady was born and raised in Northern California, stole away to Canada and learned to fly fish, how to train dogs and to perfect his double tour en l’air.  Then he moved to NYC to write about it all, and put it up on stage and on film.  Despite getting an ‘F’ in computer science class at university, he has become the ‘go-to guy’ for all your Mac questions.  John is a Moth regular, and starred off Broadway in Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell.  Cereal rules his life.

Stephen C. James fled Texas in 1999 and moved to LA to pursue a career in free verse poetry, as he misunderstood which “industry” people were referencing.   Since 2003 he has run the drama program at an area middle school directing over a dozen plays featuring awesomely awkward and awkwardly awesome teens.  While currently unsure if this story will be better than the last movie you saw, he promises it’ll be shorter.

Carlos Kotkin’s father, from Southern California, met Carlos Kotkin’s mother, from Mexico City, while vacationing in La Cuidad de Mexico. They got engaged after a few days and moved into an apartment in San Diego. Carlos is the only known documented case of a woman traveling from the United States to Mexico to have her baby. Carlos returned to California a few months after he was born (with the help of his parents). Numerous events took place in the ensuing years, including Carlos having the pleasure of telling stories at The Moth.

Jamie Leake hails from either Texas or upstate New York, depending on how proud he is of Texas at any given moment in time. He writes, designs and illustrates, but also gets giddy about chalk murals, travel, blues dancing and yard sales. His obsession with frogs is segueing into a fascination with snails and a wariness of squirrels. As far as he knows, the only bone he has ever broken is his skull.

Born and raised in Colorado, Matteson Perry spent his childhood following the state edicts of skiing as often as possible and worshiping John Elway.  After stints in Boston, Alaska, and New York City, Matteson recently moved to LA to be a screenwriter.  He’s also a stand up comic and a former New York GrandSLAM winner.

Riley Ray Robbins was raised on New York’s Lower East Side by two well meaning drug dealers and attended the famed Stuyvesant High School for Math and Science from which he did not graduate. He was however accepted to a prominent Midwestern liberal arts school where he received financial aid for several ethnic groups to which he did not belong. His notable accomplishments include losing on five separate cable game-shows, nearly sleeping with Ione Skye’s cousin and getting within four ounces of finishing the 72 ounce steak at the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas. Today he no longer lies about his age on Facebook, refuses to date women who own cats and develops reality TV programs for a living.

Mariana Williams (formerly, Mariana Tilton) has played piano and sung in hotels and clubs in the L.A. area as well as Casablanca and Japan. She turned her second hobby (boisterously laughing) into a career when she founded West Coast Comedy Contact, an agency that booked comics one-nighters in L.A.  These days she spends her time groveling before anonymous literary agents, seeking representation for her three Veronica Bennett novels. You guessed it, based on a quirky lounge singer who falls into accidental crime.  She loves all things Moth and spreads the word like a zealot.

Alan Zarembo is an investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times and supplements his income racing bicycles (last year’s winnings: $70). He has lived in Boston; Reading, PA; Covington, KY; Pittsburgh, PA; Hanover, NH; Longview, WA.; Kampala, Uganda; Kigali, Rwanda; New York City; Mexico City; and Palo Alto, CA — in that order. He now resides in Echo Park with his wife, Meghan Daum, and their sheepdog, Rex. He has 208 friends on Facebook but is planning on making some cuts.

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