Last June I interviewed Jeff Polish, founder and host of the Monti, on behalf of Triangle Artworks: making arts work in the triangle. The article that follows is part of a series called ” A Conversation With…” which highlights the efforts of our creative community who are thinking big, working hard, and making a difference.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Polish on a warm sunny day in June. The first thing he told me, in response to me asking “How ya’ doing” was that he had just quit his day job as a biology teacher to pursue his dream job of telling stories. His show, the uber successful The Monti, is officially his full time job and he couldn’t be more delighted, prepared and ready to take it on.
I learned about The Monti about a year ago and quickly realized I had to get to a show. I did and now I’m hooked. Being a fan of personal stories myself, the opportunity to share a burger and a few stories with Jeff was one I would not dare miss. We talked, we walked and we stopped for pie. The entire experience was delightful. It was meaty, sweet, fun, thoughtful and left me hungry for more, and that’s exactly why The Monti is so successful. Below is part of our very candid conversation:
Cyn: When you started The Monti in 2008, was it a way to share your personal story?
Jeff: Well, when I started The Monti I felt it was very important to give others a voice and provide a space where interesting people can tell interesting stories. All that was needed is a microphone, a story and an audience to tell it to. Of course there were a few guidelines too; speakers can’t use notes, they have to stick to a time limit and theme, and their stories have to be true. But truth be told, I was looking for a form of myself. Yes, I do like hearing stories, but I needed to be heard. As a child I didn’t feel like I had that and the feeling inside of me was an intense need to be received and loved. The Monti gives me that. In the 3 years I have been doing this, I feel it is less about me now. Although The Monti comes from me, I really feel what I’m doing is more about the show, the storytellers themselves and filling a need in the community.
Cyn: Some people say The Monti is the Jeff Polish show. How do you respond to that?
Jeff: It’s true, I do spend more time on stage now. When I first started The Monti, I would give a very short intro then turn it over to the storytellers. Now I’m on stage for 15 minutes. And it’s not because I’m hogging the microphone. I see my time on stage as a service to my storytellers. I’m warming up the audience and letting the storytellers, who are petrified, know that if you do this, this will happen. I always, always use profanity intentionally in my opening monologue because I want them to know that profanity is ok. I want to be a little blue, a little funny and get some audience action and then turn it over to the storytellers. It takes time. If you were to remove me from The Monti equation it would be a totally different event. And it’s not because I’m the star of the show, it’s because I’m helping to move things for the audience and for the storytellers. Now, I’m just the host. [Read more]
Read the entire article here: A Conversation with …. Jeff Polish from The Monti. « Triangle ArtWorks.
Question: Do you think storytelling is making a come back? Or did it never leave?