Preview: The Big Easy

Heather Gross, Columbus Alive

For people who want to rev up their public speaking skills, there's Toastmasters. For people who need to share their stories, there's Wild Goose Creative.

"There's people in your lives that are great storytellers, but there's no venue for them other than around your kitchen table or at a bar or at a party," said Ryan Hoke, organizer of Wild Goose's live storytelling series Speak Easy and its new big sibling, The Big Easy. "We decided to give people like that a good venue."

On the first Thursday of each month, anyone can sign up to take the stage at the North Campusarts space to tell a five- to seven-minute true story inspired by the night's theme.

"At the heart of it is this idea that stories really drive us as people," Hoke said, pointing out that storytelling is the basis for most art forms.

Speak Easy began at Wild Goose in early 2010, and it caught on quickly. Now the event is recorded, and the best tales are turned into podcasts for even more people to enjoy.

"I kept waiting and wondering if there was going to be a lull in people wanting to hear stories on stage," he said, "but it just continued every month to have people come out and be interested."

Now he's taking the idea to the next level with a similar but bigger event at A&R Music Bar.

For the inaugural Big Easy, Hoke invited people from around the city "who spend their days holding people's attention" to share stories inspired by the theme "Let me entertain you."

Taking the stage will be Fox 28's Johnny DiLoretto, CD101's Randy Malloy, (614) Magazine's Travis Hoewischer, musician Matt Monta, professional storyteller Lyn Ford, writer Liz Rose-Cohen and professional organizer Sarah Fulmer, as well as Hoke and his co-organizer, Jillian Corron.

Monta, a Speak Easy veteran and member of local bands The Smoking Guns and Righteous Buck and the Skull Scorchers, said that while he hasn't planned out what he's going to talk about yet, he'll likely give the audience a look at the part of being an artist people don't often see: the struggle behind creating the work.

"People go to see shows and say, 'Oh that was great.' They think sometimes it's just magic," Monta said. "It's like, you go to the store and the sandwich was made for you, but you don't see how the meat got put together and cut up. You get this great meal, and I think it's important to see how the meal was cooked."

A&R Music Bar

7 p.m. Saturday, March 10

391 Neil Ave., Arena District