The Life Unwired with Ben Combee (unwiredben) wrote,
The Life Unwired with Ben Combee

Tonight at the Frey Cafe

Earlier on LJ, I mentioned the storytelling event called Frey Cafe that has taken place at the last few SXSWs, and pointed you to Frey Cafe #5, which happened earlier tonight. I met up with lizardprincess at the Convention Center about 6:10, and we walked over to P.F. Chang's where we had a delicious meal of veggie lettuce wraps and Ma Po tofu. We kept cracking up about our waitress who kept adjusting things at our table, including pointlessly replacing the napkins under our drinks and stealing an appetizer plate while it was in use.

We get over to the Red Eyed Fly about 7:30, and no one is there, but things got started around 8:15, delayed a little because of the Webbie Awards ceremony. Now, we'd never been in the back room of this place before, so we didn't know that it was open to the outdoors and susceptible to a strong breeze. This resulted in lizardprincess borrowing my jacket to keep herself warm and some significant use of her as a huddle heater, not that I minded :)

A total of about 20 storytellers made their way on the stage over the next three and a half hours, and most of the stories were well worth hearing. I really liked the story of how Cinnamon got her name from her parents; how a guy witnessed a car crash and tried to help the drunk driver; how a skateboarder got to be an extra in the film "Gleaming the Cube", taking the role from a young Spike Jonez; and how playing a little Mexican boy who missed the pinata got a guy excused from going to church as a kid.

Inspired by the first couple of stories, I put my name on the open mike list, becoming Frey Cafe speaker #14 for the evening. This was my first public performance in a non-professional role since I did open-mike poetry at Flipnotics back in 1995, but I handled myself well. I wish I'd made more eye contact with the audience and went for a few more laughs, but it was pretty well received. Some of the other speakers had taken phonecam pictures of the audience from on stage, so I decided to top them by having lizardprincess capture my performance using my Treo 650.

Ben at Frey Cafe 5 (4MB, 5:39): This cuts off the first minute where I introduce myself, I talk a little about my hometown of Dalton, Georgia, and I talk about how I would go to both Catholic mass and Southern Baptist services when I was growing up until my parents both converted to Methodism as a compromise. Then I talk abut Governor's Honors, Valdosta, Core Wars, Georgia Tech, Tower Dorm, the Bareass 500, Hanson Dorm, my Campus Crusade for Christ roommate, the Wesley Foundation, Dr. Bill Landiss, getting a room at the WF, inviting friends over for RPGs, and getting reprimanded because someone left a beer bottle under one of the couches in the sanctuary.

It was a good effort, but I think it needs a lot of polish before I do it again. Trim some stuff, punch up some details, and a better flow. Still, I didn't have any problems addressing the crowd and I made them laugh a few times. I'm definitely going to be back next year; the storytelling bug has bitten me hard.
Tags: austin, family, personal history, sxsw 2005, theater
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