Courtesy of The Dairy Arts Center/ Boulder’s Story Slam

Watch the Boulder Story Slam Championships



If you love listening to a good tale, a funny yarn or a spellbinding story, then you won’t want to miss Boulder’s Story Slam Grand Slam Championship on Jan. 29.


If you’ve never been to a story slam before, here’s a quick rundown of how they work. At a typical story slam, members of the audience write their names on a piece of paper, then drop them into a hat. If selected, they get to run up on stage and tell a quick, true five-minute story without notes. Their goal is to make the audience laugh, cry, shiver in fear or experience some other human emotion during the telling. Think of it like open-mic night, but with a bit narrower focus.


Courtesy of The Dairy Arts Center/ Boulder’s Story Slam


The Grand Slam Championship works a little differently, in that the storytellers have already been selected over the last year and a half of slam events. They are: Jean Unger, Zannah Carlton, Drew Davis, Chris McDurmut, Lilly Hansing, Melody Fairchild, Laurel Amsel, Mary Roberts, Tamara Van Horn and Lola Adeyemo. These folks will compete for the ultimate bragging rights: the Grand Slam Title.


The theme for the championship is “twist,” which means participants must tell a true story that’s somehow related to that word. On its Instagram page, Boulder’s Story Slam offered up some thought-starter questions to help get the creative juices flowing: “Did you twist your ankle running from the police? Was there a sudden plot twist you wanted to tell us about? Did your stomach twist at the thought of a looming circumstance? Do the fibers of an old sweater twisted together bring back an old memory?”


Here’s a quick example of a story, told by TJ Sullivan. (And if you want to get into the spirit of things, Boulder’s Story Slam has posted a whole host of stories on its YouTube channel.)



After all of the five-minute stories have been told, the audience gets to decide whose was the best—the audience will vote for the winner. But this isn’t really a competition—it’s intended to be an evening of art, entertainment and community-building.


“The competition happens in good fun,” says Johanna Walker, the founder and host of Boulder’s Story Slam. “There’s a winner, but it’s not about winning. People come to hear a great night of stories. The competition does raise the stakes a bit. We call it the olympiad of storytelling, where people are invited to bring their best selves and their best stories to the stage.”


Courtesy of The Dairy Arts Center/ Boulder’s Story Slam


Walker will co-host the evening along with relationship coach Mazy Matarazzo and singer-songwriter Rachel Taulbee. Other musical guests will also join them on stage.


Tickets are available online now. The event is being held at the Gordon Gamm Theater at the Dairy Arts Center, located at 2590 Walnut St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7.


Other Upcoming Events at The Dairy Arts Center


If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to incorporate more arts and culture into your life, then the Dairy Arts Center can help. In addition to Boulder’s Story Slam Grand Slam Championship on Jan. 29, the Dairy has a jam-packed, fun-filled events calendar that’s brimming with enriching opportunities. Here’s what’s coming up soon.


Boulder Symphony “From the New World” — Jan. 13 & 14


Join the Boulder Symphony for two evenings of incredible music as they present Antonín Dvořák’s “From the New World,” which is widely recognized as the first great “American” symphony of the New World. Boulder Symphony’s principal oboe, Ingrid Anderson, is also performing John Clay Allen’s newly commissioned “Oboe Concerto,” plus the symphony will be playing John William’s “Themes from Jurassic Park” and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Song of Hiawatha.” Learn more and get tickets online.


Colorado Native: A Native American Comedy Showcase — Jan. 14


Joshua Emerson is a Navajo comedian who wants to spread the word that, yes, Native Americans are funny and that humor plays a big role in Indigenous culture. In partnership with Creative Nations, Emerson will host an evening full of some of the funniest Indigenous talent from around the nation. Learn more and get tickets online.


Motus Theater Presents: Dr. King Jr. and the Radical Roots at the Heart of Justice — Jan. 16


Looking for a family-friendly way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Head to the Dairy, where Motus Theater presents an exploration of King’s understanding of poverty and racism through song, hip-hop poetry and smonologues. Learn from nationally acclaimed and regionally-loved singers, The ReMINDers; Dr. Reiland Rabaka, who directs the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for African and African American Studies; and Colette Payne, who directs the Women’s Justice Institute. Learn more and get tickets online.


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