I knew there was some subconscious — yet good — reason I never faithfully wrote “Dear Diary…” as a teen. Between the menstrual moments and that first ill-fated May/December crush on a science teacher, some stories are better left off the page. Let’s call it self-preservation of dignity.
Today, though, if I’d preserved those embarrassing events, I’m certain I’d find good company among scores of other Mortified artists.
Nearly 15 years ago, Mortified creator and producer David Nadelberg embarked on a simple mission: “Share the shame.” And he started in his own shoebox, when he discovered a long-forgotten love letter and shared it with friends. Since then, Mortified has evolved into a national comedic performance space for amateurs and professionals alike, spanning multiple platforms of film, stage, television, and the web; there are even a couple of Mortified anthologies in the mix.
What I adore about Mortified is its focus on artifacts to drive a truly powerful story. Love letters like Nadelberg’s or snapshots like those of the Awkward Family Photos series occupy a large chunk of astral space, however the performer’s story might be spare in words but packs a compelling punch. In seeking out new stories and performers for the series, Nadelberg has this part of Mortified down to a science. In an interview with Bookslut he said, “The artifact is always the star of the piece. It should occupy 85% of what is heard on stage or on the page. But 15% of a given Mortified presentation will be the autobiographical context, and that 15% is the most important part. Without it, we become what to me is less captivating, which is just a retro show-and-tell. That’s cute and fun, but that format can become fleeting.” Mortified helps us sift through the shoeboxes of our lives and serves up a lesson in good ‘ol fashioned storytelling. The personal redemption is an added bonus.
If you’re officially interested in being Mortified, you can catch a stage performance next Thursday, June 7 at the 92Y Tribeca Mainstage. Click here for tickets. In the meantime, share a snippet of your own Mortified story in the comments — and we promise: No judgement!