Performer’s Spotlight - Michael Cotter
Before the performers of Sucker for Love hit the stage, we decided to sit down with Michael Cotter to talk about his experiences with Story District. Here are quick highlights and great shots from his time on stage:
What’s your favorite part about storytelling?
Getting that first laugh. And with that, being part of that community of storytellers. I love being in the audience but I really like feeling like the tellers are my peers. Telling puts me in that group with them.
Were you scared the first time you got up on stage in front of all of those people?
You know, I’ve got to tell you, for the two hours leading up to telling a story, I’m thinking “why the hell am I doing this?” And then you get up there and get the first laugh and it’s all good. But the answer is a decided yes: every single time my stomach is in knots, I start regretting doing this, but I get up there and I love it.
Does it feel different to have people you know in the audience, as opposed to strangers?
My philosophy of storytelling is that I want it to feel like I’m telling it over a dinner table or a bar table. Knowing that I have my family or my friends gives it a bit of an edge of nervousness. But one of the things that’s so great about storytelling is that 80% of the crowd is there to support their friends. I don’t think there is a more supportive audience than Story District’s. The idea of there ever being a heckler or someone obnoxious in the audience is impossible. The support from the audience is terrific.
What keeps you coming back?
The sense of intimacy, and the high level of quality that Story District has enforced in their tellers. Because they’re so rigorous in screening and coaching and rehearsing the people on stage, the quality is amazing. If you have eight tellers, six will be great, one will be really great, and the other one you’ll think “this person could have used a bit more practice, but they had a good story”. Since it has a sophisticated theater audience, they get challenged to tell good stories. There’s a spiral that causes the quality to get better and better. That and the sense of intimacy and the quality of audience makes you think “this is a great organization” and want to keep coming back.