Story SlamMN! Interview: Mike Hentges

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May 25, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

Mike Hentges was one of three winners for Word Sprout’s Story Slam in May on the theme “Provoked.” He’s fairly new to the slam scene, and I neglected to ask him for a bio and a photo, but he does have a video on Wordsprout’s YouTube channel – not for this story, but for the one he did for the theme “Thankful.”  Check it out to get a sample of his style, and then read about his winning tale.


For those who were not at StorySlamMN!, please give a quick summary of what your story was about. What connected it to the theme “provoked”?

My story was about a series of events that all took place at a bar in South Korea. A group of foreign exchange students and I went to a foreigner bar and after a few mishaps upon entry such as misinterpreting a pickup line and getting beer poured down my pants, a large man came over and gave us a pitcher of bright green alcohol. After consuming this free alcohol I went over to ask why he gave it to us. I learned that there was a group of US marines at the bar as well and they just sort of decided to buy us a pitcher of soju (the name of the alcohol). It was then that our two groups started to mingle. The differences between our groups led to a drunken rant about how amazing the US military is when compared to the French one. Tensions were now high but a marine and I solved this problem by buying more alcohol. The “provoked” part comes from the beer being poured down my pants and the man feeling like he had to yell at everyone after learning that he was talking to a French person.

How did the idea for your story come to you? Did you create this story specifically for the slam, or did you use a story you have told in another context because it fit the theme?

My story sort of came to me as a joke I could tell about the bar. Upon realizing this I added more and more jokes and events until I had the story that I told specifically for the slam. The events of the story all happened, but not necessarily in the way that I told them.

Is there a particular practice or process you find helpful in shaping your story to fit within the theme and time limitations of a slam?

If I feel that my story is too long I try and look for the things that aren’t necessary or perhaps the parts that aren’t as interesting and cut them out. I never really have the problem of a story being too short. In terms of theme, I find that most of them are pretty loose themes and most stories can be bent to a certain theme, even if it is loosely so.

What do you think is the most difficult thing about telling a story on stage? What is the most rewarding?

I think the most difficult part of telling the story is delivering it in a compelling manner. Often times stories aren’t about what was said but how it was said. An amazing series of events can be boring if not told well just like how a boring series of events becomes interesting if the right words are used. This task becomes more difficult when everyone is staring at you and listening to everything you say and select people in the audience have the task of judging you. The most rewarding part is when people react to my stories. If I tell a joke and then entire room laughs because of it, that’s a pretty good feeling. I want people to like my stories, obviously, and react to it in some way.

Thanks, Mike.

Next week I will post part II of my Liebster award response.

Here’s part one if you need a reminder.  I’ll introduce you to five longtime storytelling bloggers: Karen Chace, Megan Hicks, Priscilla Howe, Laura Packer and Ellouise Schoettler. These storytellers work professionally making their living telling stories; they don’t have “day jobs.” So their reasons for blogging, and their respective audiences, are likely to be different from mine. I am going to let them select from a menu of questions, depending on their interests and their other time commitments, and decide whether they want to pass on their Liebster award by nominating others or be “Honorary Liebsters – No Strings Attached!” – a variant of the award I only recently learned of (in the comments to this post).

In the meantime, I will be preparing for Story SlamMN‘s semifinals on June 3, and for The Moth Grand Slam on June 7.

No pressure there.



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