2012 Moth Ball Interviews: Celebrity Guests on Storytelling and Scorsese

Since George Dawes Green started The Moth in his living room 15 years ago, the organization has had one clear mantra: great storytelling. So it’s no surprise that the honoree of their annual ball, held Tuesday night at Capitale in New York City, was one Martin Scorsese. It’s a difficult task to sum up the essence of his ever-evolving oeuvre, but perhaps award-presenter Adam Gopnik did it best when he discerned that at the heart of every Scorsese film is “an act of verbal aggression.” In a broader sense, this pronouncement encapsulated the theme of the night: a Moth story is like Scorsese — you can peel back the layers and get even more (which is why, if you’re looking for a challenge, we recommend listening to their podcast on an erratic, crowded subway train, where hitting an iPhone’s microscopic rewind button while standing is perilous).

For exclusive interviews from the evening, click through our celebrity slideshow featuring: Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, the stars of White Collar (Tiffani Thiessen-Smith, Matt Bomer, and Tim Dekay), comedian Mike Birbiglia and Jen Stein, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio, Joan Firestone (Executive Director of The Moth), and Royal Pains stars Reshma Shetty and Paulo Costanzo.

Photo credit: Robin Damore

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, three-time Moth contributor 

Flavorwire: What is the key to telling a really great story?

DMC: Be honest and truthful. Even if you’re making up a story — tell it honestly.

FW: Do you consider yourself a storyteller?

DMC: No, I don’t.

FW: Wait, you don’t?

DMC: Well now I do. I found out that I was adopted at age 35, and I didn’t know my whole life. And so The Moth heard about it, and at first I wasn’t even going to put that on records, and then they said, “Get up there and just tell your story.” And I was like, “There’s no script?” And I did three of them and it brought me healing — which is so crazy.

FW: Do you have a favorite Scorsese film?

DMC: Raging Bull, with Robert De Niro playing Jake LaMotta. The stuff that he did outside of the ring, was so, you know, heartbreaking, inspiring. Because most of the time you see people, celebrities — the truth is they’re just no different from anybody else. That’s what a good story will let you know.