Master Storyteller: Spalding Gray

December 14, 2010

I know I’ve written on this blog about my interest in and admiration for great storytelling. Truth be told, I’m not sure if my interest in the fine art of storytelling would be possible had I not seen Spalding Gray perform two of his monologues at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre several years ago. One word can best describe these performances: masterful.

The performances consisted of Spalding Gray sitting at a small wooden table with a glass of water and a notebook. His stories were about simple things like fatherhood, marriage and his family ski trips. While it may seem odd to go to the theater to listen to a man sit behind a table and tell stories, I assure you Spalding Gray was at the top of his game. Much like Itzhak Perlman performing Paganini on violin, the Bolshoi Ballet performing Swan Lake or Michael Jordan competing in the slam dunk competition, Spalding Gray had the power to mesmerize his audience…through words.

So it was tragic to learn about Spalding Gray’s death in 2004 from an apparent suicide.

Finally a documentary of his life has been made, And Everything is Going Fine, and is now playing in New York City (and hopefully your town soon). I hope to write more about Spalding Gray in future posts, but I wanted to invite everyone reading this to watch this movie or check out Swimming to Cambodia (directed by Jonathan Demme) or Gray’s Anatomy which are both on DVD. Check out the Spalding Gray website and the trailer for the documentary…

1 John Boland December 14, 2010 at 7:49 am

Thank you for the link to the official website for Spalding. I may have linked your blog before under Fan Writings – however, I do so many, I can’t recall. I will be linking this one as your praise is exceptional. I’m not sure when I will have the chance to add your link.
Please note that IFC has confirmed that And Everything is Going Fine will open in Chicago (I assume that is where you still are) on
1/18/2011 (opens) – Goodman Theater, Chicago, IL.
One can always check for the latest showings at
Also IFC On Demand is Dec. 22nd.
Note that it is difficult to obtain all showings/all cities so I encourage people to check their local listings and do exactly what you are doing – get the news out there.
Thank you again
webmanager for the Estate of Spalding Gray

2 Lori December 14, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Hi Tim,

I have been a huge fan of Spalding Gray ever since a really good friend of mind told me about him. 😉

Thanks so much for paying this lovely tribute to him here and for linking the video, too. I will be sure to see “And Everything is Going Fine” as soon as I have access to it.

Mr. Gray so well demonstrates much of what I believe to be the essence of living, sharing our stories. I can not think of anything more noble or beautiful in one’s lifetime.
Thanks again!

3 Tim December 15, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Hi John: Thank you for stopping by and commenting– it’s an honor to receive your comment. Thanks also for the links and the information about And Everything is Going Fine playing in Chicago. It’s something I’ve been waiting for. Truth be told, I think Spalding’s performances planted the seeds for me to join Toastmasters because I came to the realization of how much I admire great storytellers and in some small way wanted to become a little like him. Thanks again!

Hi Lori: It’s good to know you’ve been a fan of Spalding’s, too. The last sentence in your comment really summed everything up- in a very poetic way – about the sharing of our stories. Like you, I really believe in the power of a good story and Spalding is a great place to start. Thanks for stopping by and sharing some thoughts about Spalding and storytelling!

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