The Moth, the famous non-profit New York City group that’s all about the art of storytelling, runs a weekly podcast many people in the podcast world are familiar with.
The show is effectively a collection of episodes featured in the popular The Moth Radio Hour, but it tends to incorporate other stories from the creators’ archives. Each has a unique and captivating story, or more of them, often narrated live and always based on actual events.
The podcast has been fairly regular over the years, with new episodes coming every week or twice a week. And with over 230 installments, there’s enough of The Moth for every old and new fan. However, in both cases, but especially if you’re new, you want the best, and that’s precisely what we are here for.
I’ve been a fan of the show for a long time, and I’ve listened to most, if not all, of the episodes, so I’ve compiled a list of, in my humble opinion, the best ones. Each is a must-listen, so if you haven’t had the chance to see many of these stories live or catch them on the web at some point, here they are.
Storytelling With Neil Gaiman
You’ll love this episode if you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman. It features a story of his, a more personal one. He speaks about the things he had to do to become a writer, and thanks to his incredible storytelling style, it’s not something you want to miss.
Monkeys, Megachurches, and First Elves
This holiday special features four stories, each one incredibly entertaining. There’s the story about a Jewish girl meeting Santa, Mark Redmond working with a homeless shelter, and a kid getting his exotic pet. However, the best is Simon Doonan’s story about decorating the White House because Michelle Obama called him. You’ll end up on the floor laughing from this one.
PTSD, Lost Art and The Berlin Wall
The episode is a collection of three stories, the main one from Ed Gavagan, likely the most famous story featured on The Moth. He speaks about being almost killed and losing his job and house, all the while trying to deal with PTSD. It’s a distressing story but worth everyone’s time as it shows the power of the human heart and how we can recuperate from almost everything.
All Together Now: Fridays with The Moth — Maurice Ashley
Maurice Ashley’s story is very personal, and it’s about him moving from Jamaica to America as a kid to join his mom and pursue his dreams. However, as life is not a book story and things rarely go according to plan and your desires, things go wrong, and he begins doubting his move. It’s an engaging tale, one whose every minute you’ll cherish.
International Women’s Month: Carol Spencer
Carol Spencer, the first fashion designer of the famous Barbie doll, is the storyteller in this episode. She speaks about her career and how she had to make many sacrifices to succeed. It’s raw and authentic and likely inspiring for many, so it’s worth your time, even if you’ve never been a fan of Barbie.
A Love Note to Salman Rushdie
Right around the time when the world was shocked that the treasure trove of stories, Salmon Rushdie was viciously attacked, The Moth wanted to pay homage to their cherished member. They did that by featuring one of his incredible stories, narrated by Rushdie himself.
The Moth at 25: A Family Legacy
The episode celebrates The Moth’s 25th anniversary and features profound and memorable stories from various guests. It’s perfect if you’re looking to get into The Moth, as it can truly lead you into the world of this famous group. One story is about recognizing Judaism as a Quaker, and the other is a heartwarming tale about a special high school prom night.
Pregnancy, Cigarettes and Desert Islands
This is an older episode, but it’s remarkable as it features Jenifer Hixson’s story about a random meeting between two women who have terrible habits and even worse boyfriends. It also features two additional stories, one about a father haunted by guilt and one about a son and his family moving to a farm.
Me, Myself, and I: Stories of Questioned Identity
Questioning your identity is a challenging thing to deal with, and this collection of stories shows precisely that. Jon Ronson has to battle a bot that’s using his identity, Maureen Freeman wants to loosen up by breaking some rules just for one night, Sitawa Wafula faces health issues that might ruin her career, and Elna Baker shares her problems as a Mormon in New York City. The last story is the longest and the most interesting, but each tale has something inspiring to offer.
Prisons, Princes, and Playgrounds
This episode is filled with compelling stories from various people, but it starts with one of the most unbelievable true tales The Moth has featured throughout the years. Jillian Lauren, an exotic dancer, somehow ends up being a “friend” to one of the wealthiest royals in the world, Jefri Bolkiah, the Prince of Brunei. It’s a fascinating story that she eventually adapted into an autobiographical book.
Live from Dayton
Carpe Diem, it’s the main thing you need to take away from this special live edition of The Moth. It features a few compelling stories, like the tale of a pregnant teenager who needs to find a way to escape her financial problems or Dame Wilburn’s experience with Darth Vader. There’s also a peculiar story of a separated couple deciding to remain living together and Anthony Brinkley’s tale of ending up a victim in a terrible race attack.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what The Moth has to offer. These are some of the most fascinating stories the group has to offer, but there are even more on the official site, especially if you want to dig deeper than the relatively new podcast.
If you want to start with The Moth, these are the episodes to listen to first, so pick one, play it, and sit back and enjoy.