You need stage time to get good at comic storytelling or reading your funny personal essays, but how do you get good stage time?

Since I started producing Un-Cabaret and the spoken word spinoff show Say the Word, many high quality shows have appeared in LA, NY and beyond. Here are a few that are really worth your time if you’re developing your storytelling voice and writing. Each one has it’s own taste, point of view, flavor and aesthetic so you really should take the time to check them out before just barging in and demanding stage time.

Afterbirth features readings of original funny stories about how being a parent changes you forever. They now also have a book published by St. Martin’s Press. There are other shows that feature funny parenting stories, but this one has the highest consistent quality content. Venues vary.

Mortified focuses on people reading their embarassing teenage diaries for comic effect. The show tours and has spawned two books already. So if you’ve got some mortifying material, dust it off. Venues vary.

The Moth features straight storytelling on assigned themes with no notes or written material allowed onstage, a strict time limit, and a jury that declares a winner for the evening. Their booking policy is certainly democratic: arrive early and put your name in the hat. If you get picked you get stage time. Content runs the gamut from funny to dramatic. Shows are monthly, venues vary.

Sit ‘n’ Spin is one of the most prolific venues in LA with two shows every month. It features people reading funny stories at the Comedy Central Stage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. Contact Jaclyn Lafer for booking.

Spark features readings of personal essays in thematic evenings. They are strict about reading your material in advance and actually offer specific notes on your content. They include comedy material but also have a dramatic bent. At the Powerhouse Theater, 3116 2nd Street in Santa Monica.

Online from anywhere, freshyarn is the main spot for ‘publishing’ personal essays on the web.

Also in LA check out:

Lit Up, which features readings on a chosen theme at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, 3646 Coldwater Canyon Ave., Studio City.

I Love a Good Story at the Fanatic Salon, 3815 Sawtelle Blvd. Culver City 90320.

Tongue & Groove mixes up short fiction, personal essays and spoken word. Happens monthly at The Hotel Cafe, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd.

If you know about another great venue that I missed please let me know, but this is certainly a place to start.