Ex Fabula’s first StorySlam of 2015 on January 13th was a great evening to find warmth in the tradition of telling stories. The venue Garfield’s 502, a bar and restaurant, had a packed house that enjoyed many different takes on the theme “Who Knew?” The lovely Dasha Kelly served as the emcee for the night, sharing thoughtful sentiments about the UltraShorts and always-amazing audience stories.

For our first set of stories, we were treated to a round of new storytellers. Francie Szostak shared that mom isn’t always wrong, since pulling off an act of “stranger danger” did indeed save the day. Then, Annalisa Fernandez told how her family throws birthday parties for pet hamster Bob, as a way to find babysitters for the hamster for when the family is on vacation. But what happens when there is no one around to babysit Bob? Next, Alecia Altstaetter shared how angry energy can be effective on things like cars and home appliances.

After an intermission, we heard from new storyteller Jordan Reichardt. She recalled how, when she was a kid, a home intruder led her to discover Santa’s true identify. Next up, Meghan Koven told a story about a first job out of college and an ego-crushing misread of the word “titleist” . Grant Hagen took the mic next to talk of Wisconsin Rapids, family, playing cards and speeding tickets.

For the last segment of the evening, we heard from another new set of storytellers. William Branch told a story about being a camp counselor and working with a kid whose behavior was truly confusing. Jeff Barsoum’s story about dropping out of high school showed that others’ predictions don’t always hold true. Peter May told about his attempts at showing off to women, which proved that making a fool of yourself is sometimes charming.

While votes for the audience favorite were being tallied, we were treated to story from guest storyteller Nicole ‘Niko’ Kennedy, a poet, painter and teacher who has opened for Usher, Donna Brazile & local Jazz bands. Niko shared how after a childhood of choosing to be silent, she found her voice.

After our guest storyteller, we announced the audience favorite, Alecia Altstaetter. Congratulations to Alecia! Thank you to the storytellers & special guest Nicole ‘Niko’ Kennedy for sharing your stories with us! Thank you also to Garfield’s 502 for being such a wonderful host. Thank you to our sponsor Historic King Drive Business Improvement District, who helped inspire our UltraShorts with two story examples from famous Bronzeville resident, Sylvester Sims. And we are grateful to all of our volunteers, members and all of our sponsors for making Ex Fabula happen. And as always, thank you story fans! We’ll see you at the next show for more Ex Fabula stories!