By PALOMA MELLO
Molly McCloy, a nonfiction storyteller who teaches writing at Northwest Campus, started spinning tales as a college student.
She was studying for a master of fine arts at the New School in New York City when a teacher told her about The Moth.
“It was a storytelling slam, like a competition,” she said. “You put your name in a hat and they draw 10 names out. You have to tell a five-minute story from memory, no notes, and you get scored on it.”
It didn’t go well the first time McCloy tried, but she persevered and now maintains a busy storytelling schedule.
During an April performance with Odyssey Storytelling at Fluxx Studio, tales about her family kept the audience laughing.
“All of my stories are true. It might be a little exaggerated, but everything is true,” she said. “They came from personal experiences.”
Her sense of humor often amazes people who thought she was reserved and quiet.
“People get surprised when they see me on stage,” McCloy said. “Most of the time I don’t bother to make people laugh until I know them.”
She limits her humor to storytelling, and has never tried standup comedy.
“I think that in standup the expectation is higher,” she said. “It is like, you better be funny.”
McCloy grew up in Phoenix. She graduated from Evergreen State College in Washington and earned a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University before moving to New York for five years.
She came to Tucson in 2010 when PCC offered her a job as a writing instructor. Her girlfriend, a Tucson native, was ready to leave New York and return home.
“We were tired of the big city,” she said. “I was worried Tucson would be too much like Phoenix, but I actually like it a lot.”
In Tucson, McCloy missed the Moth competitions, and thought about starting her own group. When she learned about Odyssey Storytelling, she signed up there instead.
“The Odyssey is a whole different thing, it’s not competitive as the Moth,” McCloy said. “It’s more like a community.”
Roscoe Mutz, an Odyssey producer and host, said the non-profit group uses volunteers to bring stories and entertainment to Tucson residents.
“We truly believe that storytelling is an art to connect to the community and meet people,” he said.
Anyone interested in telling stories at Odyssey can contact the group to arrange an audition, Mutz said.
Oyssey performs the first Thursday of each month at Fluxx Studio, 416 E. Ninth St. Admission costs $7.
Since McCloy joined Odyssey, she has met lots of people and even recruited new students to her PCC classes.
“I told people at Odyssey about my class and now I have four Odyssey people, which is amazing,” she said. “They are all pretty serious about it.”
One of those students, Penelope Starr, started the Odyssey Storytelling group about nine years ago.
“Molly is great,” Starr said. “She always has interesting stories to tell.”
McCloy tries to help her students learn independently by spending time writing and researching during class.
“I like teaching at Pima,” she said. “I have good quality and motivated students.”
For a schedule of McCloy’s upcoming shows, visit here.
For more information about Odyssey Storytelling, visit here.