If you attend First Person Arts storyslams regularly, you’ve probably spotted storyteller Andrew Panebianco. And not just telling stories for FPA, but on their actual ads.
That handsome mug on those animated gifs? Totally Andrew.
A former English teacher turned advertising copywriter at The Brownstein Group, Andrew enjoys inventing words (more on that later), writing non-fiction, and of course, storyslamming.
Read on to learn more about Andrew, and discover what “ambleguity” means.
So you tell a lot of stories with First Person Arts. How’d that start?
I went to my first Story Slam a little over a year ago with a friend. I’d never even heard of them before – I always associated slams with dancing or spoken word poetry, neither of which I’m particularly fond of. But when I got there it was really lighthearted and funny.
Everyone was warm and self-deprecating and drunk… it was like narrative karaoke. So I got up and told a story and did kinda okay. Then I went back another night and won. And then I went to the finals. And now I’m a quasi-regular. Kinda weird.
What sort of stories do you like to tell? Why?
I tend to tell stories about the times when I’ve failed or totally humiliated myself. This is in part due to my never having done anything particularly uplifting or noble… but in a larger sense, I think it makes up my whole storytelling philosophy: nothing’s more boring than someone else’s good news. Stories about when we’re ugly or dumb or embarrassing are stories about when we’re the most honest. And I like those.
Friends of yours are rather fond of your made up definitions. So much, that you’ve gone ahead and started a blog. Tell us about this project. How’d it come to be? Why make up words?
I started doing it a few years ago, but not with anything special in mind. I just like describing things, and am really really nerdy about words (I own so many dictionaries and thesauruses). I’ll be wandering through my day, and something will happen and I’ll want to describe it to myself… so I’ll just invent a word for it. Like, the other day I was stuck walking behind this really pokey old lady who, oblivious to my trying to get around her, kept shuffling about in random directions. I thought about it for a minute and boom:
Ambleguity: (n.) A bumbling, directionless gait.
I’ve got a little over 100 of them now, and everyone seems to like them… so I started a website – neologasming.com. It’s just getting off the ground and I’m notoriously awful at the internet… but I’m hoping to have words and sample sentences, illustrations, links about words and language.
The nerdiest blog ever, basically.
What other geeky projects do you have in the works?
Other than my own dictionary? I’m working on an essay about a tiny town in Pennsylvania, I’ve got a bunch of research for a book I want to write about burial and mourning, and I’ve been harboring a ten-year urge to write a musical version of Dante’s Inferno, where the main character wakes up in the underworld only to discover that it’s an endless musical. I’m hoping to finish one of them before I start going grey.
Any recent favorite reads? Movies? Share some of your guilty geek pleasures with us. Don’t be embarrassed. We won’t judge.
I’ve recently started devouring “Another Insane Devotion” by Peter Trachtenberg which is a plaintive analysis of love and relationships masquerading as a cat memoir. I’ve also been reading “An Exaltation of Larks” which is a book about collective nouns.
I haven’t geeked out over movies in a while… but that’s probably due to my having been completely engulfed by Dr. Who. Oh my god, do I love that show.
Where can our readers find you online?
Well, my dictionary can be found at neologasming.com.