BAS Poetry: The Mortified Nation Edition
Imagine finding a high school love letter 20 years after you didn’t have the balls to send it. What would it say? Would you jump back into the same (most likely overly-angsty) emotions or find it funny? Would you be proud of teen you or just plain mortified? For Dave Nedelberg, it was a lot of things. The letter itself was, of course, full of unrequited love. Reading it to friends was both comical and cathartic. He knew there was something worth exploring when friends would cry from laughter as his tiny PG-rated heart would profess his undying love to…who cares really, because that’s not what this is all about. It’s a reflection of you, not the recipient. And there’s something powerful in making that realization. Dave decided to throw a one-night reading in Los Angeles. Just for kicks. The reviews were fucking glowing.
If you haven’t guessed, this journey is what brought us the book Mortified: Real Words Real People Real Pathetic, the documentary Mortified Nation, and the new series The Mortified Guide on Netflix – a now phenomenon of adults sharing their most embarrassing childhood artifacts (journals, letters, poems, lyrics, plays, home movies, art) with others, often telling a deeper story about their lives.
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Dave’s favorite reading? “Honestly, whatever’s most recent,” says Nadelberg. “I’m most excited about the Mortified Podcast [Share the Shame] right now.” With guest stars like NKOTB’s Joey McIntyre (WHAT!) how can you blame him? Stories span elaborate imaginary girlfriends and the roller coaster of emotions that bubble up when you feel like you’re the only living lesbian in all of Long Island.
If this is news to you, get to binging. Better yet, catch the real deal live at The Public Works in San Francisco this coming Thursday, April 19. You won’t be sorry. Seriously though, the New York Times is not wrong when they say, “It will make you blush with secondhand embarrassment.” It will.
Of course, this kind of success does not happen alone. Meet Mortified’s #1 fan, Director & Showrunner, Mike Mayer. Although he “hasn’t read out and never wants to go on stage,” he fell in love with Dave’s show. “It just worked really well because they were very specific stories speaking a universal truth,” says Mike. “It’s cathartic to know you’re not the only one.”
Shooting the guide from the audience’s point of view was genius. You really “feel the energy and excitement. It’s all about the dialog between the performer and audience,” Mayer says.
So what about the performers? Who are they and why would they read their most embarrassing, deepest, darkest secrets to complete strangers? Meet Candice Watson. She reads from her journal in episode five of the series, The Mortified Guide to Pop Culture. Her crush on The Backstreet Boys’ Howie D. and shameless naivety is relatable and charming. Her delivery is perfect. You’re 100% laughing with her and that’s empowering. Once a hormonal tween in Durham, North Carolina dreaming of being a pop star and opening up for The Backstreet Boys, she’s now a recognized presence on the storytelling circuit. Pretty sweet if you ask me.
I leave you with a haiku about Mortified by Candice written at my request (because, you know, poetry rules and stuff).
“Do u like me? Check
Yes or no.” My inquiry
Want more Mortified? If you’re feeling particularly ballsy, apply to participate as a reader at an upcoming event. They also published My Mortified Life: A Guided Journal for the rest of us less ballsy folk. Happy binging, my friends.