Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Cheap next week: Exorcise your teenage angst

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Many of us don't look too kindly on our teenage years. In fact, given the chance, we might even gladly pay someone to forget our antics. Live stage show "Mortified" let's you do none of that. Instead, it flips the model and asks you exorcise your awkward years by exposing them to the public. A very public reading straight from the pages of your diary to be more specific.

Strangely, or perhaps not so suprisingly, "Mortified" has gotten itself a following. The live show has local chapters in eight US cities and another one in Sweden. I guess misery does love company after all. Or is there something more to it?

I got a chance to ask creator and producer David Nadelberg about his initial inspiration for the show and what keeps drawing people to this strange set-up. Here's what he had to say:

Hi, Dave. So, how did you think to start Mortified?
Mortified began when, as an adult, I found an unsent love letter to a girl I stalked in high school. The letter was desperate and tried way too hard. It made me laugh. And I soon approached other people to collect their childhood writings.

How had Mortified grown or changed over the years?
Today, Mortified has grassroots chapters in 10 cities worldwide and celebrates a range of things we created as kids-- letters, lyrics, journals, home movies, audio cassettes and more.

Contributor Jason Smith shares a race car screenplay he wrote at 15 with the help of The Mortified Community Players (featuring Kevin McDonald, Elijah Wood, Busy Phillips, James Denton, & Curtis Armstrong) at Mortified LA.

What do you think draws people to get up on stage and share their most mortifying entries?
It's cathartic and redeeming in a lot of ways. And of course everyone has a secret curiosity about getting on stage and entertaining a crowd. But I think the biggest lure to performing in Mortified is the sense of community and belonging that comes with it. You feel connected-- to your past self, your present self and to a sea of strangers.

And the audience, why do they come you think?
Pop culture is dominated by things that are entertaining but a bit detached. Mortified is raunchy and funny, but it's also really human. It's a mix of sad, funny, sweet, depressing, strange, and uplifting. I think audiences are thirsty for things that connect on that level.

Can you share some memorable Mortified memories? Who was on stage? What happened?
We love getting to work with performers who have had zero stage experience. That is super fun. It happens more in our chapters outside of LA, but when get to work with teachers and writers and ad execs and turn them into rockstars for a night, that is always rewarding. A few months ago, we had someone on stage who was trembling beforehand and once they got their first laugh, they were safe and it was great watching that transformation.

The other fun kick of our LA show is that we occasionally do plays that people wrote as kids and invite local celebrities to help bring that play to life. To that end, people like Elijah Wood, Danny Pudi, Busy Phillips, Rider Strong, Gillian Jacobs and more have done some hilarious cameos. You can watch the one with Elijah and Busy at

Robelene Novero in San Francisco. Photo by: Ed Pingol.

Could you give us a teaser of this Mortified LA run? Who will be on stage and what will they be sharing?
Our July 20 show (tickets: will be the final Mortified show in LA of the summer. The last chance to get your fix of angst until school season starts up. In honor of that, we're closing the night with one of our favorite tales of "summer love." Plus, we have some fantastic new finds lined up-- diaries, plays, letters and more.

What do you see for the future of Mortified? What's next for Mortified?
We're currently producing a TV series with Sundance channel that is somewhat of a spinoff of Mortified and follows an interview format. Currently titled Shoebox Sessions. Plus we're producing a Mortified concert film spanning some of our favorite Mortified pieces from the past 8 and 1/2 years. Super excited for both.

Wow. A lot happening. Good luck then!

Catch the last Mortified LA show of the summer
At King King
6555 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles
Wed July 20, 8pm
Admission: $15 advance; $20 door


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