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Come Closer to the Flame with The Moth at UCLA Live

The Moth never disappoints. Anytime you hear the words “The Moth” you know you’re in for an evening, (or even a car ride) full of thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud, funny, emotional, awe-inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking stories that serve to shine a little light in the darkness that divides us and remind us all we’re less strange and less of strangers than we often think.

By the way, did you know the name of The Moth is derived from an idyllic and personal memory of group’s founder George Dawes Green? He wanted to recreate, in New York, the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, where he and his friends would gather on a friend’s porch to share spellbinding tales. There was a hole in the screen which let in moths that were attracted to the light, and the group started calling themselves The Moths.

Come to that light in Royce Hall March 1 for a special Moth Mainstage that is shaping up to be an evening of hilarity and poignancy around the theme Rush: Stories of Ticking Clocks— featuring tales of chasing the ephemeral, battling the ravages of the endless tick tick or begging the universe for just one more second.

Rudy Rush has signed on to host the show. Rush was the youngest host of the longest-running African-American syndicated show, “Showtime at the Apollo” and has appeared with Dave Chapelle and Martin Lawrence, and on shows such as “Def Comedy Jam,” Jamie Foxx’s “Laff-A-Palooza “and “Premium Blend.” He’s been featured in his own half-hour special on Comedy Central and was the comedic force on the long-running, nationally syndicated radio show, “The Doug Banks Morning Show.”

Joining Rush are a cadre of smart, funny, thought-provoking writers and storytellers including prolific essayist and author Jenny Allen, renowned UCLA hand surgeon Kodi Azari, poker champion Annie Duke, Upright Citizen’s Brigade regular and Emmy-nominated writer for “The Ellen Degeneres Show” Brian Finkelstein, and author, journalist and screenwriter Jerry Stahl.

Jenny Allen is an award-winning essayist, Broadway and New York Theater performer and writer of poignant comedy, often featuring tales from her life as a mom and cancer survivor. She’s been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York, Vogue, Esquire, More, The Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping, and in anthologies including Disquiet, Please!, In the Fullness of Time, and The Fifty Funniest American Writers.

Check out this incredibly witty, slightly explicit (fair warning!) tale from a 2010 Moth event titled Raised Eyebrows: Stories of Shocks, Scandals and Surprises. Allen comically reveals her reaction to an unsettling discovery whilst perusing her teenage daughter’s email account–left accidentally open.

A member of our own UCLA family will hit the stage for this evening of The Moth with internationally renowned plastic surgeon and Kodi Azari, MD and associate professor of orthopedic surgery and plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He was one of the lead surgeons on the first double-hand transplantation, the first arm transplantation performed in the United States, and the first hand transplantation in the Western United States.

And, Azari is no stranger to The Moth setting, having appeared last June at The Moth event Night: Stories of Stars Aligned, which featured esteemed scientists, writers and artists telling on-stage stories about their personal relationship with science.

You may know her from the “World Series of Poker” circuit, Annie Duke joins us to spin yarns related to her career as a professional poker player. Through March 2012, Annie has earned more than $4.2 million in live poker tournaments. At the “World Series of Poker” alone, she has cashed on 39 occasions, made 15 final tables, and won a gold bracelet in 2004. Last year, Annie wrote and read a story “A House Divided” about her upbringing and how it lead her to a career in gambling for the moth iTunes podcast.

Comedian/writer Brian Finkelstein is a regular performer and teacher at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. His last one-person show, “First Day Off in a Long Time,” was selected for the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and chosen “Best in Comedy” by Time Out New York. The show was later developed as a sitcom for FOX. Brian has appeared in a variety of independent films, NPR, NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” TBS’s “Cut to the Chase,” and Comedy Central’s “Upright Citizens Brigade.” Most recently he was an Emmy-nominated writer for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Check out Brian at a previous Moth Mainstage, performing under the theme Love Hurts: Stories about Heartbreak. He self-deprecatingly talks about the bitterness left in the wake of an unrequited romance.

An author, journalist and screenwriter, Jerry Stahl is a unique player for this performance. His raw memoir of working in porn, television and film and chronicle of drug abuse and addiction recovery, Permanent Midnight, was made into a 1999 movie starring Ben Stiller. He’s also the author of novels Perv, I, Fatty (optioned by Johnny Depp) and Pain Killers and wrote the HBO movie, “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, which premieres in May.

Tickets are still available, starting at $20.

So please, come closer to the flame.