Keillor Wails, Tune Towers, Ames Is True at Moth’s Big Ball

transomgarison keillor 2 Keillor Wails, Tune Towers, Ames Is True at Moths Big BallJudging from the din that filled Capitale’s gorgeous foyer on Tuesday, Nov. 17, everyone at the year’s Moth Ball had a story to tell.

As black-and-white–clad guests talked over one another during a cocktail reception, the Transom asked Jonathan Ames, creator of HBO’s Bored to Death and longtime “Mothman,” to explain what makes a good story. 

“Vulnerability and deeply unexpected events,” said Mr. Ames, who shared hosting duties for the night’s festivities with radio impresario and national treasure Garrison Keillor.

“It can have a happy ending or a sad ending,” he continued. “The fact that the person is up there talking about it makes it a happy ending. Whether or not they have an orgasm remains to be seen.”

Mr. Ames said he couldn’t choose the best storyteller from among the three stars of Bored to Death, Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifinakis and Ted Danson. “Jason is the king of the metaphor,” he said. “Zach is best with the ironic one-liners. And Ted is the best with … being the greatest. He’s just a glowing spirit.” 

The room was full of glowing spirits assembled to raise money for the Moth’s various storytelling initiatives, some hidden behind masks.

Actor and choreographer Tommy Tune, who stood at least a head above the crowd, couldn’t hide and clearly didn’t want to, wearing what looked like an 18th-century military uniform as imagined by Elton John.

“I called to ask what I should wear and they said to wear a tutu. I called back a few hours later and said my tutu was in mothballs,” he said, beaming. “This costume was designed for Dr. Dolittle’s wedding at the finale of the show.”

Later, Mr. Keillor told the crowd a story about a mild stroke he had suffered on Labor Day; the actress Anna Deavere Smith accepted the 2009 Moth Award; and Mr. Ames recalled the time he had to tell George Plimpton he was Jewish.  

All the gifted raconteurs present reminded the Transom that Sarah Palin had started telling her own stories the day before with Oprah, the first stop on what threatens to be a never-ending tour. She’d probably never do The Moth. But who knows?

“We’d die to get Levi Johnston,” said the poet and novelist George Dawes Green. “He’d be fabulous.”