My Thank You

My Thank You

I had always wanted to see Auckland get a regular storytelling event so that I could go to it. That was it really, my selfish want of a type of entertainment that I could hear others were getting when I listened to their podcasts. So I emailed The Moth, one of my favourite storytelling podcasts, and asked if they planned on coming over any time soon. They politely replied that they hadn’t finished spreading their wings over America yet and so a trip to New Zealand wasn’t on the cards just yet, but why don’t I start one of my own? I had never thought that it could be me that started one of these, but the people at The Moth thought I could so I listened to them. I got hold of Elise at The Basement and asked if she would give me a venue, 'cause at least then I had a starting point, and in classic Elise fashion she said “hell yeah”. I asked my good friend Oliver to host, and he too jumped at the opportunity, then asked Zoe for some kind of branding (she nailed it with a brief about as basic as that) and then just asked 6 of friends to tell a story each. And hey presto I had organised something.

60 odd stories later and I have managed to keep it going. However, it is the collection of people hanging out around the watercooler talking things over with me, and making sense of things that I wasn’t aware of, are the people I couldn’t have done it without.

With that I want to thank a list of people for giving me their time, constructive criticism, energy and high fives.

Oliver, boy oh boy your enthusiasm is the best, thanks for calling me up after our first show and saying “yip, there’s something here let’s keep going”. Thank you Elise, Sam and the others at The Basement for being so open and welcoming to the idea. Thank you to the Candlelit kids for your round-table of ideas that planted a lot of seeds in my mind. Thank you Gather and Hunt for letting us talk about ourselves a lot on your website. Thank you Sam Mence for turning up one night and noticing how lost we were and sticking around to help and sticking around ever since. Thank you Zoe for giving my little idea an identity, and such a beautiful one at that. Thank you Finnius for your support and enthusiasm from the beginning. Thank you Claire, Julia and Hamish for letting me vent and contemplate with you one hung-over morning. Thank You Ju, for coming on board and helping us out. Thank you Jono for making me feel like what I was doing had worth. Thank you Dad for letting me take up precious studio time at your work to edit our initial podcasts (and not making it awkward when you heard Oliver’s fantasy-porn story). Thank you, mum for always being good in a crisis and being my constant support. Thank you Hannah for being. Thank you to all the people that keep coming along and watching and listening to the stories month in and month out. Thank you to The Wireless for seeing the merit in what we were doing and partnering up with us to give these stories a wider audience. Thank you Joseph for coming on board and being such a delight to work with.

Lastly, thank you to anyone who ever told me their story; I am constantly humbled and honoured to hear these stories and to be trusted with them in a way that I never thought I would be. There are so many amazing, heartbreaking and hilarious stories to be told in New Zealand and every single one that was shared with me will stay with me for a very long time.

I’m heading off now to see what my story is and I leave the local running of The Watercooler in the capable hands of Romain Mereau. Now that I have a right-hand man, I hope to bring more to The Watercooler than I could before and I hope that everyone keeps telling their stories, whether or not it’s on our stage.

Thank you,



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Johanna Macdonald by Drus Dryden

Drus reenacted this video in analogue form on The Watercooler stage in his 'Kindness of Strangers' story. Drus made this video to combine his new found admiration for Jo and to try learn some new skills as a video maker. Enjoy. 

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Happy New Year and Happy New Announcement!

Who is our new host you ask...well I will tell you. Come February your new Watercooler host is .... Joseph Harper.

Joseph is a Cantabrian residing in Auckland. He currently works as a freelance writer, is the in house creative at 95bFM and runs a fortnightly alternative comedy showcase called 'Not Funny'.

In 2010 he graduated from the Unitec school of Performing and Screen Arts, and worked as a teacher aide for children with physical and intellectual disabilities while creating and performing work primarily concerned with autobiography, abstraction, and naive humanist ideals. Said drivel saw him nominated for the Billy T and Chapman Tripp awards as well as various salutations from Fringe Festivals and playwrighting organisations.

His interests include, cycling, basketball, amateur astronomy, his own ever-improving oral hygiene, and is batting a paltry 0.696 in a mildly competitive slow-pitch softball league.

We are so excited to have Joseph on board and think you are all going to love what he brings to The Watercooler stage in 2015.

Welcome to The Watercooler Joseph.



One year on

An excerpt from the Basement Theatre website about our upcoming issue and why it's so special to us...


After 12 months on The Basement stage and with over 50 storytellers sharing their anecdotes of heartache, triumph, misadventure and everything in between, The Watercooler is ready to cut the cake on their first birthday celebration.

With a special anniversary episode lined up for December, the creators behind this monthly live-podcasted event have planned a reunion episode featuring four of the most-loved speakers throughout the year. Three of these were selected via social media in a People’s Choice-esque style, while the fourth was selected by New York-based comedian and writer Elna Baker.

Elna’s work has been featured on This American Life, BBC Radio 4, and her book The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, delves into her experience as a young single Mormon living in New York. She first came to the attention of The Watercooler producer, Sarah Finnigan-Walsh, when she told her story To Russia With Love on The Moth stage in 2012.

After listening to a shortlist of eight stories from various TW episodes in the past year, Elna selected Chris Parker for his original voice and storytelling flair. She said she had found it very hard to choose from the high calibre of tales on offer. Chris will be joined by Dawn Glover, Richard Bol and Fergus Burnett, all of whom will have new stories to tell on the night.

Check out Elna’s story from The Moth stage of 2014 Yes Means Yes, and come along to The Watercooler Reunion show at 8pm on Sunday December 14th in the main theatre at The Basement.