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Would you share embarrassing childhood writing on stage? ‘Mortified’ creator says it's cathartic

Dave Nadelberg, creator of "Mortified."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Dave Nadelberg, creator of "Mortified."

Would you ever share your embarrassing childhood writing and other artifacts on stage? How about on a podcast listened to by thousands each month? Or on a television show? Or in a book?

For some, it could be considered a worst nightmare. For others, it could be considered catharsis. For “Mortified” creator Dave Nadelberg, it is a little bit of both.

The idea for the multimedia creation came to Nadelberg in his 20s. He grew up in Michigan and found a letter amongst his childhood things to a girl he had a massive crush on. Finding it ridiculous, he decided to share it on stage in front of his friends and invite others to do so as well with their childhood artifacts.

The letter started:

Hello, Leslie. How is your day today? Mine's quite well, I must admit. I do hope that yours is a good one, because what you're about to read may or may not add an extra color to the rainbow at days end.

“It was this flowery, pretentious letter I intended to give to a stranger,” Nadelberg told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

He never actually gave the letter to the girl, but he said finding it again later in life inspired him.

“A powerful thing came of that relationship in that I wrote the letter and eventually shared it, just not with her,” Nadelberg said. “It created this stage show called ‘Mortified,’ which really changed my life, and from that we do stage shows and books and radio specials and podcasts. It really is a strange path I’m on.”

Nadelberg is speaking tonight at the Contemporary Art Museum about some upcoming projects “Mortified” is taking on. There may even be a few dramatic readings of childhood writing from St. Louisans in the audience.

"It isn't just a comedy project, it has a sweet side too," Nadelberg said. "I wish I could say I do Mortified for the money, but I can't: it's art."

Listen as Nadelberg reflects on the power of mortification and what sharing our vulnerabilities can achieve:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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