Muni Diaries has been throwing rollicking stories under the bus since 2008, and commemorates their tales of many transfers with the Muni Diaries Live 10th Anniversary Show this Saturday, April 21, at the Elbo Room. In advance of their anniversary show, we spoke with the spoken-word show’s founders about how this institution took a fast pass to ten years of hilarious storytelling.
“We think of Muni as the collective living room of San Francisco, where everyone gets (oddly) comfortable, and you never know who you will meet and what will happen,” co-founders Eugenia Chien and Tara Ramroop tell SF Weekly via email. “Muni Diaries was born online in 2008 as a collective journal to talk about this quirky part of city life. All of our stories are contributed by everyday bus riders, most of whom we have never met.”
Advance tickets for Saturday’s show are sold out, but there will be some available at the door. “We’ve been selling out nearly every show for nine years, but this is the earliest we’ve sold out,” they say. “We will have a handful of tickets available at the door at the Elbo Room, which opens at 5 p.m.”
“For our 10th anniversary show, we have SF Chronicle reporters Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight, who are plotting to ride every single Muni line in one day,” they tell us. “You’ll also hear J. W. Friedman, who wrote the theme songs to the Muni Diaries podcast and has produced an entire hip-hop album all about Muni.”
“We’re bringing back our Muni Haiku battle with our reigning champion Alexandria Love (who is also the champion of the Dirty Haiku Battle at Oakland’s Tourettes Without Regrets), and she’ll be bringing her best 5-7-5 odes to the love-and-hate relationship with Muni,” they add.
“Even though we’ve been collecting people’s stories for ten years, every time you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t,” the founders say. The storytelling collective has made its mark not just on San Francisco, but on Muni itself.
“A reader tipped us off to someone who was humping the shoulders of unsuspecting female riders on Muni; and the next thing we knew, the SFPD got in touch and our readers helped catch the ‘Muni Humper’,” they recall. “Another reader sent in photos of Tammy, a bus driver who threw surprise parties on her bus just because it was her last day on that line. Years later, another rider was on Tammy’s bus and found her on Muni Diaries to thank her! Some of our favorite moments come from our live shows, like this show when writer Derek Powazek told a story about how a group of riders actually lifted a car off the tracks so the N-Judah could pass.”
Muni Diaries has spawned into a larger project called San Francisco Diaries. “San Francisco Diaries is a new project that we are adding to the Muni Diaries family,” Chien and Ramroop explain. “Muni Diaries will keep going as it has always been. You’ll find San Francisco Diaries stories on its new Facebook page and as a new podcast segment.”
“Muni Diaries is only possible because more than 4,000 people – otherwise total strangers – have told us a story about their lives while getting from point A to point B,” they say. “We’ve recently added a podcast to capture it all. You can find it by searching for Muni Diaries on iTunes or any podcasting app, or go to munidiaries.com/podcast. We’re looking for new storytellers for our podcast studio as well.”