When you're telling the interesting or important events in a story, you use the simple past tense:
He said something to me.
They fell down the stairs.
We laughed so hard we couldn't stand up any more.
This is different from when you're explaining the background at the beginning of a story. When you're doing that, you use "was ___" or "were ___":
He was saying something to me.
We were laughing really hard.
Notice that you can't say "They were falling down the stairs" because falling is too short and too interesting to just be the background situation of a story.