Calling All Liars! Come One and All!

Nationally recognized storyteller, Linda Goodman, will be holding a workshop on January 25th.

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American folklorist Benjamin Botkin said, “In the 1830s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, some of the best and tallest tale-tellers who ever got into print were recruited from the ranks of Southern lawyers, judges, ministers, editors, and sportsmen.” To help keep up this great Southern tradition of yarn spinning, on January 25th at 7:00 pm a Tall Tales Workshop will be held by nationally recognized storyteller, Linda Goodman. The workshop will be used to gauge interest in and develop the skills needed for a more extensive Tall Tales and Liar’s Competition.

Goodman said the workshop is open to “grownups and children who can listen like grownups.” Linda will demonstrate Tall Tale techniques through both live telling and recorded samples. She will also have handouts and printed information available. Storytelling is the only technique allowed, which means tales can’t be woven through poetry or song.

One way that a Tall Tales or Liar’s Competition differs from a regular storytelling event is that the story must contain at least one element that could not possibly be true. The stories are often “things that could seriously happen, but somewhere in there is something that couldn’t possibly have happened, that makes the audience realize that the whole thing is just one big fib,” said Goodman.

The Tall Tales or Liar’s Contest will be contingent on having at least ten people attend the Tall Tales Workshop. Attending the workshop is free and will show support for this type of event.

Goodman believes the contest is a good fit for the city of Waxhaw. “It’s a great community builder. Usually the goal is to get some really good storytellers, but hopefully, some or most of them will be people from the community. People like the police chief, or the plumber, or the mayor. So people are there cheering on people they know,” she said. Goodman also feels that it is a good opportunity for community members to get to know one another better under pleasant circumstances. “There are many of us here in Waxhaw who come from other parts of the country. Storytelling has the power to blend cultures while staying true to its origins. It is hard not to respect someone once you know their story.”

In a Tall Tales and Liar’s Competition there are usually three judges, but the audience also gets a vote. The judges evaluate technical details, such as articulation and story quality, and chooses the first and second place winners. The audience votes for the audience favorite only. Some of the rules include a five-minute minimum and ten-minute maximum time limit. The use of props is discouraged. Other commonly suggested guidelines for judging  include “use of exaggeration, story crafting, presentation, believability, originality, and audience response.”  Professional storyteller Janice Davin will also be brought in to act as MC for the contest and tell a couple of her own stories.

To ensure a family-friendly comedy club atmosphere, the Waxhaw Tall Tales and Liar’s Competition is planned to be held at the WE co-working space behind Sospeso Coffee. The shop will be open so that listeners can enjoy handcrafted, artisan roast coffees during the event. March 24th is the tentative date.

For more information on the contest, or to register for the Tall Tales Workshop on January 25th, call Linda Goodman at 804-687-6341.

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Annie Beth Donahue lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina with her husband Brad, and four children. She is a professional writer for both the web and print, and she can be found at

Annie Beth also has a bachelor's degree in music therapy from Queens University of Charlotte, and has either been working with or parenting children with special needs for the past 18 years. She is a children's book author and the founder and president of Signposts Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves families that have children with chronic health problems or disabilities. In her non-working time, she homeschools and oversees the children's care of their small menagerie made up of chickens, two donkeys, a dog, a cat, and a snake.