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Some Of My Best Friends Are Liars

March 27, 2018

Not a one of them was telling the truth. In fact, the last guy, George McEwan was the biggest liar of them all. In fact he had a reputation as a liar. Monday night he proved once again what a big liar he was.

It’s my favorite event of the year. The Utah’s Biggest Liar’s competition was Monday night. In past years, I’ve been the MC and a finals judge. This year I judged the preliminaries. My seat at the judges table for the finals was given to an even bigger liar. A man named Bill Lepp is known for his tall tales all across the country. This being the 10th Anniversary of the Utah Biggest Liar’s competition, Bill came from West Virginia to both judge and tell a whopper of his own at the end of the evening.

If you’ve never been to a Liar’s competition, you might be tempted to think it’s just a slightly different version of a debate between politicians. It’s a lot more entertaining than that. And unlike the political speeches, an award winning lie has to at least have a grain of truth.

A winning story in a liar’s competition has to start out firmly based in reality and then slowly (but not too slowly) turn into a tall tale. Tellers have 6 minutes to spin their story.

I knew all six competitors. I’d heard them all tell stories over the years. At the end of the competition I had a pretty good idea who would be the top three finishers. I figured that George would walk away with his 5th Golden Shovel.

His stories are always tightly written with clever wordplay and build to a satisfying conclusion. Monday night was no different. He started talking about how he hated cats. By the end of six minutes, he and his feline enemy were flying through the air in a trajectory that had no basis in reality.

After the last teller, the hard part starts. The judges have to narrow it down to three winners. This is, of course done behind closed doors. During the deliberations, Bill Lepp got up to tell a story. He’s a master. His story flowed conversationally. He took back to his elementary school in rural West Virginia. He introduced us to interesting people who may or may not have been real people. He described one particular schoolmate who defided the teachers and description.

The kid ended up living in the rafters of the cafeteria. And listening, you might think, “Well, it could have happened like that.”

And that was the biggest difference between Bill Lepp and the six very talented story tellers. George told us a lie. We thanked him for it. In fact he won the people’s choice award. but, it was a definite story and by the end, we knew it was a lie. Bill, on the other hand, told us a story. At any point in the story we couldn’t neessarily point to an obvious lie. But by the end, we knew we’d been deceived. And we appreciated it. The other tellers took us to the land fo the impossible. Bill stopped just short of the land of the impossible and left us in the land of the highly, highly improbable.

If you are ever in Utah on the last Monday before April 1st, you should plan on stopping by the Orem Public Library. Go to the storytelling wing. You’ll have a great time. Just don’t believe anything anyone tells you.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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