The art of storytelling vs the truth

This board should give some interesting responses to something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I grew up reading lots of fantasy books, and one of my favorite characters was always the old storyteller or bard? I just loved the idea of some body devoting their lives to just wandering around entertaining people. With movies and Tv and books the art of the storyteller has changed but I believe it still exists. When you meet someone who has really mastered how to tell a story, you know has all the phrasing and timing and inflection down perfectly, it really is messmerizing. When I was in high school I worked on a construction crew during the summer and there was this old guy named Rodrigo. He never did a damn thing except lean on something and tell stories. Everybody knew most of it was total bullshit, but it didn’t matter cause he really knew how to tell a story, and it made the time pass quicker. There was an unspoken agreement between the guys and the boss that everybody would just cover his share of the work, bullshit was his job.

Generally around this board people pounce and kill urban legends like Van Helsing on Dracula. But my debate is, are they really that bad? Is the entertainment factor worth a little lying? I will clearly differentiate between entertaining ULs and harmful ones. The one about the kidney and the bathtub in Vegas is just going to scare people. And ones like writing X on your tax return to get out of paying taxes agian will just get someone stupid in trouble. Also the personal ones like Mr. Rodgers was a convicted pedophile are just wrong and slanderous.

The ones I’m really talking about are like the guy who writes beyond the time limit and throws the blue books all over the room, or the rocket car. The blue book guy is an entertaining little story with a little bit of “getting back at the man” satisfaction. Plus the fact it does seem reasonable that with all the slacker students in the history of time, something very simliar probably did happen. The rocket car is something that has probabbly been considered in the back of the mind to everybody at one time or another, and it would be cool to believe that somebody actually did ty it once, although If i remember the UL correctly the guy died, so maybe that part should be changed.

I love sitting in bars and bullshiting, or chillin around a campfire. And I will admit that I have on ocassion told stories that were not entirely accurate. None of the obvious well known ULs cause something everybody knows has no storytelling value. Stories about how you got three supermodels in bed at the same time are just stupid attempts to impress people and will lose all credibility. But maybe it makes a better story if it was me instead of my friend, or maybe its better if it was him instead of me. Or maybe that story about that guy I heard once, with a little reconfiguring, would be damn funny right now. Maybe what Bob actually said doesn’t make quite as good a punchline as what I thought of that he should have said. Nothing too perfect cause that just sounds fake and wrecks the story, but a little rephrasing might improve the mood more.

All of my friends do the same thing, and everybody knows its not all true. Like I said its not trying to impress anybody, and if people are constantly calling you on your version then you’re missing the point that the entertainment value is the goal, not that everybody thinks you are the coolest person alive. So am I the antichrist for slipping in a harmless UL or untruth on ocassion, or do you do the same thing.
P.S. On the otherhand Like I said, some times are good to tell stories, and some arn’t. Before anybody gets the wrong idea, as this board is dedicated to getting to the bottom of the matter I am in no way endorsing or defending people spreading UL or stories around here. I’m strictly talking about personal social situations. Past the entertainment value there is a need for places like this and snopes to satisfy the curiousity of whether the story is true or even feasible.

I can appreciate the value of good storytelling, and when you’re telling a lie to someone who has no expectation that you are telling the truth and you know he has no expectation of it, then I think there’s no problem at all. I do have a moral problem with lying to someone who doesn’t know or expect you to be lying, but otherwise, what you’re essentially doing is sharing fiction. And to answer your questions, I’ve told my friends stories that weren’t true just to be telling stories (but usually let them know they were fictional afterward) and I don’t think that that alone would make you the antichrist. :slight_smile:

Misleading people by giving them a Narrative Version of reality, is generally a bad thing to the extent that it encourages fundamental misconceptions.

For example, reality typically doesn’t have the transparent poetic justice that runs through many urban legends.

On the other hand, entertainment is a good thing.

One might compromise by relating your woppers with a twinkle in your eye. If it’s understood that you’re not telling the story with a complete eye to accuracy, and that your words may very well be fictional, then folks can mentally compensate for that.

(I, myself, like relate stories with a stronger grip on reality, but that’s just me.)

Along the same lines, passing along an unlabeled UL via email is generally a bad thing, in that you in practice lose control of your audience.

A friend of mine in college called storytelling “the art of embellishment.”

My bachelor party was a fairly boring, low-key affair. To hear my friend tell it, the party was the craziest thing this side of Caligula. The major facts are all there, but they’ve been dressed up an awful lot…

But I like the way he tells it a lot better than the way I tell it. :smiley: