'Master Liar' will tell a few at Garrard banquet

October 04, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

LANCASTER - Garrard County Chamber of Commerce will host a special guest this year for it's annual banquet Oct. 26, at the Garrard County High School cafeteria and auditorium. The meal is 6 p.m. with the performance to follow at 7:30 p.m.

Bil Lepp, a professional storyteller who performs nationally for schools, seminars and lectures will be speaker.

Judy Clark, chamber vice president, said the chamber feels very lucky that he is coming to perform and is aware that many in the community never knew professional storytellers even existed.

Clark said they wanted to make things a little different and attract more people to the banquet.

"We want to start changing the venue for our bigger events to try and get more people involved, not only from Garrard, but other communities as well."

The Chamber of Commerce may be refer to Lepp as a professional storyteller, but Lepp holds the title of "Master Liar" and is the five-time winner of the West Virginia's Liar's Contest which was held at the National Storytelling Festival.


"The contest is out of Charleston, and about 20 people enter, about five who are really serious about telling stories. The winner gets $100 and a trophy that's a scale size barn shovel. Most of us are after the shovel, not the money," Lepp said.

When asked what the difference is between being noted as a professional storyteller and a master liar, Lepp responded: "Well, it is considered a lie. That's what a tall tale is - a creative lie!"

Lepp has an interesting background.

"I have my degree in theology and was a preacher for the Methodist church, but haven't done that for about three years." Lepp got involved in storytelling due to his older brother, Paul, who he had watched in several different contests.

"I just saw him and others, and thought, 'Hey, I can do this!"

He is on the road performing about 120 days out of the year, averaging about 100 shows.

Many of the stories are about "Buckdog"

Lepp invests about 20 hours of preparation into each story; he writes all of the tales he tells, with the exception of some of his late brother's stories he sometimes uses. He centers many of his stories around his dog, "Buckdog," who he says is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Basset Hound, which is pretty funny if you think about it," he said.

There is an obvious point in his stories, Lepp says, where listeners realize that he is no longer dealing with things that can actually happen. "That's what makes it a tall tale."

Lepp's key phrase is that he "speaks to everyone from doctors to funeral directors and everything in between," which is a tag line on his Web site. He also does workshops for storytelling to children, which, he said that more and more people are interested in every day.

The material that Lepp writes and uses in his performance is mostly geared towards adults, but he said that "it's really universal. When I started storytelling it was in West Virginia" (where he resides) "so I knew my audience very well. But I've been able to tell any stories to anyone anywhere, and all people understand them."

Lepp has visited different parts of Kentucky, including the Cave Run Storytelling Festival in Morehead. He said that he's very much looking forward to being in Lancaster for the first time.

To make a good liar, Lepp says that you have to believe what you are saying. "Take these old guys that sit on the front porches, telling their stories. You know that most of what they're saying didn't really happen, but you listen anyway. It's because they believe it - they believe in what they're saying, so the listener can believe in it a little while, too."

Lepp says that he works on the delivery of his story as hard as he does the writing; he wants to present it like he believes it.

Finally, The Master Liar Lepp added that's it's ironic, but, "You have to first build trust in people so that they will believe in your lying."

More information can be found on Lepp's website at

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