What is a Tall Tale?
According to Carolyn S. Brown in The Tall Tale in American Folklore and Literature, a tall tale is “a fictional story which is told in the form of personal narrative or anecdotes, which challenges the listener’s credulity with comic outlandishness, and which performs different social functions depending on whether it is heard as true or as fictional.”
Remember that time you caught the 20-foot shark with nothing but a marshmallow and some bailing wire? Or the time that you outran the Porsche with your Palimino? If you can tell your story in such a way that your audience plays along, perhaps even sort of believe you, then you’ve got yourself a Tall Tale.
In Toastmasters, this 4-6 minute speech is quite the artform. There are classes on how to craft them, including things like rhyme, alliteration, and comic timing. You’re especially in for some heavy competition here in the Las Vegas Valley, where you’re surrounded by professional performers. Uncle Lucas’ Legacy was my first try at a Tall Tale.
This story was written entirely in iambic pentameter, and was probably the most difficult speech I’ve ever had to remember. Whoo! See if I do THAT again! I’d much rather just tell the story…but I do recommend doing something like this for the lessons you’ll get along the way.