Tall Tales Overview

 Timing; 4 to 6 minutes.

A tall tale is a story that is greatly exaggerated with unbelievable elements. The ‘tall’ is used to describe an ‘obvious extension’ from the usual meaning.

A careful blend of exaggerated and credible details. Don’t exaggerate everything in your tale. Use some realistic details to hook your audience, because they can picture themselves in such a situation. Then blend in exaggerated details to amaze them with a tall tale. With this judicious combination of various details, you can really set up your audience to laugh. For example, a story about an ordinary person walking into a cave and encountering a bat as big as a bear cub can be hilarious. A story about a ten-foot-tall man digging a tunnel to the center of the Earth, where he encounters dragons and dinosaurs, is more fantasy than funny.

A comical ending. The last lines should make the audience chuckle and/or groan. Clever twists and puns can also be sprinkled throughout the story.

A tall tale should have some believability

There should be turns and twists. A good Tall Tale speech should have lots of unexpected twists that brings the audience members in one direction, then land the punchline in another direction. What makes a tall tale speech, tall, is the exaggeration. Take In a tall tale, the twist can, and should, be exaggerated.

It is important to have elements of complete believability to hide the exaggeration.

In a tall tale speech, since exaggeration is expected, repeat the exaggeration that you know will get the biggest laughs, once or twice.

Together with exaggeration, irony and puns are great rhetorical devices to use in a tall tales speech.

Humor is an important element. Although a tall tale speech contest is not a humorous speech contest, humour plays a huge part in the judging process.

If there is conflict, you’d want the character to solve the problem in a humorous or unexpected way.

Playing with words and sounds and puns work. A tall tale speech is the best time to include and practice alliterations, triads, homonyms and accents.

Use it in the narration, use it in the dialogues and in the exaggerations.

Repetition is a great way to induce callback humour in a speech and make it livelier. Keep your repetitions down to 3 or less.

Includes lots of pauses, if you get laughter, pause to let the audience have time to let exaggeration sink in and to enjoy your humour.  Pauses are used to get attention, to build suspense, to control the stage

You do not want the speech to swing the other extreme and talk about sex, politics, religion or drugs. Tall tales work best if there is a wholesomeness to it.

Really the sky is the limit, you can take any direction you wish, just make your audience wonder and make them enjoy your tall tale.

Looking at how contests are judged, gives you a good idea of what you need to do. Review the following judges forms and you will see what I mean.