Larry Porricelli
Larry Porricelli tells a tale. He will be one of the seven finalists.

It's showdown time.

For the last seven months, on the first Monday of every month, live storytelling fans have gathered at Malainey's Grill in Alamitos Bay Landing to hear seven or eight purportedly true stories, voting for their favorite. The crowd's favorite wins $100 and the chance to compete for the title of 2019 Long Beach's Greatest Storyteller.

On Monday, Aug. 5, that title will be decided.

This is the ninth season for the series, produced by Mariana Williams. An author of three books and a storyteller in her own right (she was a finalist in a Los Angeles production of "The Moth" radio show), Williams picks the storytellers for the monthly contests.

“Stories are submitted by email. I only need about five lines or so, and that helps me keep the show balanced between the OMG, upbeat and poignant stories,” Williams said.

There's no need for those decisions for the August event, though. The monthly winners can retell the tale that got them to the finals in the first place, or offer a new story, as long as it's true.

All stories are supposed to be six minutes or less. The crowd votes at the end of the evening, along with three judges — whose five votes each are supposed to balance out any potential ballot stuffing by friends of the storytellers.

This year's finalists are Charla Howard, Ben Rodriguez, Larry Porricelli, Dave Clark, Cynthia Neiman, Ron Chick and David Olmos. Because of the event's popularity, the finals take place in two rooms at Malainey's, with storytellers switching rooms at intermission.

The prizes are the same as the monthly event — $100 to the winner and a gift certificate to Malainey's for second. But the real prize Aug. 5 will be the title — Long Beach's Greatest Storyteller.

Tickets to the event are $20, and there will be a buffet dinner available for purchase. The stories begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at Searches Finals, Season 9. Tickets also will be sold at the door while they last.

Malainey's Grill is at 168 N. Marina Dr. There will be a shuttle from the nearby marina parking lot for those who can't find parking at the center. For more information, email

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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