2017 greatest storyteller

Debra Ehrhardt, the 2017 winner of the Search for the Greatest Storyteller, will kick off the 2018 season Monday.

Storytellers will once again gather on the last Monday of the month, taking six minutes to relate a true tale in a way to sway the audience and judges.

Called Long Beach Searches for Its Greatest Storyteller, the contest is the brainchild of Mariana Williams. She says she came up with the idea after competing in a Los Angeles episode of The Moth, a national series of storytelling contests that has become a radio show distributed by Public Radio Exchange (PRX).

"I just thought, ‘we ought to have something like this in Long Beach'," Williams has said. "There are lots of stories here."

The format is for six to eight storytellers to offer a tale. Audience members and a panel of three judges vote for their favorite story, and the winner receives $100.

Williams produces the show and chooses the storytellers. Story ideas are submitted to her (only five lines) at marianaStoryteller@gmail.com.

"To get to the point, create suspense and wrap it up in six minutes is a skill," Williams said. "The storytellers deserve to be rewarded and we are entertained. It's a win-win."

Stories can be funny, sad, poignant or dramatic. The only rules are the time limit and basing the story on a true incident in the storyteller's life.

An intermission usually is livened up with entertainment or a story from Williams or her husband, famous singer/songwriter Paul Williams.

Tickets are $6 at the door or at brownpapertickets.com. Malainey's Grill (formerly Malarkey's Grill) at Alamitos Bay Landing, 168 N. Marina Drive, is the venue. The show starts at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29.

Another session will take place on the last Monday of every month through July. In August, the winners of the monthly contests will tell another tale to try to win the title of Long Beach's Greatest Storyteller. 

For more information, go to www.marianawilliams.net.

—Harry Saltzgaver

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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