Liam McLaughlin

Liam McLaughlin tells his winning story in January. He'll be back in May with Irish music.

It's been more than a year since Mariana Williams last stepped up to a microphone to say "who's Long Beach's best storyteller?"

Next Monday, May 3, Williams will resume the celebration of Long Beach's Search for the Greatest Storyteller's 10th anniversary. The storytelling party takes place at 7 p.m. the first Monday of the month at Malainey's Grill, the Irish restaurant and bar in the Alamitos Landing complex, 168 N. Marina Dr.

Williams came up with the storytelling contest after competing herself in The Moth, a national storytelling nonprofit and public radio show. In Long Beach, for seven months of the year, seven or eight storytellers compete to see who can tell the best true story in six minutes — winners are decided by the audience and a panel of judges. Monday's judges will be Long Beach author Darlene Quinn and Grunion Executive Editor Harry Saltzgaver.

Winners receive $100 and an invite to that year's finals in August to name the Greatest Storyteller of the year.

When statewide shutdown orders came in March 2020, the storytelling was in the midst of the 2020 season. Entertainer Liam McLaughlin had won in January, Dusty Thompson was February's winner and Doyle Smiens took March's contest.

Wes White, who lost by a single vote in February, will be crowned April's winner, Williams said, and participate in the finals.

"We've already got storytellers lined up for May 3," Williams said. "Debra Ehrhardt, the 2019 winner, will be our guest storyteller, and Liam McLaughlin will treat us to some Irish music since we missed St. Patrick's Day."

While Malainey's is open again, there still are COVID-19 restrictions, so tickets are limited. Cost is $6 a ticket, and can be reserved at If there is still room, tickets will be sold at the door.

Those tickets are admission only — Malainey's will be offering food and drink for sale.

Plans call for storytelling sessions on June 7 and July 5. To be considered as a storyteller for those evenings, send a two or three sentence synopsis of your story to Williams at

Then it will be on to the finals in August, Williams said.

For more information about the May 3 event or Long Beach Searches for the Greatest Storyteller in general, go to


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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