Seeking Dishonesty, One True Story at a Time

September 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Andy Christie might have the best job off broadway: he gets to direct The Truth. “I try to tell people who’re telling the truth not to act like they’re lying,” says Christie. “The temptation of some performers is to look shifty; I tell them not to do that.” Ever since he began his series at People Improv Theatre in 2006, Christie has been playing with Honesty–and getting his audiences to play along with him. “I used to go to The Moth and was always curious how many grains of truth were missing from stories. People would hang around after and ask questions to this effect, and I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to make that part of the act? Why not ask those questions while the show’s going on and get it all out in the open?”

The Liar Show has had the same format since inception. Four storytellers tell four stories. Three of them are telling the honest-to-goodness truth; one of them is pretending to. The only rule is that truth-tellers cannot embellish too many non-truths and liars cannot blend in too many true facts. This is critical during phase 2: the interrogation. “There’s no panel of experts, the audience just yells things out. It tends to start slow, but then two or three questions in it just picks up, and everyone piles on other people’s questions. It can get heated sometimes, particularly when you’re really grilling somebody who’s telling the truth!” At the end, votes are taken by show of hand, and whomever uncovers the Liar is rewarded with a t-shirt and no small measure of satisfaction.

It turns out the exercise is cathartic for all parties. “It’s kind of a kick in the stomach for some performers when they tell the truth and they’re doubted,” posits Christie, “particularly when your whole currency is telling the truth. It makes them think about what sounds true in their work and what doesn’t.” Plus given the paucity of straightforward, unadulterated honesty in, for example, some of your more prevalent media, the show gives people the opportunity to experience the thrill of unmasking dishonesty. “We’re all small potatoes compared to the people who’re really lying out there. Folks can come here and speak out.”

So who’re the best liars? “Fiction writers, not surprisingly, tend to be the best. It’s not about the performances as much as how easily they can rip themselves away from their real lives; lots of folks concoct a lie that turns out to be 90% true. People who’re used to make things up can do consistent, legitimate lies very well.” Humor, excitement, BS-calling kicks, and even deep thinky questions about the meaning of veracity all await the Liar Show’s truth-seekers. Christie and his band appear downstairs Saturday, September 25th at 6pm. Call 212/989-9319 for reservations.

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