When my wife and I came up with the idea of Perfect Liars Club more than a year ago, we had no idea it would turn into such a phenomenon. We’d recently moved from London, UK to Washington for work, and didn’t want to just be passing through: we wanted to be part of the city’s cultural life. And we both love storytelling. It just felt right.
There are lots of different storytelling shows. The best known is probably The Moth, a world-famous competitive storytelling tournament. And in fact The Moth was our introduction to the whole brilliant world of storytelling. We were on our honeymoon in New York and happened to spot this storytelling night in the East Village. We didn’t really know what it was. We assumed it wouldn’t be very busy. So when we got there, we were completely dumbfounded to find a huge line snaking all the way around the block. What WAS this storytelling thing? We very nearly didn’t get in but after some cajoling, they squeezed us into a back corner and we were hooked!
Back home, we found London’s answer to The Moth, Spark London, and I started telling stories for the first time. By which I mean I turned my collection of amusing anecdotes about crazy things that had happened to me into 7-minute polished versions and performed them on a stage, in front of an audience. As someone who always dreamed of being on the stage but lacked any acting, musical or dancing talent, I was delighted: I’d finally found my genre!
Storytelling feels almost like a cult genre. Everyone has probably been to a play or a concert, but I find not that many people have been to a storytelling show. I had my own doubts before I experienced it: I worried it would be for kids, or a bit worthy.
But storytelling shows are like a fabulous mashup of comedy, theatre, and something a bit magical. You never know what you’re going to hear. It’s fascinating, entertaining, and because the stories are true, it makes you feel connected (or at least, gives you license to be nosy!).
Perfect Liars Club is different because the stories aren’t always true… but we try to trick you into believing they are. Four people tell a story, and three are absolutely true. But one is lying. After their stories comes an interrogation where members of the audience, who have been storing up suspicions during the story part of the show, start quizzing the quartet of suspects on discrepancies in their stories, to spot the liar. We underestimated how much people enjoy the old ‘spot the liar’ game.
On our opening night last year, [when not in Fringe, Perfect Liars Club performances are at The Science Club] we were absolutely surprised and delighted to find it sold out. And since then, it’s become insane. I put the tickets for the next show on sale at 1pm on a particular day and by 1:02, they’re usually all gone. People tell me they set alarms, they get their mothers to get tickets if they’re in work meetings… everyone who gets into our monthly shows has made a major effort to secure their seats. It’s brilliant: it’s like we’re doing a rock show. It’s absolutely become a bit of a cult. And we get the best performers in town.
We decided to bring the show to Capital Fringe mainly because we love Capital Fringe – we’ve attended for the past two years, and it’s so lovely to feel the city relax from our political wonkery into an arts town. Last year we dreamed of how fun it would be to bring Perfect Liars Club to the Festival… and then we realized we could turn the dream into action! Also, because it’s so hard to get tickets to our monthly show, we thought it would be nice to let the less-organized/nerdy people get tickets too, with more seats and dates. Perfect Liars Club is hilarious, unusual, involving, and has been a surprise hit – and my favorite evening of every month. We can’t wait to share it with wider audiences at Capital Fringe.
If you want to test your shrewdness, click here to read a little story and see if you can spot the 6 discrepancies that would make you suspect it of all being a lie! Then buy your tickets – and do consider coming to more than one night: the stories will be completely different, the suspects (handpicked stars of DC’s storytelling scene) will often be different, plus if you guess the liar right, there are prizes to be won!
Perfect Liars Club is on 10th July (6:30pm), 13th July (6:30pm), 19th July (10pm) and 20th July (7:15pm) at the beautifully air conditioned Goethe Institut,812 7th Street NW,Washington, DC 20001.
Buy your tickets here before it’s too late.
— by guest writer Layla McCay, co-creator of Perfect Liars Club