One of These Jokes is Not Like the Other
Liar, Liar Show Keeps Audience Guessing
Everyone stretches the truth now and then.
Maybe that funny anecdote we told at dinner was exaggerated a teensy bit, and maybe This American Life contributor David Sedaris didn’t really work as a staff clerk in a mental hospital at age 13 to great comedic effect.
But two comics performing at Le Belmont later this week will take a sworn oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and not leave out the funny bits. A third comic, however, will lie through their teeth just to get a rise out of you. Only thing is, you won’t know which is which.
Concordia graduate Sasha Manoli is the brainchild behind the Liar, Liar Show, a new monthly stand-up comedy series where audiences are tasked with identifying who is telling the god’s honest truth, and who would perjure themselves just for a laugh.
“I think as audience members, we sort of take for granted how difficult it is for comics to go up there and not mix the two,” said Manoli.
The concept of “two truths, one lie” may be familiar to anyone who has gone to summer camp, or experienced an elementary school education, she said.
“I remember when I was in junior high school, teachers would often get us to play that game so that everyone could get to know one another. I just thought it was really cheesy and it was always kind of an uncomfortable thing that we were made to do, but I also thought it was really conducive to comedy.”
While many of the comedians selected for the show, including the high energy performance of Dave Merheje, David Heti and the versatile Asaf Gerchak, take their inspiration from real life, spinning lies woven from whole cloth will come as a challenge, says Manoli.
“Usually I’m just doing standup shows in a club with a host and a headliner, so anything different is worth it to me,” said Merheje, a Toronto comedian who will be visiting Montreal for the show.
Finding humour in everyday life, says Merheje, helped him cope with reality while growing up.
“I really loved Richard Pryor, and what he did was he took anything and everything around him and flipped it into funny. So that’s what I try to do,” he said. “In some instances you have to embellish certain things just to add a little twist, but I always strive to make it as real as possible.”
“Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, but it helps if you hang out with strange people,” said Chris Betts, who’ll be hosting the show in much the same campy vein as a 1970s game show host while wearing a three-piece suit borrowed from The Salvation Army.
“There are times where I’ve tried to exaggerate a real life occurrence for comedic effect and it just bombs, but then I tried telling the story as it actually happened and suddenly people were laughing,” said Betts.
Running parallel with the Liar, Liar Show is the web series the Hard Lying Truth, featuring comedians, artists and authors either recounting the greatest lies they’ve ever told—or the most embarrassing, revealing truths.
“You basically end up finding out gradually through the story whether or not what you’re hearing was about this person telling a lie or them telling something honest,” Manoli explained.
The range of questionable truths includes a comedienne who once told her parents that she was nearly kidnapped, to a woman who brought up the ‘realness’ of her date’s boobs and then never heard from her again.
Operating like a mass lie detector, audiences at the Liar, Liar Show will be given ballots to vote on which comedians they think strayed too far from their source material. If that night’s fibber is sufficiently deceptive, they’ll be crowned the resident “king of deception.” The comics who faired worse will get a consoling hug from a yet to be determined motherly figure.
The Liar, Liar Show will premiere at Le Belmont (4483 St. Laurent Blvd.) on Jan. 13 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance or $14 at the door. If you have a motherly nature and want to hug the Liar, Liar Show’s losers each month, contact Sasha Manoli at email@example.com. For the Hard Lying Truth, visit flavors.me/liarliarshow.
This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 18, published January 11, 2011.