Rebus-inspired story wins Tall Tales Oscar 2016

The 2016 Tall Tales Oscar was awarded on Saturday night to Ken Johnston from Carnoustie, a member of Dundee-based Blether Tay-Gither Storytelling Group. With a colourful statue of a leprechaun as its prize, the Tall Tales Oscar is awarded to the teller of the most fantastic but believable story, as voted by the live audience here at the Storytelling Centre.

Ken scooped the prize after a hard week for Dundee – cruelly denied the invention of marmalade – with a hilarious yarn depicting what it’s like to be an extra in a crime series set in the city. After a long day waiting to feature as a naked corpse, he was adorned with makeup and a dandelion in an intimate orifice – but then fell asleep on the job and was accidentally left on set in the streets of the Jute and Jam capital.

When asked about the origin of the story, Ken said:

“My old friend, Dennis, is a senior lecturer in forensic sciences at Dundee University and from time to time, shares a platform with Ian Rankin at book signings and other events to do with murder most foul. They appear to be interchangeable at these events and it gives them some amusement (they both deal in murder and forensic pathology, so they’re probably easy to amuse).

From my meetings with Dennis, I began to wonder how it would be to play a corpse in an episode of Rebus. The story began to grow legs until it led me to the Storytelling Centre and I re-emerged as Lazarus. What’s it like to be one of the living dead? Well, I do live in Carnoustie!”

Veteran Tall Taler Jack Martin of Edinburgh was runner-up, with a moving tale of a growing attachment for crows – particularly the talking variety. 2015 winner Fiona Herbert presided over the award ceremony, entertaining the crowd with an extra story while the votes were counted: her encounter on African safari, with a lion and an elephant in full maternal rage, led to a lot of olfactory detail that could only be conveyed live…

The Tall Tales Oscar will be back in 2017. Hear last year’s winning tale here.