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Tall Tale

  • By: Nancy Cassell McEntire
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The tall tale is a fictional, exaggerated, humorous folk narrative, often told in the first person or as an account of the experiences of a relative or friend. It contains an increasingly implausible series of events, usually related to the weather, rural life, or traditional male occupations. Other names for the tall tale include lie, tall story, windy, whopper, long bow, and yarn. The act of telling a tall tale may be called tall-talking, lying, or leg-pulling. These terms suggest that the tall tale is a deliberately dishonest narrative, which it is; yet its primary purpose is entertainment. It thrives in oral performance, especially with a skillful teller and an appreciative audience. As an example of traditional folk humor, it has significant artistic value and ...

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