Masters of Storytelling: My all time favourite? Part 1 of 3

You might be surprised to learn who my favorite storyteller is.

I guess I fell in love with him when I was 9 or 10, reading the stories  about his life he published as “The Moons a Balloon” and “Bring on the Empty Horses.”

David Niven won the 1958 Oscar for best actor, but even his best friends would tell you that his acting never quite achieved the brilliance or the polish of his dinner-party conversations.

Sure he could tell a story. But Niven had three qualities that made him special for me, over and above his skill as a storyteller.

The first: When he was asked why he seemed so incredibly cheerful all the time, he replied:

“Well, old bean, life is really so bloody awful that I feel it’s my absolute duty to be chirpy and try and make everybody else happy too”

Here’s David Niven doing what he did best. Making people laugh.

Check my comments below, see what you think.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvtrWuLXuzQ

 

Here’s what I got what from watching that a couple of times

1) He’s nervous. He’s asked to perform a joke to order and he delivers it and gets the laughs, but check out his non verbal behaviour when he finishes the joke. All that chin touching, tie straightening and chest stroking are classic “tells”. He’s uncomfortable- (or he’s signalling discomfort- it could be a deliberate display for lowering his status)

The guy has been performing stories in public for 40 or 50 years and he’s still nervous.

2) The “tells” stop when he’s telling the story. (in fact they slow down, he touches his chest twice while he’s telling the story)

3) What ever you think of the joke itself, it is delivered with marvellous economy. A few gestures, a reference to a “rock” and “weeds” are all he uses to paint the underwater kingdom.

In part two I’m going to share the second quality Niven brought to his life that I admire.

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