Pixar Studios *Still* Offers Free Storytelling Lessons Online

Bill Murray on Art & Life

Embed from Getty Images

Bill Murray is a wonderful storyteller. A couple of years ago, I linked to this wonderful interview with Bill Murray by Howard Stern. In this radio interview, Murray said the key to being funny was being able to tell stories. How, then, does one become a good storyteller, Stern asked. "Is it something you are born with?" Murray's reply:

"No, I don't think you're born with it. You have to hear stories and you have to live stories. You have to have a bunch of experiences and be able to say 'Here's something that happened to me yesterday....' And if you can make people laugh by telling them what happened to you, then you are telling the story well. So that's what I learned in improv...."

People often ask great storytellers—writers, producers, directors, authors, etc.—where they come up with their stories. They inevitably say something like "write/tell what you know." In other words, write (or speak) from your own life experiences. This is why I always say you have to live a life to tell a life. I believe this is what Murray is saying above when he says it's important to have a "bunch of experiences" from which to draw. The experiences—good and bad (but especially bad)—are like a persona library of history and insights for the storyteller.

The video above is a nice example of a simple, short story that Murray tells, seemingly impromptu, to a question from the press during a panel interview for the film The Monuments Men. Most people may think nothing of this tale from his life, but it's a great example of the everyday kind of real-life memory from one's past which holds a lesson or a gem of wisdom. His recollection is a kind of "man-in-hole" story. Right from the beginning, we hear of a traumatic failing that sends Murray out onto the streets of Chicago for a long walk. He's at his lowest, and things look like they will get worse. He continues to walk, not feeling especially hopeful, until he stumbles upon the Art Institute of Chicago. There, expecting nothing, he is moved by a piece of art. His day went from one of his worst to one with hope and a new perspective, in part because of being exposed to The Song of The Lark, an 1884 painting by Jules Adolphe Breton.



Julie Kertesz - me - moi - jk

Thank you! I forwarded this to my Facebook page.

Michelle Diehl

Thanks so much for this perfect illustration of a great storyteller, Bill Murray.
So often, people tell me they can't make a presentation funny because they "don't know any good jokes.". It is sooooo not about jokes, but about being open and self-assured enough to share stories--the good, the bad and the ugly--to give folks an emotional anchor to whatever information you are trying to impart.

Jennifer Wright

Thank you so much for sharing this post. It' true that Art can change our lives. I believe a good story teller can change a story quality. I am also in Interior Decoration. A good design or ideas can change the looks of a room. To check my art, you can visit window shutters Florida

The comments to this entry are closed.