Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The Unmistakable Michael McCarty "Have Mouth.  Will Run It"

My career as a professional storyteller began in 1992 here in Los Angeles. I met Joel ben Izzy at CAJE(Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education), where he was introduced to me as professional storyteller. That same day I attended my first storytelling concert, and heard Penninah Schram, Karen Golden, and many other tellers.

Joel Ben Izzy

A few weeks later I was at my second storytelling event, a benefit for the Aquarius Bookstore that had been burned down during the ’92 Rodney King verdict insurrection. A dozen African and African-American storytellers performed, organized by Leslie Perry who recently passed on, leaving a rich legacy of organizing and storytelling.

Leslie Perry

My belly flop into the storytelling world would take me around the country and all over the planet learning and sharing stories.

The Michael Mobile

I can’t remember the first time that I heard the phrase, “..but I’m just a storyteller,” but it grated my storytelling soul. There was a reference to being confronted with an intense emotional drama at a school during a storytelling assembly or perhaps in a classroom. The teller was overwhelmed by the situation and did not feel qualified to contribute to a solution for the crisis.

Storytelling exists to help people deal with the ups, downs and sideways of life.  And often it does not require deep contemplation. Just tell stories. 

Once upon a time I was presenting two storytelling assemblies at an elementary school. The first group were the third, forth and fifth graders. I rocked their world! It was a fun session and both students and teachers laughed their butts off.

After the first group exited, one forth grade girl remained. She walked up to me and said in a very serious tone, “Mr. McCarty, I wanted to thank you for your stories. They made me laugh. I haven’t laughed in a long time. Thank you.” She shook my hand and walked away. I was stunned. Speechless. 

A few minutes later the principal came in and I informed her of what had just transpired. She told me that that little girl’s father had committed suicide a few months prior. So, for that little girl on that day, laughing was the most important thing in her life.

We learn a variety of stories so as to have something for just about any situation. I arrived to do a Halloween program at another elementary school and was informed that one of the most popular students in the school had died suddenly the previous day. Teachers and students were all in a deep funk.

The cow tail switch was considered a renowned gift. It was given to someone that deserved the highest accolades and honor.

I opened my program acknowledging their loss and told, The Cow Tail Switch, a Liberian folktale, the theme of which is that as long as we remember our friends and family that has passed on, as long as we remember and tell their stories, no one is ever really dead. And I told them why that story was special to me. When my Mom passed away in 1995, Akoni the Story man, who I’d met at the above-mentioned benefit in 1992, told that story and dedicated it to my Mom and me.

There were tears and applause. Then they were ready for scary stories.

I could go on but methinks you get the point. We are much, much more than “just storytellers.” Now run and tell that!

‎"If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest,
but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life."

—Siberian Elder

Michael is a multicultural storyteller of African, African-American and International Folk tales, Historical tales, Stories of Science, Spiritual stories as well as stories of the brilliant and absolutely stupid things he has done in his life.
His stories inform, educate, inspire and amuse. His storytelling style is energetic and enthusiastic.

You can find Michael D. McCarty on the web at"

Happy Telling!

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