Storyteller Bil Lepp shares Santa’s big secret


By: Logan Pierce, Editor-in-chief

On Sep. 8, nationally renowned storyteller Bil Lepp preformed for children and adults in the H. B. Atkinson Theater.

For nearly 20 years, Lepp has traveled the country sharing his storytelling skills with everyone. Lepp lives in W.Va. with his wife and two young children, and is a five-time winner of the West Virginia State Liars’ Contest, an event that honors tellers of tall tales.

Hearing Lepp describe his upbringing, it’s difficult to discern where the truth ends and the tale begins. Lou Harry of the Indianapolis Business Journal said, “Bil Lepp – think Jeff Foxworthy with the comedic patience of Bill Cosby… It would be very difficult… to discern the structural difference between Lepp’s antic hunting story and Woody Allen’s classic “I shot a moose once” tale.”

One story Lepp shared involved driving with his children. It was winter, and they saw many Christmas decorations, one of which was a giant inflatable Santa Claus. This particular model worked on a timer, and only inflated at night. When Lepp’s children saw the deflated Christmas icon, they asked, “Is Santa dead?” “Only during the day,” Lepp said, “Don’t worry, though. Santa comes back to life at night.”

Bil Lepp entertains audiences young and old in the H.B. Atkinson Theathre with his unique style of colloquial storytelling. Photo by Tracie Bullen

Breaking from the narrative, Lepp talked to the audience about parenting. “Have you ever asked your kids, ‘Why don’t you use the brains God gave you? Let’s be honest. As parents, that’s the last thing we want our kids to do. Because then we have to make up an answer.” Lepp said.

Processing the knowledge that Santa died during the day and came to life at night, Lepp’s children asked their father, “Dad, is Santa a vampire?” Being a good parent, Lepp said yes.

“There’s no better way to keep your kids in bed at night around Christmastime,” Lepp said, “Just have them believe that in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Vampire Santa prowls the world looking for naughty kids. I told my kids to sleep with garlic around their beds.”

In 2011, Lepp’s comedic album, Vampire Santa, won a Storytelling World Award. Lepp is a man who has proved that it is possible to make a career out of lying without getting into politics.

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