I’ve encountered some fantastic liars in my time, masters in the art of misrepresentation and exaggeration, true virtuosos of verbal misdirection.  But it’s been my experience that what separates the accomplished fabricators from the truly great ones is a single thing: a detachment from reality.  I’m reminded of that episode of Seinfeld where George counsels Jerry on gaming a lie detector test.  “Jerry, just remember…”he tells him.  “It’s not a lie…if you believe it.”  Yes, the greatest liars are so fucking delusional that they manage to convince themselves what they are saying is the God’s honest truth so that, in the end, no amount of arguing or logical pushback will dissuade them from the irrefutable fact that they didn’t say that, do that, or attempt to orchestrate a coup through the junior rep at your agency.  They’re tireless squabblers, tenacious in their cockeyed convictions, who excel at digressing, deflecting or altering their line of reasoning mid-stream so that, by the time you finish debating them, they’ll almost have you questioning YOUR reality.

So, yes, in my opinion, to be a truly great liar, you have to suffer from some sort of dissociative disorder.

The worst liars on the other hand – well, they’re either naturally bad it or just fucking lazy.  I understand the former, but the latter is inexcusable. I mean, come on.  If you’re going to go through all the trouble of lying, put in some effort. Don’t deliver an attempt so half-assed that it lies there as obtrusive and awkward as that dump your dog took at Frieda Carmichael’s engagement party.

I mean, I don’t want to criticize, but come on.  I get it.  You were tired.  Or caught off guard.  You had to wing it and improv is not your specialty.  Still, in the future, you’d be well-served to keep these rules in mind for a more effective, less blundering prevarication:

1 – Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Boy, there is nothing more frustrating than making up a story out of pure imagination replete with reasonable motivation and plausible detail only to have someone – say a friend, partner, or underling – undermine your bullshit by offering up a completely different fraudulent tale.  That’s not just sloppy.  It’s embarrassing.

2 – Make sure your lie makes sense.

In order for a lie to be believed, it has to get past the most basic of bullshit barometer. That is to say, it should, at the very least, possess the merest semblance of truth. Where you run into trouble is when the pseudo-facts you use to bolster your lie can be so easily repudiated that you must resort to shouting in the hope that everyone present focuses on your voice and conveniently forgets the words that just came out of your mouth.

3 – Add frosting!

Cake is always better with frosting, isn’t it?  Well, so are lies.  Butter up your marks with seemingly genuine praise.  Position your lie in a way that would suggest believing it might be beneficial to the people you are trying to hoodwink. On the other hand, you could cloak yourself in the mantle of altruism, claim your sole motivation is in seeing the truth set free…in spite of how seemingly implausible it does sound.

4 – Keep it consistent.

There is nothing more frustrating than a liar who is either unable or unwilling to stay the course, contradicting their lies with a whole new set of lies, forcing everyone else to feign temporary amnesia in order to humor them as one would a small child proudly displaying their macaroni sculpture.  How lazy can you be? Write that shit down and consult your notes before slinging a fresh round of fabrications.  You can’t just improvise and hope for the best.  What do you think this is, the writers’ room for of the Hangover sequels?

5 – Keep it brief – and if necessary, vague.

Common sense would dictate that the more elaborate lies would be perceived as the most authentic and while that is true, this only applies to competent liars – which, unfortunately, is not you.  So deliver the bare minimum and focus on making that sound convincing instead of getting hung up on details you can’t be trusted to deliver or defend.  In the event someone asks you to elucidate, feign indignation at the ambiguous nature of the information you were forced to relay. If pressed, fake a medical condition.

I’m sure there are many more helpful tips available to you online that will allow you to hone and improve your craft.  I encourage you to look into them while, hopefully, also making use of the suggestions outlined in this blog entry.

I look forward to higher quality lying from you in the not too distant future.

Wishing you all the best (This, I will admit, is a lie),

Joe

26 thoughts on “The Art of Lying!

  1. This is an extremely accurate post. No lie.

    I am curious if there’s a backstory that prompted this helpful guide, though.

  2. Oh my. Someone apparently really pissed you off.
    I’m glad you were able to vent here. That was a masterful piece on lying.
    Hope you feel better soon Joe.

  3. “None of us could live with an habitual truth-teller; but thank goodness none of us has to. An habitual truth-teller is simply an impossible creature; he does not exist; he never has existed. Of course there are people who think they never lie, but it is not so — and this ignorance is one of the very things that shame our so-called civilization. Everybody lies — every day; every hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joy; in his mourning; if he keeps his tongue still, his hands, his feet, his eyes, his attitude, will convey deception — and purposely… The wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.”
    Mark Twain, On the Decay of the Art of Lying 1885

  4. You were suppose to meet with a broadcaster today and deliver your Untitled Awesome Project script. Sounds like someone wasn’t… didn’t…. play straight with you. Well crap on them. Not a very honorable business you are in Joe. Keep the faith. Your fans are behind you and support you.

  5. That all sounds like a lot of work. Probably easier/better for the lazy ones to just tell the truth.

  6. The best liars in my experience are those in the movie business; not so much on the ground with actors or crew as those always seemed up front with me as a writer/producer. I’m talking about the “Above the Line” folks with the purse strings or the power to pull the strings. A couple of those guys nearly got me killed. I’ve mentioned this before. I learned the hard way that trust is a two way street and sometimes I’ve misplaced mine. As a result of often dishonest people at the top in this industry, careers, friendships and even lives are often at risk. I nearly died and was rendered homeless by trusting the wrong people making idle promises to me just to steal my work and replace me without even the courtesy of a warning. So other than politicians, I’d say some of the most powerful people in entertainment can be the most creative and cruel liars. I’m sure you have learned to always have several backup plans and never get too attached to something that you lose control of your situation. One has to be incredibly patient and resilient in the entertainment field. Actors are among the most abused in it but then again, so are writers.

  7. Damn it Mallozzi, by how many people, and how many times, have you been told; never trust anyone at that damn “Sci-fi” network?

  8. Oh, you mean like MGM when they say that ‘they are working on it’ when the fans ask for more Stargate. And yes, I know this a cheap shot. But frankly, joe, I don’t give a d**n.

  9. I’m reminded of a comment by Mark Twain that went along the lines of ” Don’t argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. ” Perhaps i’m getting old or my patience is just thin but I just don’t have the time for lies. I’m also just too lazy to lie to someone else, what few brain cells I have left can barely keep together the story that actually happened let alone creating a new one and trying to recall what I said later 😀 Trust me I’m lying 😀

  10. Bad or worst liars … I have more than enough encounters.
    I have yet to meet a truly great fantastic liar though. But perhaps I already did, and they were too great for me to realize so … Hmm …

    Having a bad day it seems?
    Go get more Hattendo power! Liars be gone! Good days are coming! XD

  11. Someone from LA-LA Land pissed you off. Sorry to hear that. But this was definitely a masterful piece on the art of lying. And for that, I thank you!

  12. I’m so bad at lying. Which is not a problem actually. It forces me to make choices and my life is very clear and easy that way. I like it, no effort to make to cover things, no mental load.
    On the other hand, though, I’m very bad at detecting them and understanding I’ve been bullshitted. It’s annoying, sometimes detrimental (but never in life or death stake, so it’s fine). Therefore, if a lie has been spotted, IF it’s of significant importance, the very liar is immediately obliterated of my life. I don’t have time nor any empathy for that shit.

  13. How do you know I haven’t been lying convincingly all these years? The best liars also toss out bad lies every so often to throw people off the trail of the real lie; the long con of falsehoods. I’m not admitting to anything, but neither am I denying a single thing.

    P.S. – The incident at Frieda’s? It wasn’t the dog. I’m just that good in a pinch.

  14. So sorry to hear you had a bad day Joe. Or perhaps? it was a good day because this beautifully eloquent rant is actually an intoduction of a character for a brilliant upcoming series that just got green lit.??
    Either way, sounds like you’re due for a good hot pastrami on rye and some pistachio macarons.
    Maybe? a quick jaunt to Moms and Smoke Meat Pete. Dont forget the delicious crunchy pickle on the side! XO 🙂

  15. Wow, you had a bad day. Very true about the rant. I have a family member that is a pathological liar. He believes what he says at the time. Every Christmas, he tells me that my present is off being wrapped. My hubby thinks it’s hysterical. I just nod and roll my eyes, internally. I’ve read pathological liars have low self esteem. I believe that.

    Have you looked into the physical tells of liars? I watched a video about that and one example was that old Clinton video of him denying an affair with Monica. Very interesting stuff and obvious tells, once you know what to look for.

    Changing the subject to something more positive: How did you like John Wick 3? FYI, Target had John Wick 1 on sale for $6-7 for the blu-ray.

    I hope today is better!

  16. Additional learning resources for todays blog entry: 😀

    The Art of The Lie 2019:
    By Marcel Danesi. A scientific examination and technical manual on the art of deception and manipulation.
    https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/612353/the-art-of-the-lie-by-marcel-danesi/9781633885967/

    The Art Of Lying: A Moral guide on how to properly lie, cheat, deceive and manipulate.
    c 2017. Author Sally Fairfax (not her real name).

    An interesting PDF read by Sarah Gorham on personal experiences with poor quality lying.
    http://www.webdelsol.com/Quarterly_West/archives/iss64/Gorham.pdf

    Alan Moore: “Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie.
    But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.”

    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/153066-artists-use-lies-to-tell-the-truth-yes-i-created

  17. Oh and the really good liars can be very likable. I’ll use Bill Clinton as an example again. I know Bill’s a hound dog, a smooth liar and I would NEVER leave him alone with any young (adult) female relative. Even with all that Bill Clinton is just so damn charming. I can’t help but like him. He exudes charm. It’s like his wardrobe he wears… Call me gullible. Even the Metoo movement has left him unscathed.

  18. Joe,
    Unfortunately, it sounds as if you have had entirely too much experience and exposure to liars…or perhaps “Mega-liars”…in your professional life. Here’s hoping that you’ve gone over your quota and therefore, will be relatively liar-free from here on.

  19. I’m sure everyone tells little white lies over their lifetime. “My dog ate my homework.” “I got stuck in traffic.” When it is a seldom thing, I can overlook that. In my lifetime, I personally have known four pathological liars and one is narcissistic sociopath. Two of the four have passed away. I have distanced myself from the other two remaining in the first category. The sociopath? I have an insurance policy if I am bothered again.

  20. Hey Joe, long time no read.
    Interesting post, really. I really wonder why people even try to lie about stuff. We say lies have short legs in Germany, because they usually only get you so far. People always figure it out anyway so why bother? Also it’s kind of a weakness, no? If you can’t handle the truth, there must be a reason. Fix your problems rather than lie. I think the only lies people tell around me are protective lies. Stuff that comes out at a later point in time, but then it’s ok, because it matters less. Like you would do with a kid, where nobody gets hurt, but it might soften a blow of some kind?!
    Actually, the last time someone outright lied to me was in Canada at the Film set of Once Upon A Time, where staff were telling the fans that they were shooting at a certain place, where in reality they really weren’t just to get people to leave. I must say I found that really offensive, since everyone was behaving really well and because the fans were from all over the world. If a 16 year old flies from Europe to Canada just to see you shoot, I wouldn’t try to get them to leave like that. But what do I know.
    I find lying disrespectful, because of the reasons you stated above. It’s nice when you are in a position in life where you can drop those people like trash in a trashcan, which is exactly where I am right now. So yay!

    Have a good one Joe! Hope you don’t have to deal with this liar stuff any time soon 😉

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