It was a lovely October day in Jonesborough, Tennessee, several years ago when my Timpanogos Storytelling friends and I attended the National Storytelling Festival. We wandered into a tent where Andy Offutt Irwin was making his debut on the national storytelling scene. There he stood—a tallish, youngish, lanky fellow with straw-colored hair spinning stories about the crazy antics of his elderly, southern Aunt Marguerite, who also just happened to be a doctor. We were charmed as we sat through story after story, one more impossibly funny than the next. We watched as crowds followed him from one performance tent to another throughout the festival. He made a big hit with the Jonesborough storytelling audiences who had come to appreciate and understand good storytelling through the years. And Andy, we concurred, would be a big hit with the well-seasoned storytelling audiences of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. So we invited him to be one of our feature tellers at the next Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. That year a new favorite teller was born at Timpanogos!
Andy evokes a sort of Robin Williams’ flair for the spontaneous and outrageous, taking a seemingly simple story to a most unexpected outcome. He surprised all of us in one of his storytelling sets by bringing a group of children on stage and working them into his act by using his remarkable whistling ability while bonking them on the head with a toy mallet. Surprises? Andy is full of them!