I have a beloved cousin who is a natural born story-teller.
She has perfect timing. Whatever her tale is, she starts it in a serious vein, grabbing your attention with the first words out of her mouth. One is never sure where the story is heading, but you want to be along for the ride.
She nurses it along, usually enticing a giggle or two out of her listeners, who hang on every word.
At this point, one is still not quite sure if this is a funny story or a tragic one because her stories often involve family adventures that took place on the high seas in a storm or in a horse show ring where the mix of small children riding huge animals could lead to almost anything.
Still, when she tells of her husband urinating into a bottle while steering their boat through a high gale that has their boat riding the waves practically on its side, laughter has to happen-and with the guy sitting right there in your living room, you know the outcome wasn't fatal...at least to him.
With the style of a consumate actress, my cousin brings her story to an edge-of-the seat climax and, by then, the belly laughs are rolling around the room because, despite whatever potential danger was the center of her story, she just has a great delivery!
Her endings are always satisfactory, the story never too long and the timing superb.
At the end of one of her stories, her husband chided her by saying, "Patty, it didn't happen that way."
Her response to this criticism was, "Ray, if I told it the way it happened, it wouldn't be funny!"
I just love that cousin.