Sunday, March 6, 2016

If she can do it, so can we , dammit.

A long time ago, on an open mic night at a North Carolina comedy club, we watched what appeared to be the world's oldest white woman trying her hand at the craft. We weren't really paying attention as the emcee said her name.

The club owner winced and whispered in our ear, "She's real dirty, Miss Brett." (We told you it was a long time ago.) Of course, we stayed to watch.

After what seemed an eternity, she finally spoke slowly in a thick country accent.

"Ah'm sorry Ah'm late, y'all. Ah seen a sign whilst drivin' here what said, 'Cockfights'."

(Long pause)

"If Ah knowed it was chickens, Ah'd've never pulled over."

Our guffaw rose above the shocked titters in the room. Then, with great exertion, our heroine took a seat on the stool which was next to the the microphone. Her legs splayed, slightly akimbo beneath her flowered dress.

"Y'all forgive me fer settin' down. Whew. Ah jes' paid rent an' Ah'm airin' out the receipt."

We damn near hit the floor laughing. But those few wretched words, instead of endearing her to the crowd, had the antithetical effect: People were actually asking for their tabs and cueing for the door, as if her octogenarian sense of impropriety was a contagion and that, somehow, perhaps by osmosis, they could give it to their own beloved Nana.

We discovered later that we saw one of the earliest performances of Faye Woodruff, AKA Grandma From Hell. We never did see her developed act, but heard she was quite good, with less 'special effects' to represent her as less of fossilizing artifact.

In the school of Moms Mabley, even if we're not quiiiiite as advanced in years as she was playing X-rated sold out shows in Vegas, we're realizing that truth can take its teeth out and still have a hell of a bite.

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