Friday, October 30, 2009
Elna Baker's Fortune Cookie Costume
Good morning, brothers and sisters. My talk today is on Mormon Comedy.
But I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, have you ever noticed somebody whose head is like a gumball machine? How every petty, insignificant thought he ever has drops down from his brain and onto his tongue where it then rolls out of his mouth and onto the floor where it gets lost under the furniture because he drops them so often that nobody pays any attention?
I see this with a lot with bloggers. They feel that they have an audience out there somewhere that they are obligated to "share" every little thought with, so they write something every day, whether anybody is interested or not.
Well, that’s not my scene, Daddy-O. I may think I have something to say, but I don’t kid myself into believing for one moment that any of you are out there breathlessly waiting for my next entry.
But now I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. I do like it when people read my stuff. But If I post something only once in a great while, you, dear reader, may lose the habit of checking back here to see if there’s anything new.
You might then miss my upcoming story about the amazing lost conference talk that was suppressed for the past 25 years but has now surfaced on YouTube. Or you may not learn about the book I discovered which has finally convinced me to let go of my plans to take on a second wife.
So I figure if I post an entry here twice a month, that should be just about right. Not too often, and not so infrequently that you’ll forget about me.
What absolutely astonishes me, folks, is that apparently I do have an actual readership, as evidenced by the fact that to date, nearly one thousand three hundred people have stopped by to read my recent opinion on whether it’s appropriate or not to blindly follow the prophet (My opinion: it’s not).
But who’s counting? (Well, I am actually, via that device at the bottom of the page.)
What astonishes me about that number is that hardly anybody I know personally admits to reading my blog. Not family, not friends, and certainly not anybody in my ward.
So I don’t know who you people are or where you came from, but really, thanks for stopping by.
Which brings me to tonight’s post.
I would love to share with you the meatier topics I had in mind, but like you, I’d rather spend my time at the computer reading what somebody else has written than write something myself, because the computer should be used for learning, not for doing homework.
But it’s getting near the end of the month, and I’m in danger of missing my self-imposed quota. (It’s already too late to finish my home teaching this month. Oh, well.)
Anyway, instead of giving you something I created myself, I’ve decided to share something my new friend Elder OldDog brought to my attention, and it's appropriate for the end of October, this being Halloween and all. It’s a video of a cute young Mormon gal, Elna Baker, holding forth before an audience of New Yorkers. And it’s hilarious.
I’ve always had a thing for Mormon stand-up comedy, because I can boast having started the very first comedy venue in Utah Valley way back around 1979.
The big stand-up comedy craze of the 80's was about to explode nationally, and the owner of the Villa Theater in Springville approached me with the idea that we could turn the place into a comedy club on the weekends, with Yours Truly as the host.
We held auditions, and soon we had a troop of very funny amateur comics drawing really good crowds. There was the Hawaiian funny man Eric KePo’o, who evoked a mormonized (and cleaner) version of Richard Pryor; the hilariously cynical Mike Agrelius, author of the bestselling parody "Especially For Anyone"; and a whole passel of comics whose names I can no longer recall, including one who had a knack for dead-on impersonations of the general authorities of the church.
I remember one pecksniff who walked out of the theater in a huff one night while this guy was doing his imitation of Spencer W. Kimball. She felt he was blaspheming the prophet. What she didn’t know was that this same comic had been asked to provide the entertainment at a social function attended by the apostles and their wives, where he had these very same men rolling in the aisles with his impressions of them. His biggest hit was his version of Bruce R. McConkie as a pompous blowhard, which everyone present (except Bruce R) admitted was spot on.
Alas, the problem with performing local stand-up every weekend was the challenge of coming up with new material, and by the second season we were all pretty much repeating ourselves.
So by 1981 my career as a stand-up comic was over. But that spirit lives on in my new favorite Mormon comedienne, Elna Baker. You can watch her perform by CLICKING HERE.
And be sure and check back sometime in November to find out why I'm abandoning polygamy.