By guest columnist Chuck Swinson
Patrick Henry High School, 12th-grade advanced English, Mr. Fitzpatrick
It was “hold your head up high night” at the Doswell Ruritan building single-purpose room Sunday night as the 10th annual Family Stunt Nite went off with almost no major incidents. The festivities kicked off with the “parade of folding chairs”, thanks to many early arrivals, and once the host signaled the conclusion of the parade, it was time to clap on the house lights and start the festivities.
Doswell MC and funnyman Louis Leher kept the crowds in stitches during the many lengthy pauses between acts with his “million-and-one-derful” impersonations and diverse armpit sounds in between complaints of stunted growth, slow wound healing and immune system failure — textbook symptoms of dietary zinc deficiency. But in between Leher’s antics audience members were treated to father-son and mother-daughter acts as rich and varied as yesterday’s Times-Dispatch.
First up was Peggy’s son, “Space Moniker 5”, the local “conceptual artist”, who displayed an artistic flair by painting a reasonable facsimile of Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” by staying within the lines wearing a smock and French-style beret while playing soothing French-style music, even though Andrew Wyeth was an American. The semi-talented lad also displayed a flair for black velvet and switched adroitly between pencils and crayons to a split-nib garden spade double-dipped in wet charcoal that he had pulverized in his own mouth.
Next up was the husband and wife team of Ridge Road residents John and Martha Colglazier, who did a “Lulu Belle and Clem” country bumpkin act that seemed to go over the heads of most of the attendees. “Lulu Belle and Clem” garnered chuckles and knowing nods by doing bumpkin-like things, like ride in the back of a truck, pick peas, sit on a porch, go to the farm bureau and go blind from drinking bad home-made whiskey before dying young of diet-related coronaries.
Following Lulu Belle and Clem was Buck Buckeye’s all-star jug band, featuring the musically-inclined Arlen family of Noel Road. Buck Buckeye, the group dad and lead performer, hooted on empty glass gallon jugs; 17-year-old son Arly dribbled away on a half-full MD 20/20 bottle, and rounding out the crew was 8-year-old Gus, who tinkled on aluminum cans. Their version of “Stardust” did not go without notice.
After a much-needed stretch and refreshment break (thanks to the Doswell Stop-n-Go for the nabs, Shasta and the 6-oz foam cups they were served in) the house lights dimmed and the show continued on. First up after the break was the identical mother-daughter team of Katherine and Maggie Jenkins, who performed in snug-fitting leotards what they claimed was the hatching scene from “The Nutcracker”. MC and funnyman Leher added some mostly unwanted “spice” to the act by messing with the recorded music, to his own amusement. But it did get the Jenkin’s off-stage faster than anticipated.
Next up was Blanton Road resident and Doswell smart guy Barry Wilkins, who did a detailed slide show on sludge management. Everyone sure knew a lot about sludge management when Barry was done.
Everyone needed a good chuckle after Wilkins’ sludge management presentation, and funnyman Leher did not disappoint, performing such knee-slapping magic tricks such as making an ice cube disappear from his mouth and sawing a board in half, interspersed with slightly off-color japes about black people and the handicapped, which were not as well-received as stunt-nite organizers may have hoped. A red-faced Leher re-appeared onstage after a talking-to by Doswell self-appointed town father Wally Grodin, who reminded the off-color entertainer that “what Doswell giveth, Doswell also taketh away”. Leher, however, lived up to his Lenten pledges with a penitent and heart-felt apology tinged with what some Doswellians perceived as more than just a hint of sarcasm.
The final entry on the bill was a relay fire-eating act, featuring the homeschool Sclemmerstein family with no permanent address, thanks to their ironic living arrangements, a renovated school bus. The five acrobatic pyrovores stationed themselves strategically around the room, lobbing incendiary missiles into each other’s expectant mouths. “They’re quite good,” noted funnyman Leher as they began their routine, momentarily distracted by the hurtling balls of flame and his fears of igniting the hot bulb left over from Wilkin’s projector. As paid guests followed the many trails of fire around the room, one of the fireballs landed directly on Leher’s frilly recently dry-cleaned collar, and the highly inflammable garment swiftly ignited his face.
“Water! We need some water!” shouted one of the Schlemmerstein kids, who looked wildly about the room like a disorientated orangutan. His eyes lit upon Hewlett Road resident Mrs. Saladiner’s almost-overflowing drool cup (the result of an auto-immune disorder in her salivary glands) and he discharged its gelatinous contents into the face of the flaming funnyman, now fully conscious to his great regret.
“Whaaaaa!?” shrieked Leher, just before lapsing into a temporary spittle-induced coma.
Fire Marshall Frank Speder, who found an oily tarpaulin in the Ruritan sprinkler room tried to signal to the fire-eaters that it was time to stop the act and let the fire-extinguishing work ensue. “Weren’t they wonderful?” he cried to those still conscious, laboriously trying to slip into the past tense and under the tarp at the same time. Unfortunately, an errant flame nugget struck him at that instant and the oily tarp went up like an oily tarp.
It was Buck Buckeye’s jug band that saved the day, as the numerous beers enjoyed by Buck before the show came in handy, extinguishing Leher before any damage was done to the funnyman’s face and neck. The only lingering effects are that Leher now has no eyebrows, so we can’t tell when he’s surprised.
All in all it was one of the better Family Stunt Nites, and we Doswell residents should be proud of ourselves. If this paper is 1,000 words it is worth 2 quiz grades. Thank you, thank you, and I hope you enjoyed my report on the Family Stunt nite. The 10th annual. How is