Actor Bill Oberst, Jr. has stepped into the late Lewis Grizzard’s shoes over 1,000 times in the last decade. Oberst’s portrayal of the Southern writer and humorist is a one-man show authorized by Grizzard’s family, which says it is the closest thing to seeing the late great spokesman of the south onstage again since Grizzard’s death at age 47. Lewis Grizzard: in His Own Words will be presented this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Strand Theater on the Square in Marietta. The show is presented in two acts and runs 90 minutes.
The two-act performance features Grizzard’s best-loved stories and jokes, along with some poignant and funny readings from his books and newspaper columns. Lewis Grizzard was the most widely syndicated columnist in America for 15 years until his death at age 47, appearing in 450 daily newspapers. He famously refused to use a computer and wrote on a manual typewriter, saying, “I like to by-God hear some noise when I type.” Grizzard wrote early each morning at his Atlanta breakfast table, agonizing over each word and going through countless drafts and cigarettes before calling his secretary at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to dictate the finished result. He once turned in an entire manuscript to Random House with no ‘e’s in it because his ancient Royal typewriter’s ‘e’ key had snapped off. Gizzard told the publisher, “Wherever you see a blank space, just put an ‘e’ in there.”
The historic Earl Smith Strand Theatre is a multi-use performing arts and events facility. The theatre is governed by the Friends of The Strand, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and depends on the financial support of private and corporate donors. It is The Strand’s mission to serve the community with cultural entertainment for a diverse audience and to promote economic health in the City of Marietta and Cobb County. For more information or tickets, visit www.EarlSmithStrand.org or the Box Office at 770-293-0080 or 117 North Park Square, Marietta, 30060. The Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and two hours before the show.
From the Editor: We have been given permission to publish a few of Lewis Grizzards columns that represent his body of newspaper column work. Enjoy.
“Bubba Bashers” Use Stereotype That Doesn’t Fit (June 1992) by Lewis Grizzard
For years, I have attempted to enlighten those individuals who hold biased and ill-based opinions about the name “Bubba.” Most think men named Bubba are nothing more than ignorant swine who wear caps with the names of heavy equipment dealers on the front, shoot anything that moves, listen to music about doing bodily harm to hippies and put beer on their grits.
There may be Bubbas who fit the above description, but there are plenty who don’t.
I once wrote of a man college-educated, with no tobacco juice stains on his teeth, whose family had always referred to him as Bubba. “I got that name,” he explained, “because my baby sister couldn’t say brother. She called me Bubba.”
The man’s problem was that he had taken a job with some sort of high-tech corporation, and his boss insisted he drop the name “Bubba” because he thought clients wouldn’t respect a man with such a name. Our Bubba refused to use any other name, however, and became quite successful with his new company and wound up with his former boss’s job. The former boss now refers to his old employee as “Mr. Bubba.”
Anyway, I happened to pick up a back issue of Southern magazine recently, and on the very front cover were the following words: “Bubba! You don’t have to be dumb, mean, fat, slow, white or male to be one!” I turned to page 37 and began to read: “Of all the Southern stereotypes,” the story began, “the one that answers to ‘Bubba’ is probably the least flattering.” The article went on to do portraits of eight Bubbas. Do any of the following fit the typical “Bubba stereotype”?
Keith “Bubba” Taniguche: lawyer, Austin, Texas. Full-blooded Japanese. Into Zen.
John “Bubba” Trotman: state director of the U.S.D.A in Alabama. On people moving into his state, he says: “At first, they say, ‘Alabama, that’s Tobacco Road.’ Then you can’t blow them out of here with a cannon!”
James “Bubba” Armstrong: surgeon, Tampa, Florida. Careful poking fun at anybody who knows his way around a scalpel.
Paul “Bubba” Meiner: owns a barbecue joint in Winter Park, Florida. Nice Lady.
Bernard “Bubba” Meng: state administrator for U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings. Columbia, South Carolina. He’s “Little Bubba.” Dad was “Big, etc.”
Kyle “Bubba” Patrick: elementary school student, Auburntown, Tennessee. He wants to be a basketball player when he grows up.
One more thing: The University of Georgia veterinary school produced the state’s first test-tube calf, a Holstein bull, weighing 100 pounds. They named him Bubba. What else?