September 22, 2015

Lewis Grizzard enjoyed pushing buttons, poking fun

     Football Saturdays haven’t been the same since 1993, the year before Lewis Grizzard died.  We
People either loved or loathed the late Lewis Grizzard’s 
brand of commentary.  The Southern-fried humorist, author 
and nationally-syndicated columnist had a gift to make 
people laugh, cry or even cuss. And, yes, you would 
have heard Lewis’ million-dollar voice barking 
when the Bulldogs whipped Steve Spurrier’s 
Gamecocks, 52-20, on Sept. 19.
shared more than our time at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism.  Our tailgate stations were a few yards apart—on Field Street—just south of the bridge at the west end of Sanford Stadium.
     I could close my eyes and walk to where he would be holding court in the shade.  All I had to do was follow his voice—that rich, deep voice that he claimed he got from his daddy.  It was a million-dollar voice that entertained millions, poking fun at a variety of subjects, including himself.
     On that last autumn afternoon, I found Lewis sitting in a lawn chair.  I thought: “Gee, my friend looks like death warmed over.”  His gaunt face had a yellowish tint.  He looked up and said, “Dink, if I had known I was going to live this @&%# long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
     By March of the next year, the nationally-syndicated columnist and humorist was dead at age 48.  I was sad but not surprised.  Lewis, as they say, was “rode hard and put up wet” over and over.  What a shame.  Whether you loved or loathed his wit, Lewis had a gift.  He was as Southern as one of his daddy’s “Snellville Milkshakes,” cornbread crumbled in a glass of buttermilk.
      Lewis rankled the Speech Police.  He refused to tiptoe with his words to suit the self-anointed speech censors.  Lewis reveled in punching buttons to see how people would react.  His satire wasn’t mean-spirited.  But the louder the offended yelped, the more he liked it.
     Sunday afternoon, I was rocking on the screen porch and wondering: “How much fun would Lewis have today with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?”  And that inspired me to reread every word of Wit and Wisdom of Lewis Grizzard. Check out these zingers:
     “I’m not against women’s liberation … I’ve given three freedom myself.”
     “If doctors make so much money, why can’t they afford new magazines for their waiting rooms?”
      “I don’t care if Michael Jackson turns out to be a boy or a girl.  I just think he ought to be one or the other.”
     “My ex-wives had one thing in common: When they left, they all backed up a truck.”
     “If I ran my affairs like the government, I’d be like a homeless snake—I wouldn’t have a pit to hiss in.”

     “One TV commercial proclaims, ‘These feminine napkins are disposable.’  Why on earth would anyone want to keep one?”
     “Any woman who doesn’t know how World War II turned out is too young to date.”
     “I wish Queen Elizabeth would give Cisco Kid his hat back.”
     “Beauty may be only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.”
     “Bucket seats have done more to separate the sexes than the Southern Baptist Convention.”
     “Putting grits on ant beds is an old remedy for getting rid of them … serving unbuttered, unsalted instant grits has the same effect on Yankees.”
     “I came from large family.  In fact, I never slept alone until I was married.”
     Lewis really needled evangelists. He said that God watched the Rev. Billy Graham, but he taped Jimmy Swaggart.  And that leads to this:
     “Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Falwell were on a flight together.  The stewardess asked Swaggart if he would like a drink, and he ordered Scotch.  Then she turned to Falwell.  In a firm voice, he said, ‘I’d rather commit adultery than partake of .alcohol.’ Swaggart said, ‘Me, too, but I didn’t know we had a choice!’”