Jerry Clower: A superb Southern storyteller
August 7, 2008 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Jerry Clower (Wikipedia article) started telling his funny stories to boost sales when he was a seed and fertilizer salesman. He went on to become a successful comedian and Grand Ole Opry star.

Here are some of his stories (all YouTube links):
A Coon Hunting Story
On the Jerry Reed Show (check out Jerry's collar!)
The Burning Building
A New Bull
Fishing with the Game Warden
Examples of a Redneck (Shame on you Jeff Foxworthy!)
Bird Huntin' At Uncle Versies
Wanna Buy a Possum? (with bizarrely unrelated video)
posted by Daddy-O (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Foxworthy is to Clower what feces are to apple pie.
posted by dawson at 9:43 AM on August 7, 2008

Heh. Thanks, Daddy-O!
posted by BeerFilter at 9:51 AM on August 7, 2008

I remember watching Jerry Clower as a child in Jacksonville, Florida and thinking "I have to get the fuck out of this church, out of this town, and out of this country before I turn into one of these humorless, racist, bible-thumping shitheels".

I nearly made it out in time.
posted by Optamystic at 10:01 AM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]

Clower is indeed funny. Even though I try to remove myself from my southern heritage he makes me laugh. Some of his stories may be short on punchlines, but whenever I hear him on XM, I find him really easy to listen to. I guess he reminds me of many of my relatives from the south, and is self-aware enough to know how he sounds to non-southerners.

Thanks for the post! I look forward to viewing the videos when I get home.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2008

His wife's name: Homerline. That's a name you don't see every day.
posted by pracowity at 10:09 AM on August 7, 2008

Regional humor is an odd thing. I listened to a couple of Clower's pieces and I found them annoying. The regional humor of my home state of Maine is pretty similar-- rural people are crafty except the few of them who are dumb, but they are still smarter than urban people and law enforcement. But it always seems really formulaic. The only difference between Maine humor and Southern, besides the regionalism, is the narrative style-- Maine humor should be as dry as possible.

But I don't think it's that hard to do these if you know anything about the culture. I'm going to write a Maine storyteller-style anecdote right now off the top of my head:


Virgil Pinkham was the duhrtiest man in Androscoggin County. One day, Duane and I decided it was right about time he had a bath because he weren't smellin' so cunnin' when he came into town last week. It was mud season and Virgil lived on the Dump Road, which ain't paved and gets wettah than a frenchman's unduhpants in the spring. So we got in Duane's '89 AMC Eagle, because we figuhed we'd need the fowah wheel drive, and headed out ta Virgil's.

"What's that smell, ya fig-yah?" I asked Duane as we slipped through the ruts on the Dump Road. A wicked awful oduh was stahtin' to come into the cah.

"Can't say rightly," said Duane. He was concentatin' on the road.

"I do believe it's Virgil," I said.

"Cahn't be. We're too fah away even fuh him," replied Duane.

Well, we finally pulled up to Virgil's trailuh, and it turned out I was right. Virgil had died about a week ago after a night of drinkin' Allen's and takin' oxy's, and we were the fuhst ones to check on him. Smelled somethin' wicked, he did!
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:55 AM on August 7, 2008 [5 favorites]

Jeezum Crow, Mayor Curley, postrolies taint required, ayuh?
posted by Mblue at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2008

Like much American humor, Clower’s jokes are heavily based on the “pull-back-and-reveal” gag. I like him, though, perhaps because I’m a Southern native, and listened to his tapes interminably while riding in my grandfather’s truck.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 12:12 PM on August 7, 2008

I attended (briefly) Jerry's Alma Mater, Mississippi State. The one highlight of my otherwise miserable time there was seeing Mr. Clower across a parking lot before a football game and yelling, "Hey, Jerry, how 'bout them dawgs?" to which he responded with one of his trademark yells (and this typing does not do it justice) "Haaaawww!! Woof, woof, woof woof!" At this time the man was at least 70, and still managed to drown out an entire parking lot full of rowdy State fans, who then cheered uproariously in his honor. The hairs on the back of my neck still sand up when I remember that.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:55 PM on August 7, 2008

I find it excruciatingly painful to watch Jerry Clower, but I can still appreciate his gifts. I've seen some truckers and rednecks keel over from him just reciting the names of the Ledbetter clan. I have no idea why.

I know he was a giant Mizzou fan -- and we'd catch sight of him in the bleachers at the stadium whenever Nebraska played'em beat'em. He always seems upbeat and positive; kinda hard to dislike someone like that.

Anyway ... the one exception is "The Burning Building". That one put me on the floor first time I heard it.
posted by RavinDave at 2:19 PM on August 7, 2008

I fancy myself an enthusiast of comedy. It's a kinda hobby of mine. I study stand up comedians, read satires, view slapstick, and review sketches and try to pick apart what makes humor tick, and which comedians are better than others. I have in the past made lists of comics and humor writers which I find of high quality or consistently deliver.

Twain. Rogers. Burns. Benny. Carlin. Bruce. Ball. Pryor. Williams. Martin. Lewis. Simon. Allen (Steve & Woody). Goldberg. Newhart. Poundstone. Crystal. Goldthwait. Winters. Diller. Smothers. Hedburg. Anderson. Degeneres. Marx. Sellers. Belushi. Wright. Ivins. Even Foxworthy. The list seems endless.

I rarely include Clower any further in my studies than I already have. I have to draw the line somewhere.

He is crude, loud, boisterous, and about as amusing as an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos played backwards at high volume. Actually, come to think of it, AFV backwards would probably be a more pleasing experience. I understand that my exploration of comedy is deficient for my avoidance of such towering symbols of majesty as Clower. I will somehow weather that storm.

It should be noted that in the recent film "The Aristocrats," Jerry Clower was not to be found. I took that as a blessing.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:44 PM on August 7, 2008

er ... would he be, since he died in 1998?
posted by RavinDave at 3:50 PM on August 7, 2008

I take that as a blessing too.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:16 PM on August 7, 2008

pracowity: "His wife's name: Homerline. That's a name you don't see every day."

I'll go out on a limb and assume that "-line" is either a regional or corrupt version of the common feminine "-lene" suffix, which (at least) makes it a wee bit more understandable.
posted by RavinDave at 4:24 PM on August 7, 2008

When I was growing up in Mississippi, my grandmother couldn't take a car ride through Yazoo City without reminding us that this was where ol' Jerry Clower, the "Mouth of the South," was from. She listened to those tapes so much that I can feel fondness and nostalgia without clicking on any of the links. Minnie Pearl was another big hit with her -- Minnie even read one of my Mimi's jokes on the air. She also enjoyed Lewis Grizzard books, which, bizarrely, I absolutely loved as a nine-year-old. He was an unfunny, misogynist old kids-these-days kudzu-chewer, but for some reason I dog-eared his books.

I still love rural humor, if it's the kind with the sharp bite. Cf. Pissing in the Snow. Roy Blount Jr.'s Book of Southern Humor is an excellent guide, and its tenor can be deduced from the fact that it includes Florence King, as well as Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find."
posted by Countess Elena at 6:36 PM on August 7, 2008

Growing up in rural Missouri, I was mostly ashamed of my "Hillbilly" heritage and shows like "Hee Haw" I found embarassing. I did once have lunch with Mr. Clower and he was very entertaining.
posted by DaddyNewt at 7:38 AM on August 8, 2008

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