Thursday, September 23, 2010

Small Town, Big Laughs

Did I tell you we saw Michael Perry last month?

(Of course I didn't. I wasn't writing much on here last month.)

We saw Michael Perry last month.

Jessica's a big fan, and has read all of his books, and taught a couple of them in her English classes. I've read parts of one she loaned to me months ago...enough to recognize he's a great storyteller with a diverse background and a killer vocabulary.

If you read his books, you will laugh.
If you see him in person, you will laugh even harder.

In his writing, as well as in person, he always has the right word. His stories are tight, descriptive, heart-warming, and funny as hell.

He spoke at Stage North in Washburn, Wisconsin, and we bought tickets online the day of the show, a spur-of-the-moment decision during our late-summer getaway to Bayfield and the shores of Lake Superior.

We planned our day's activities and the drive down to Washburn with time to spare, hoping to secure a third- or fourth-row seat and optimal vantage point.

Turns out Stage North holds only about 130 people, so while we did, in fact, get our third-row seating, there were only eight rows total. How we found tickets the day of the event is still a mystery to me, after the night we were treated to.

Perry walked on stage in a T-shirt, jeans, and work boots, with a few pages of leader notes taped to the floor at his feet from which to jog his memory, and told stories for an hour before taking a break, and then came back 15 minutes later for another 45. Nearly two hours of "The Clodhopper Monologues," as they were titled, described as "country standup."

He talked about life on a farm in a very small Wisconsin town (and whether the word is pronounced "manoo-er" or "ma-nerr"), his job as a volunteer firefighter and registered nurse, his writing process and ties to New York City, involving agents, editors and publishers.

Aside from his three books, he's written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire,, Men's Health and others. While he may have some big-time connections, he remains genuinely and sincerely small-town.

But always, always...big-time funny.

I'm reading "Population: 485" right now. Give it a read. And if you find one of his speaking engagements within 100 miles...


"And for the love of Pete, don't moo at the cows.
This is the habit of outsiders."
—Michael Perry

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