Last Friday night, the self-proclaimed White Trash comedienne Etta May made her triumphal return to Clayton Center Auditorium & Conference Center, where her scripted solo show, Dr. Etta (Family Specialist), rivaled the best moments of her show-stopping stand-up routine delivered as one of the three distaff down-home comedy divas known as the Southern Fried Chicks.
To conduct this knee-slapping two-act “seminar” on marriage and family life, billed as “Common Sense for the Common Man,” Bald Knob, Arkansas native Etta May added a white lab coat to her trademark head scarf and K-mart-casual wardrobe of blouse and slacks in colors and fabrics not found in nature. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Etta May unleashed an acerbic commentary on men and women and their frequently demonic offspring (especially daughters who step on their mother’s last nerve just about every day). She had The Clayton Center crowd rolling in the aisles.
Some choice samples of the Gospel According to Etta May include:
• “The root ‘tions’ of marriage are ‘Aggravation,’ ‘Revelation,’ and ‘Humiliation.’”
• “My [snoring] husband isn’t sawing logs; he’s making me a cabin.”
• “My husband can hear a long-necked beer being opened at 100 yards but, dang, he goes all Helen Keller on me if the phone rings or the baby cries [in the middle of the night].”
• “A man can take a simple lasagna dinner and turn it into nuclear waste. I don’t have any nose hairs left. I haven’t had to shave my legs in the last 10 years.”
• The “tions” of children are “Intoxication,” followed by “Impregnation,” and then a long and never-ending period of “Broke-ation.”
• “It takes $60,000 to go to college and learn how to bounce a quarter into a glass of beer.”
• “You know you’ve got a mean kid if you’ve ever had to use the phrase, ‘Cut your brother down!’”
• “God forbid you take a 12-pack of Bud to a PTA meeting.... [For the school bake sale], I made brownies — Happy Brownies — and raised $3.5 million. They renamed the school after me: Etta May High.”
• “Raising boys is easy. Just give them a box of matches, and they’re happy. Then give them a Playboy, and you won’t hear another word out of them until they’re 25.”
• The “tions” of mother-daughter relationships are “Confrontation,” “Manipulation,” and “Devastation.”
• When Etta May asks her daughter, “Are you sexually active?” She replies, “No, ewwww, I just kind of lie there.”
• “It turns out that my daughter thinks playing hard to get is wearing a three-hook bra.”
• “‘Family vacation’ is an oxymoron. When you get back, you’re hardly a family, and it’s not a vacation.”
But Etta May leavened the evening’s hilarity with a bittersweet second-act segment about being stood up on prom night. She wore a “Pepto-Bismol-pink polyester dress,” she quips. “... I looked like a princess with foliage.” As for the rascal who stood her up, Etta May allowed that he got his comeuppance the very next day when her highly unamused brothers caught up with him and used him for a punching bag. Dr. Etta (Family Specialist) is a knockout!