The November 21, 1957 issue of The Bossier Banner Press heralded the appearance of Smiley Burnette at Fox Theatre in Plain Dealing.
“Smiley Burnette, America’s No. One cowboy comic, appearing at Fox Theatre in Plain Dealing, holds the record for number of personal appearances made, and recently a noted newspaper writer asked Smiley what his impression of audiences was after looking into hundreds of thousands of faces and watching them break into laughter.”
“Smiley had this to say ‘I would like to write a book on it. Believe me, it’s fun. I have faced audiences that looked like a window full of fish and dared me to make them laugh. I took the dare and although a few have whipped me I have usually managed to win them over.’”
“’I can do six different complete acts and quite often have to work in a park where the people come and stay all day and don’t care to listen to the same thing again.’”
“’I do a special show just for kids where all the jokes are aimed to keep them roaring. Then for the adult shows I sharpen up and keep going until I get kneeslappers down the line. I counted once and in twenty-five minutes the folks had 127 good hearty laughs. I really enjoy folks having a good time so much that even though I have told the same jokes over and over, I laugh because they do. Sometimes people get the impression that I have come to town to entertain just the kids. Believe me, I would rather entertain adults any time. Kids are not an easy audience. Ask any entertainer.’”
“’I have a few gags I call my I. Q. gags. When I first face an audience I test them out to see what type of gag makes them laugh. Then I take off on that track.’”
“’I have a little trick I use to get attention too. If the kids are noisy, I lower my voice to a very confidential tone, and then the ones who are making the noise stand so the others can’t hear what they believe to be something they should not miss. The offenders, finding themselves stared at by the other people, quiet down immediately. I always use the other children for policemen.’”
“’Another thing, if a gag is corny, I know it as well as you do…Experience tells me more of you laugh if it doesn’t take too long to get it and be ready for the next one.’”
No mention was made in the subsequent issue of The Bossier Banner Progress regarding the attendance at Burnette’s appearance.
Smiley Burnette was, among many other things, a sidekick, a songwriter, an actor (movies and television) and a restaurateur. He died of leukemia in 1967.
To discover more about entertainment in Bossier Parish through the years, please visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.
Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at email@example.com