Review: Oberst Captures Grizzard’s Wit, Charm
Bill Oberst, Jr. gives an uncanny impression of Lewis Grizzard, the Georgia journalist, author and concert artist in “Lewis Grizzard: A Tribute”, now playing as part of the Piccolo Spoleto theater series.
Grizzard’s widow, Dedra, and his manager Steve Enoch have assembled the show from Grizzard’s own writings. Act One comes from his concert appearances; Act Two from his newspaper column and books. Like most good journalists, Grizzard’s humor was based on very clear observations of his immediate surroundings, Georgia and the South, and his own condition, which included four wives and several drawn-out and painful operations for a congenital heart condition.
Although Grizzard died in 1994, his humor is still immediate, and the audience roared as Oberst/Grizzard explained the Southerner’s obsession with sports, particularly football…Grizzard was able to see the excesses of the region he loved, and his “Rules for Deer Hunting” is a comic plea for some sane limits to the Southerner’s love for his rifle.
Grizzard’s general defense of his home region could be comic, as in a column dealing with the responses to his personal ad for a date as a SSWM (Straight Southern White Male). Or, he could respond to critics of the South with unashamed pathos, as in his eulogy to his granddaddy in the form of a ‘Definition of a Redneck.”
During his life, Grizzard was able to transform his writing into good standup comedy, and Bill Oberst works his audience masterfully, punching home the countless one-liners, and carefully building the longer anecdotes for maximum involvement in the punchline. Dressed in blazer and Grizzard’s own Gucci shoes, Oberst moves haltingly about the stage, the very embodiment of Grizzard; of a man who refuses to give in to the demands of his body.
“Lewis Grizzard: A Tribute” is fast-paced and very funny, a theatrical reminder of how much he is missed by his legions of fans and readers…
June 10, 2000 - page 10-A
Letters to the Editor
To The Editor: Oberst Wonderful
On behalf of all who had the privilege to attend “Lewis Grizzard: A Tribute” at Physician’s Auditorium, I would like to commend Bill Oberst, Jr. for the wonderful portrayal of Lewis Grizzard. The performance was a combination of funny stories and touching tributes to those Mr. Grizzard loved. I, and the audience in general, was laughing or crying the entire evening, as Mr. Oberst looked into our eyes and touched our hearts with Mr. Grizzard’s down-home Southern stories.
Thank you for a most enjoyable evening.
Isle of Palms, SC