Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Visit To Tuna, Texas

I've said this before--living in Texas is a little like visiting a foreign country. The people are wonderfully open, friendly and generous. They are also . . . just a little bit different.

A marvelous pair of comedians capitalized on that difference back in the fall of 1981 when they--together with a friend--debuted the play Greater Tuna in Austin, Texas.

For anyone who has not been lucky enough to see Tuna, it's the story of the third smallest town in Texas "where the Lion's Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies." All of the more than twenty inhabitants of Greater Tuna--including the men, women, children and animals--are performed by Joe Sears and Jaston Williams.

The play was a smash hit and led to two more plays--A Tuna Christmas and Red, White and Tuna--in what is now called the Tuna Trilogy. Wikipedia describes the trilogy this way: "The plays are at once an affectionate comment on small-town, Southern life and attitudes but also a withering satire of same. Of the three plays, Greater Tuna is the darkest in tone."

When I first moved to Texas, I was in cultural shock for years. Today I no longer blink when, upon being introduced, someone asks me "Is Jesus your savior?" And I know "How about them Cowboys?" is the all-purpose Texas icebreaker in social situations. Greater Tuna helped me put everything into perspective, recognizing the good, the ugly and the downright weird.

I've seen all three plays multiples times, but my favorite remains Greater Tuna. A friend recently gave me the video set collection of the trilogy.

There are multiple clips of Greater Tuna on YouTube. I've picked two. "The Judge's Funeral" stars Pearl Burras and Vera Carp, two of Tuna's prominent citizens. Pearl has unfinished business with Judge Roscoe Buckner, who recently died. The Judge, "who hung more people in the thirties than any other active judge," apparently had a stroke. He was found dead in his house in a Dale Evans swim suit.

"The Smut-Snatchers' Squad" features Vera Carp leading a meeting in the Kowita Baptist Church where "even Catholics" are welcomed.



Colleen said...

"Is Jesus your savior?"

Blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink.

I've developed a tic.

David Roth said...

I think I know these women!

Maya Reynolds said...

Colleen: I had the same reaction the first dozen times someone asked me. Now I don't blink. I say firmly, "I'm Catholic." That usually ends the questioning.

Maya Reynolds said...

David: [grin] If you liked those excerpts, I'll send you another off line. Dee Dee Snavely, who runs the gun shop in Tuna and says, "If I can't sell you a gun to kill it, it's immortal," is worth a few minutes of your time.

The Anti-Wife said...

These are hysterical. Thanks for sharing.

Maya Reynolds said...

AW: You're welcome. I love this play.