Friday, November 15, 2013

National Enquirer Country

Category:  Comedy Show Review

It's a hard life in country music, and anyone who doubts it needs to see the Doyle and Debbie Show.  The 90-minute revue is currently playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Zanie's Comedy Club in Nashville.

Doyle Mayfield was a big star "way back when" as part of a duet known as Doyle & Debbie.  Two Debbies (including one who was also Mrs. Doyle Mayfield) have come and gone, and now Doyle is trying the comeback trail with Debbie #3, whom Doyle discovered singing in a VFW post.  

They begin their set with "Whine, Whine, Twang, Twang."  After the song, about four or five words into his introduction of his singing partner it became blatantly obvious that Doyle is a jerk.  He introduced his third Debbie with such a misogynistic, condescending tone that the audience was tempted to throw something at him -- except they were laughing too hard.  

The relationship between Doyle and Debbie was one made in country music hell.  Doyle sat "backstage" (an area to the left of the stage) reading National Enquirer while Debbie sang a solo.  Debbie returned the favor when it was Doyle's turn to solo.  The glares the duo gave each other brought to mind the title of the Rodney Crowell song, "If Looks Could Kill."

Doyle had been on the wagon for a few weeks, but during the intermission he resorted to drinking while Debbie tended to her three children who were "out in the car" after hearing them arguing over a walkie-talkie she used to keep tabs on the youngsters.  Once they began the second set Doyle was more than a little tipsy, staggering onstage to the shock of his band leader Buddy.  The booze and the mention of his recently-deceased dad's favorite song "Snowbanks of Life" (as in "I peed your name in the....") changed Doyle, and he performed the morbid "Daddy's Hair," complete with a box containing the scalp of his dead dad (which caused Debbie to make good on her threat to leave).  The hair seemed to possess Doyle as it bled on his shirt, but Buddy saved the day by shooting the hair.  Debbie was eventually coaxed back to finish the set.

The comedy is side-splitting, provided by Bruce Arntson as Doyle, Jenny Littleton as Debbie and Matthew Carlton as Buddy.  Arnston created this farce and wrote all the music (except for "Whine Whine, Twang Twang," which he co-wrote with Pam Tillis).  These two are not only sharp in their delivery of the comedy (including the physical humor), they are both excellent singers.  The songs lampoon stereotypes in a way that hasn't been seen in country music since "The B-Side of Love" on National Lampoon's Goodbye Pop album.  "When You're Screwing Other Women (Think of Me)" summarizes cheating songs in the title -- and makes it far more comically obvious than others dare.  The medley of Doyle & Debbie hits concludes with "God Loves America Best," which takes dead aim at smarmy patriotism in a number of songs.  The closer, "Fat Women in Trailers," is a musical highlight, as is Debbie's "ABC's of Love," an ode to Patsy Cline-style ballads as well as nearly every commonly-utilized abbreviation today (you will LOL at this).

If you've never seen the Doyle and Debbie Show you need to put it on your "to-do" list.

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