WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (3/7/13) - Today there is a sad lack of family oriented entertainment out there. Even the children’s movies seem to be getting to where they are rated PG-13. It’s hard for parents to find something to do with their kids that doesn’t have bad language or violence in it, unless you want to spend all of your time sitting in front of cartoons. Even some of them aren’t family friendly these days!
A few months back, while visiting Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, I was lucky enough to be able to visit a live show that was family friendly, entertaining and wonderfully funny. Shanda and I had been there for the Christmas show a few years back but this was the first time my daughter and I had been to the regular performance.
In fact, it was the first time we had taken my two year old to any kind of performance or show. Shanda and I were both concerned that Aleigha might not sit through something like that, but we decided to try it. We were not disappointed.
The Comedy Barn K-9s led the show, and seeing as how Aleigha loves animals, they managed to hook her right from the start. At intermission they even brought the dogs down front and let the kids come up and pet them.
“Everybody loves dogs,” said Danny Devaney, marketing director for the Comedy Barn. “All of the dogs in the show were rescued from shelters. Dawn Goehring rescues them and trains them to be part of the show.”
Devaney said the Comedy Barn is also proud to be involved in several local charities that raised money and awareness for the humane society and other animal charities.
I must personally thank Mrs. Goehring, because when Aleigha was down by the stage, petting the dogs, a boy of about eleven or twelve pushed in front of her. She told the young man he needed to wait his turn and let Aleigha finish.
Besides the K-9s, the Comedy Barn has a whole cast of entertainers, ranging from singers to ventriloquists and everything in between. Among them is veteran stage comedian Bob Nelson.
“Bob was Rodney Dangerfield’s opening act for eight years,” Devaney said. “All of us who grew up in the 80’s were big fans of his. To be working with his is something special.”
Nelson appeared on two of Dengerfield’s HBO standup comedy showcases, alongside other comedy stars like Rosanne Barr and Sam Kineson. He also had two HBO specials of his own, including the ground breaking classic Nelson Schmelson.
And let us not forget marketing director Danny Devaney himself. He isn’t just some board room paper pusher, he is also a performer. One of Aleigha’s favorites.
From shoving four or five ping-pong balls into his mouth to balancing on a board balanced on top of a pole, Devaney showed himself to be a true comedy performer. It was during the latter performance that Aleigha told us “I’m worried about that man.”
“The Comedy Barn has a lot of audience participation,” Devaney said. In fact, I believe every time he was on stage he called an audience member up to help. “People are funny. You never know how an audience member is going to react. You never know what they are going to say or do. You can see two shows in the same night and it be two totally different shows.”
The Comedy Barn has been in operation for about 18 years. David Fee and Jim Hedrick, two veteran cruise ship performers settled in Pigeon Forge and founded the theater, aiming to focus on clean family fun.
“We all perform clean,” Devaney said. “I don’t know of any other comedy club around that focuses only on family friendly comedy.”
Even audience members who were called up on stage couldn’t help but laugh. At the Comedy Barn they are a participant in the joke, not the butt of the joke.
Someone once told me that when you visit a place you’re not familiar with, always ask the locals for the best place to go out to eat, to shop and to spend the night. If you can say the same for locals in Pigeon Forge, the Comedy Barn is the place to go for comedy.
“On any given night 70% of the audience has been there before,” Devaney said, and a lot of them are locals.
So, if you’re looking for something to do on vacation this year, my recommendation would be visit the Comedy Barn in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. You won’t be disappointed.
J-E News Editor
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