There was so much material this year that the annual Front Page Follies show was bound to be funny! Held Saturday at the Knoxville Convention Center, it did not disappoint.
The Follies show is the annual performance by area journalists and PR folks to raise funds for communications scholarships and poke fun at area newsmakers in the process. This year was the 32nd for the annual Follies show and the honoree was Gene Patterson, the affable evening news anchor at WATE. Prior to that, Patterson anchored the evening news at WBIR for 18 years. He resigned from WBIR to be deputy to former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe.
What we didn’t know about Patterson until his former high school classmate, state Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee, announced it from the stage is that Patterson was a quarterback at Madisonville High School, from which he graduated in 1972. And he set a record while he was there that still stands to this day: the worst loss in the school’s history! The score was 78 to 0!
We found out this fun fact before the musical part of the show even started, which was a good omen!
The funniest lines at the Follies are usually found in the songs. So here are just a few of my favorites from Saturday. Sing along, now!
Flakes on the ground, flakes on the ground./Actin’ like fools/’Cause there’s flakes on the ground./Go to the sto’, milk ‘n’ bread can’t be found./Callin’ off the schools/’Cause there’s flakes on the ground.
UT communications professor Jim Stovall played former sheriff Tim Hutchison who was trounced by state Sen. Tim Burchett in the Republican primary for the position of Knox County mayor. Burchett gained national notoriety a few years ago for introducing the so-called “Roadkill Bill” that made it legal to possess animals killed by cars.
So the Hutchison character sang, to the tune of Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” a new version called “I Feel Like Roadkill Again.” Here are the new lyrics:
On the road again/I feel like roadkill on the road again/Just like that flattened possum up around the bend/And I can’t help but feel like roadkill again.
On the road again/Someone get the license number of that pickup!/Where are all my friends?/I led the ticket once . . .must be some mixup/Guess my game’s up
On the road again/I feel like roadkill on the road again/The nomination’s goin’ to the other Tim/And I can’t help but feel like roadkill again.
OK. You knew Lane Kiffin’s name would come up. So, join me if you will in a new song to the tune of “Rocky Top:”
Once we had a coach at Tennessee/Half snake the other half rat./Pile up the wood and burn his effigy,/We can dream about that.
Wish that we could kick Lane Kiffin/All through the Tennessee hills . . ./A lyin’, thievin’, no-count weasel,/Not worth the bullet to kill.
Kiffin’s butt will never be/Safe in Tennessee./Kiffin better hide/Out at USC,/Far from Tennessee./Go Vols!
But, wait. There’s more. Kiffin got a second song. Remember The Mamas and the Papas’ big hit, “California Dreamin’?” Well, this version is called “California Schemin’.”
All the leaves are orange . . .(The leaves are orange)/We thought you’d want to stay (Never to L.A.)/In our Big Orange Country (Our Big Orange Country/Through your coaching days. (Through your coaching daze.)
You named your baby “Knox,” (Your baby “Knox”)/What a crock, we say (Yes, a crock we say)/California schemin’ (California schemin’)/Will send you on your way.
Fans are up in arms, (They’re up in arms)/They riot in the street, (Riot in the street)/Set fire to a matress, (Fire to a mattress)/While recruits you Tweet. (Yes, you really cheat!)
Sneakin’ out of town, (You bratty clown)/”Good riddance, Lane,” we say. (Probation’s on the way)/Sent your shirts to Haiti (Shirts to Haiti)/You will surely pay. (You will surely pay.)
California schemin’. . .(Coach Kiffin, you must pay)/California schemin’. . .(Coach Dooley saves the day!)
Hahaha! You have to admit, the raw material has been pretty incredible. The Follies did a so-long tribute to one of its traditional targets over the past few years, the Ragsdale administration. This skit was called “A Farewell to (Mike) Arms,” referencing Mayor Ragsdale’s chief of staff. It was to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” but it was re-named, “Mike’s Way.”
And now the end is near/And so I face the final audit./My friends, I’ll say it clear,/I’ll state my case and see who bought it./As Ragsdale’s chief of staff,/I squirmed with each newspaper story./Cause it — came down to this/I did it Mike’s way.
Regrets? More than a few,/But then again, not on the record./I did what I was told,/You might say. . .success was checkered./Our plans went way off course,/”Easy Street” to a dead-end highway./And it — came down to this,/I did it Mike’s way.
Yes there were times, I’m sure you knew,/When we bit off more than we could chew./But through Cosby — when there was doubt,/We sucked it up and rode it out./We aced it all, with no re-call. . ./And did it Mike’s way!
Well, I could go on. Stacey Campfield as the “Phantom of the Stadium” with big Andrew Lloyd Webber numbers: “Musings of the Right” to the tune of “Music of the Night” and “Vote for Me — That’s All I Ask of You.” The rap version of “Old McDonald” — “Yo, McDonald!” — about urban hens and kudzu eating goats. Sarah Palin singing “Don’t Go Hackin’ My Mail,” to “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.”
It was quite the night. But now it’s time for a fresh start. We always wonder if the coming year can top the past one. Fortunately, the newsmakers in our fair city rarely fail to provide a wealth of new material.
Photo credit: Gay Lyons took the second- and third-to-last photos. Thanks, Gay!