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Article 4:
Meet My Funny Friends

By Sue Buchanan
For Bill and Gloria Gaither’s “Homecoming: The Magazine”
May/June 2008

This week I was invited (well, actually I begged) to watch a rehearsal of the Glory Bugles.  If you don’t know about this talented comedy troupe, you soon will.  I’m predicting (and I’m always right!) a TV infomercial and a traveling road show.  So that I don’t have to spoon feed you every single detail, check out www.glorybugles.com.
           Nan, Wayne, Steve and Bonne (talented actors all) play a misguided gospel singing group so hungry for success that they go overboard with everything they do.
One reporter who reviewed their show said, “They put the fun in fundamental.”  Another said, “check your holier-than-thou baggage at the door.”  And yet another wrote:  “Glory Bugles are like the Gaithers on acid.  Or better yet, the Gaithers with acid reflux!
            I couldn’t wait to ask them the question that so piqued my interest:  “What kind of children were you?”  (Think dunce cap!”)  The first to answer was Nan Gurley who plays  Queenie Delphie, the always right, legalistic, know-it-all, self-assured, large-chested director of the Box Springs Fine Arts Center.  (Let’s face it, dear reader, you probably have a Queenie in YOUR church!  Perhaps YOU are her!)
           “If this tells you anything,” she laughed, “IO once called my best friend a ‘self0-rightesous whitened sepulcher full of dead men’s bones.’”  Nan had heard the expression from her father so she couldn’t much get in trouble at home.  “At school,” she says,” it was a different story with my teacher (she screws up her face and exaggerates the pronunciation…Miss Croww-ney!”
            Wayne Gurley plays Farley T. Byrd, a man with delusions of grandeur, who is trapped in a dead end job at the ammonia factory, but longs to see his group, the Glory Bugles, reach the heights of stardom he think it deserves.
             When Wayne was a child, he tells me, it wasn’t unusual for him to be in trouble to the extent he often “got three licks each from both principal and teacher.”  One of his favorite high-jinks involved a whoopee cushion that was passed around from kid to kid, in now-you-heard-it-and-now-you-don’t fashion.
             Beaulah Byrd (a.k.a. Bonnie Keen) is a poodle stylist and cosmetologist for the deceased at the Imagone Drive-Through Funeral Parlor in her “real” job, and she is willing to do whatever it takes, even baton twirling and doing the splits, for the success of the show.  And the glory of God, of course.
             Bonnie remembers wanting to make  people laugh from the time she was little.  She obsessively wrote plays about her “Lonely Helena” and they were performed in her school.  Her pretend world, she says, saved her.
             Steve Pippin’s “Dr. Harley E. Never,” is Box Springs’ only certified swinologist, a “pig whisperer” and life-long bachelor.  When I ask Steve what trouble he might have gotten into as a child because of his quirky sense of humor, he told me he made sound effects with his voice and that he could make the sound of pretty much anything.
              As I was looking over my notes trying to figure out what to ask next, I began to hear water dripping.  Ker-plunk.  Ker-pluk,  Ker-pluk!  “”What’s…?  Where…?”  I stuttered (thinking of my hair-do of course.)  They just like when he was a little boy (I’m guessing here).  Steve gives me this innocent look – palms up, eyebrows raised – and says, “It wasn’t me.  Honest!  Wasn’t me!”