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May 30, 2006

Comedy Caravan goes to hell: ‘The Beast Show’ honors radio animal ‘Uncle’ Ron Clay

BY NATHAN THACHERA stroll down recent memory lane is in order. Think of any old Louisville 9 a.m. in 1981. Just imagine how bland and spiritless those mornings would have been without Uncle Ron Clay’s “Morning Sickness” radio show on WQMF there to cheer you up and challenge your mindset with his charmingly perverse brand of humor. With Terry Meiners as co-host of the popular radio show, it was disc jockey Uncle Ron’s slow, hippy-on-an-acid-trip voice that made certain bits legendary — anyone recall “Beaver Bits” or “Celebrity Death March”? Ron Clay died from lymphoma in 1991, so it is in Clay’s time-honored tradition of spreading anti-establishment battery acid all over the airwaves that Comedy Caravan presents “The Beast Show,” an exhibition of subversive, angel-punching putrescence to be held on Tuesday, 6/6/06.“The idea of 6/6/06 hit us as a way to get some of the sick, twisted comics in town to come up with sick, twisted, perverted stuff,” says Tom Sobel, president of Comedy Caravan. “It occurred to us that there was no more appropriate person to dedicate this to than Ron Clay. Sick and twisted was right up his alley.”Clay never concerned himself with boundaries, and he set a very high (and in other ways very low) standard for dark, left-of-center radio comedy. Nothing was taboo, although much was sacred with Clay, who dedicated his off-air hours to charities that helped children and abused spouses. His mark on the city is indelible, even if today it’s the mark of the beast.“So many people in the radio industry, especially in this town, are students and disciples. We thought this show would be a totally appropriate opportunity to look at what is now 15 years since Ron passed away,” Sobel says.In order to keep his memory alive and well, and to introduce his low, languid voice to a new generation of listeners, Comedy Caravan will be offering the first 100 guests copies of a compilation CD of his work, The Best of Ron Clay. Several acts are slated to perform Tuesday night, which will begin with an opening prayer by the evening’s host, the Rev. Dickie Stiles, a character from comedian Rich Barber, who helped organize the show. “Basically, we were going to do it as the ‘End of the World Show’ and have everybody get ready and prepare for Revelation — wear clean underwear, that kind of thing,” Barber says. Jim “Danger Boy” Bulleit will be one among many on the stage paying tribute to Clay. Comedian Pat Spring will do some “faith healing” and conduct a pagan baptism near the end of the show. An acoustic rock band dubbed Faith Monkeys will also play a few songs, and the sexy goth group Grotesque Burlesque will provide a between-the-sets spectacle. Further blasphemous debauchery can be expected from Marc Poe and Will Hardesty, who will re-enact David vs. Goliath. More performers are likely to be added to the bill. Christians are welcome, but torches and brickbats must be checked at the door. “The Beast Show” is the first in a new series of “Eccentric Tuesday” performances at Comedy Caravan sponsored by LEO, including the “New Vaudeville” show on June 13 featuring various performing artists (jugglers, mimes, etc.), and the annual Gay Pride show the following Tuesday. Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.com