Written by Dewey Chaffee
My name is Dewey Chaffee. I turn forty years old on December the seventh. In almost every way, I’m what people would call a “Late Bloomer.”
I am also a comedian.
I spent the first half of my life wandering from place to place, feeling lost, wondering why I was alive. The second half of my life is being spent rejoicing in the lucky discovery that I have comic timing. Extremely grateful for this gift, I work tirelessly every single day in an effort to find new ways to make people laugh.
I was never afforded the opportunity to receive a college education. For years, I was convinced that this meant that I was stupid. However, my mother was fifteen years old when I was born, so, every chance I get, I remind people that I went to high school twice.
The fact that I held no degree embarrassed me for a long time, until I was cast in a professional production alongside other “classically trained” actors who owed thousands of dollars to their acting schools. I realized that I was in the exact same place in my career as they were, and I didn’t owe anyone a nickel. I was the smart one after all.
In my family, I was the first person to graduate from high school.
In my family, I was the first person to live in a house without wheels.
In my family, I was the first person to recognize the ugliness of prejudice and vow not to be that person.
In my family, I was the first person to witness patterns of complacency and defeat and strived not to repeat them.
For a long time, I was afraid that, like my young mother, I was doomed to work a mind-numbing, dead-end factory job that I hated.
When I was much too young, I married a girl named Marie and we had a son. His name is Christopher, he is sixteen now, and he turned out just great. One of the best things about Christopher is that he doesn’t mind having a gay dad. His mother struggled with it, however. I can’t blame her. We were always fighting over who got to hang the curtains.
I was fortunate. After I lost my Ideal Family, I was given the Funny in return. Being funny healed my broken soul. Being funny gave me renewed purpose.
One day, I created a character and I named him Wayburn Sassy. Wayburn is eighty-nine years old and has declared himself an “Entertainment Legend.” He embodies the bigotry and the prejudices that I witnessed from the people who raised me. I knew from the very first moment that Wayburn appeared on stage that, with him, I had stumbled upon something special. Audiences need Wayburn. He demonstrates to us how laughable blind ignorance truly is.
The most valuable character in my life, however, is one that I did not have to create. The Universe handed him to me on a silver platter. His name is Douglas and he tolerates me better than anyone on this planet. In spite of my many faults, Douglas does everything he can to uplift and support every crazy idea that I come up with. He understands my desire to introduce Wayburn Sassy to the rest of the world.
Together, with the singular purpose of promoting Wayburn Sassy, Douglas and I formed our own comedy company called Dewey Chaffee Comedy Enterprises, LLC. In just two years, we have successfully mounted two local award-winning shows starring Mr. Sassy. We have managed to position Wayburn as a recognizable local celebrity.
Our biggest success so far: this month, we are ecstatic that Wayburn will conduct his very first celebrity interview, speaking with openly gay Hollywood star Leslie Jordan, best known as the flamboyant Beverly Leslie on Will and Grace.
Earlier this year, however, things were tough for our fledgling company. In an effort to ride the wave of Wayburn’s local success, Douglas and I opened The Blue Revue Starring Wayburn Sassy on Orlando’s tourist strip. Unfortunately, the overhead was too much for us to bear and we were forced to close the show after only three months. I had grossly underestimated the enormous advertising costs of such a production. I took the closing as a personal failure. I was devastated.
Undeterred, however, we knew that we needed to find a cheaper way to continue creating opportunities for Wayburn Sassy. Because we owned a camcorder, we decided to try the internet. Currently, we are shooting an online “web-reality” series centered around Wayburn Sassy. Entitled “Pushing Sassy,” our camera follows Wayburn to every appearance that he does. So far, we’ve completed two episodes, (each under ten minutes in length to accommodate the short attention span of today’s internet audience). We plan to launch the show in January of 2009 on both YouTube and on our own website. (www.wayburnsassy.com).
Wayburn’s career-path is modeled after the brilliant Barry Humphries and his world-reknowned alter-ego, Dame Edna. We dream of equal success. As a team, we continue to search for unique and interesting ways to get Wayburn’s face out there. One day, we envision Wayburn Sassy on a national stage.
As someone from a background of little opportunity provided him, I have had to find my own voice. My family could not foster it. Public education did not support it. Higher education was out of the question. However, I refused to see these challenges as hopeless roadblocks. Instead, I viewed them merely as hurdles that I needed to leap. I was prepared to leap then, and I am prepared to leap now.
I view Wayburn Sassy’s success as my potential salvation. I view Wayburn Sassy as my son’s college tuition. I view Wayburn Sassy as a ticket out of my day-job as a theme-park actor.
This is a lot of pressure to place upon the shoulders of an eighty-nine year-old man. But, Wayburn Sassy is an Entertainment Legend. I’m pretty sure he can handle it.