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Charlie Farquharson and Them Udders

by Ivy Wigmore

A reviewer is supposed to go into a performance with an open mind but I have to admit that setting out to see Charlie Farquharson and Them Udders at Confederation Centre in Charlottetown, I didn’t. I could have started writing from the first time I saw the promotional image: Valerie Rosedale, imperious, haughty and astride a milk cow—the business end of which faces the onlooker—led by country cousin Charlie. As Charlie’s alter egos tend to be, the dowager is deadpan in whatever bizarre situation she finds herself, looking you fiercely in the eye and defying you to laugh. So, of course, you can’t help yourself.

Yes, I knew I was going to have fun, from the moment I decided to go and lined up my mom as my date. As it turned out, my brother had gotten tickets and also intended to take Mom but hadn’t informed her yet. Snooze, ya lose, as they say. Charlie Farquharson—even typing the name brings a smile to my face—is really a bit of a tradition in our family. I can still remember Dad guffawing as he watched Charlie on Hee Haw, or read one of his brilliant, corny books. Maybe his “Histry of Canada,” maybe his “Jogfree.” Dad was a lovely guffawer.

Two of the “Udders” onstage that night were David Warrack and Claudette. They were both charming and talented and also able to ham it up right along with the other Udders we’d be entertained by.

Warrack opened the show and introduced Claudette, who performed a parody of the traditional song “Alice Blue Gown.” Looking overmedicated and underattended, Claudette warbled “In my sweet little hospital gown,” about the trials and tribulations of meandering the corridors in a johnny shirt.

Don Harron ambled onstage in good time. Harron, of course, is more what Charlie would call an urbane fellow than a rurial one. You can hardly imagine him watching “Hee Haw,” let alone performing on it.

Harron said that after 57 years as a stand-up comic, he was now a sit-down comic. He chatted to the audience a bit, giving us some insight into where Charlie’s bemusement by the modern world and frustration with a lot of it comes from.

As I headed out to the performance that evening, I told my husband I’d probably be able to write a complete review on quotations from the show. And I’m sure I could have, despite the fact that you’d have to be superhuman to catch all Charlie and dem udders’ malapropisms, puns and brilliant, corny observations.

Here’s a little sample: When Claudette quizzed Charlie’s Scottish cousin as to whether anything was worn beneath the kilt he replied with gruff umbrage: “Certainly not! It’s all in first-class working condition!” We also learned, from Valerie Rosedale (who was very glad to be on our gentile island) that the Boston Tea Party—throwing tea into warm water—established the quality of tea brewing in America from that day forward.

My mom said she thought she caught about half of it. But she felt, as I did, that half was plenty. We did have fun. To my brother: Better luck next time!

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