Dolly Parton Loves Comedy Because It ‘Helps You Through the Hard Times’
In addition to her unparalleled songwriting skills, Dolly Parton has displayed some serious comedic chops throughout her career. The singer says she honed her funny bone by learning from some of the other artists in her circle.
"Minnie Pearl was a dear friend of mine, and she was a very classy lady," Parton recalled during a recent press conference. An iconic Grand Ole Opry mainstay and country comedian, Pearl was known for her down-home delivery. However, Parton points out, "She was very intelligent, very educated, but she just put on that whole garb with her little hat so she could do that corny country comedy that people love."
Pearl's cornball aesthetic tapped into a kind of humor particular to country music's audience, Parton goes on to say. That brand of comedy is similar to Parton's own, which has always been a big part of her musical career and her personal life.
"Because this is about country people, people back home working on the farms and milking their cows and doing whatever -- they love laughing," the singer continues. "They love to have something to listen to and laugh about, and the type of humor they understand. I think most country people, and most entertainers like myself, comedy is part of our being because it's kind of what helps you through the hard times growing up."
In fact, she says, perhaps the biggest influence on her style of onstage humor comes from her upbringing. "We made more fun of stuff that you probably shouldn't even laugh at, but that was the funniest stuff," Parton remembers. "We tried to find the humor in it, even though it was about because somebody was sick, or whatever. You'd find something silly to say about it.
"I just think it's important for people to laugh," she concludes. "I grew up in a family where my dad's people were absolutely hysterical. My mama's people, too. So I get that from them. We're just naturally funny -- we think!"
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