Etta May to bring southern fried humor to Paramount

Mar. 30—ANDERSON — Etta May is different from a lot of other people in that she's an illiterate college graduate.

While other college students were devouring books and writing reports, May was watching movies.

When it came to time for those first-year English class book reports, May would write reports from a unique perspective.

A memorable one involved "Gone with the Wind."

"I said, 'You know, this could've been the Vietnam War, the Iraq War. It's not the war that this book is about,'" said May, who will perform April 6 at the Paramount Theatre in Anderson.

"'This book is about a coming of age of a woman that was pampered all her life. She had to find out who she was and grow up.'"

May's illiteracy was due to a brain injury from being stillborn for 10 minutes. That, plus a lack of hope from her parents, kept her from reading like other children.

However, that didn't keep her from being a top-billed standup comic.

As Mark Twain is believed to have said, "The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow," so follows May's life.

Despite receiving a full-ride scholarship for playing softball and volleyball, they were revoked after an automobile accident damaged her hands and brain.

Those setbacks and others have transformed May into a quick-witted, nationally-renowned act.

May described her show as a mixture of jokes and storytelling, the kind she would often hear on people's front porches growing up.

"I heard some of the greatest storytellers in my life sitting on the front porch," she remembered. "It was a front porch with a couch. If you were woop-dee-do, you had a refrigerator on your porch; the freezer didn't work, but the refrigerator still did and you stocked that with beer."

Relatable stories about equally relatable "white trash" is how she described her show.

May prides herself on being completely clean. No dirty jokes will be told, which she believes will be refreshing for audiences.

She will be joined by two of her friends, Sonia and Jodi White of the Southern Fried Chicks, a southern-rooted comedy troupe.

Tickets are available online or at the Paramount Theatre box office.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter

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