Willie P. Richardson said he started making prank phone calls as a child but it didn’t become a career until about five years ago when a record producer friend suggested it be part of his comedy act.
Dialing for laughs
Jokester Willie P. Richardson bringing his prank calls, standup routine to Athens
By Danielle Komis
If the phone rings and Willie P. Richardson is on the other end, you may not want to answer it. Chances are, the nationally known jokester has something up his sleeve, and you may end up on one of his comedy albums.
The Texas-born humorist, well-known for his phone pranks featured on radio stations nationwide, will perform his standup routine at Athens Middle School auditorium on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. The show will benefit “Hooked on Fishing — Not on Drugs” youth anti-drug and alcohol abuse program.
Richardson’s standup routine draws on his Southern upbringing in Nacogdoches, Texas, his family and his show business career.
“It has taken me years to develop a couple of hours’ material that everyone will laugh at,” he said. His show has remained largely unchanged for a few years, but his fans seem to like it that way, he said.
“People come back to hear the same stuff,” he said. “They’ll holler out, ‘Tell the one about so and so.’ ”
And everyone from young children to the elderly see his shows because his humor is clean and non-offensive.
“A lot of my humor is centered around how country my family members are,” he said. “It doesn’t demean anybody. I make as much fun of myself on stage as anyone else.”
Because his humor is unusually clean, Richardson’s prank calls have been embraced by radio stations
nationwide. He has recorded 13 albums and sold more than one million of his recordings.
One of Willie’s favorite prank calls was to a local house-moving company, in which he tries to get his noisy neighbor’s house moved while they’re at work. When asked if the neighbors know their house is going to be moved, he answers “not really,”
“But sir, you can’t just move somebody’s house without their permission,” the moving company employee protests.
More silly calls like these can be heard on Willie’s Web site, www.worldwidewillie.com. All of the people pranked sign a permission form to allow Willie to use their call, and most have been set up for the prank through friends or relatives, he said.
No one has refused to have their call used on an album, he said.
“Some of them get pretty mad or aggravated but then I’ll say ‘Your son got me to do it’ and they’ll start laughing,” he said.
Richardson has visited local station WKAC 1080 a few times on their morning classifieds show, and each time listeners get “a kick out of it,” said on-air personality Ken Fox.
“He’s hilarious,” he said. Plus, Richardson is down-to-earth despite his fame.
“When he’s here he acts like he’s known me all his life,” Fox said. “He’s the most cordial person.”
For Richardson, the fans are what his comedy is all about, he said.
“There’s nothing that makes me feel better than to be in front of a house of people and make them laugh,” he said. And that feeling is still relatively new.
While Richardson started prank calling people as a child, it didn’t become his career until a record producer friend got him started about five years ago.
Before he was a comedian, Richardson held a variety of occupations such as a milk truck driver, landscape worker and a molder in a brass valve factory.
Richardson’s also will feature Jeff “Fatboy” Lindsey of Huntsville who writes and sings Ray Stevens-like novelty tunes such as “I didn’t send my kids to college to learn how to drink,” and “If I Was a Girl.”
The Athens show will be the first time the two have done a show together. To Lindsey, the pairing just made sense because both artists use clean humor. While Lindsey has “been a musician forever,” he only recently started leaning towards the humorous after he performed some of his funny songs at a show and they got a “huge response,” he said.
If you go
What: All-ages comedy show featuring Willie P. Richardson and Jeff “Fatboy”Lindsey
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Athens Middle School auditorium at 605 S. Clinton St.
Cost: Tickets are $10 in advance at Railroad Bazaar in Athens and Huntsville or by calling (877) 560-0098. Tickets are the door will be $15.
For more information on Willie P. Richardson, visit www.worldwidewillie.com.
For more information on Jeff “Fatboy” Lindsey, visit www.gofatboy.com.
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