If “Laughter Is the Best Medicine,” as Reader’s Digest claims, then the Music City Artists presentation of Sassy and Trashy: Judy Tenuta and Etta May provided a double dose of comedy by two veteran stand-up comics, performing their very different acts back-to-back April 29th at The Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC.

For my money, the plain-white-trash comic Etta May was pick of the litter. After Etta May’s down-home humor, the ethereal affectations of self-appointed “Love Goddess” and “Aphrodite of the Accordion” Judy Tenuta proved increasingly annoying and more than some members of the audience could bear. They voted with their feet rather than endure the trills and whinnies that Tenuta uses to punctuate her trenchant observations on life, love, and politics. (Note to Judy: You really can be too cute for your own good.)

In her hideous striped shirt, fire-engine red stretch pants, and horn-rimmed glasses, with a red handkerchief on her head, Etta May looks like a refugee from the “Jerry Springer Show.” Last Saturday night, she was the very image of trailer-park chic, heckling a svelte blonde beauty seated down-front whom she accused of being a Hooters waitress with an evening off.

Claiming that she had just been voted “Best Dressed in Knightdale,” Etta May said, “You know you’re getting fat when you sit down in your bathtub and the water in the toilet rises.”

Mocking her frumpy overweight stage persona, she grabbed her breasts and confessed that she used to be a 36D, but now she’s a 38 Long. “I don’t mean to brag,” she quipped, “but I could breast feed [some members of the audience] from right here.”

Equating cellulite to hail damage on a car, Etta May told her female fans, “If we dropped our panties, half of us would look like we slept on a waffle iron.”

Other choice remarks include:



  • “My kids remind me of my hemorrhoids. Every time I sit down, they start irritating me.”

  • Teenagers with multiple facial piercings look like “somebody from Home Depot did a drive-by.”

  • When her teenage son’s friend, whom Etta May dubbed “Tacklebox” for his multiple piercings, started lisping after he had his tongue pierced, the comedian asked him WHY in the world he would pierce his tongue, and the boy lisped back: “Don’t you think I’m thexy?” and Etta May had a surefire slogan to print on the T-shirts she sells in the lobby after shows. Etta May cracked, “Is Elmer Fudd a stud nowadays? Did I miss something on CNN?”

  • Her three rules to hold marriages together include: “Never try to decorate a Christmas tree with him…. Never try to back up a boat trailer with him…. Never expect more from a man than he’s able to give you.”

After an overlong and somewhat repetitive video introduction, Judy Tenuta hit the stage in a harem costume and cooed and warbled her way through a series of jokes.

Claiming to read from a fan letter asking “Is it true that you can turn a fruit into a vegetable?” Tenuta tartly replied, “Yes, you can. Just put it on the stage with a white tiger.”

She added, “I wanted to become addicted to painkillers. The problem is, I’m Catholic and addicted to pain.”

After excoriating “Monica Slutinski” for playing “swallow the leader” in the Oval Office, Tenuta commented on the frequency of girl-girl scenes in pornography. “We [women] want to see two men together,” she claimed, “one to cook and one to clean.”

Other acid observations a la the founder of Judyism include:

  • “What I want to know is, when is Dick Cheney going to take George Bush fishing?”

  • “I want to put Dr. Phil out of your misery.”

  • “Why is it that when I get on an airplane, I get seated between a land mass and a glacier.”

  • “You go to the beach hoping to see a super model. What do you see? A manatee in a g-string.”

  • “Ladies, have you ever been with a man who was so hairy that you didn’t know he was nekkid? You need a Weedwhacker to find his [penis].”

  • “Martha Stewart is just like Mr. Rogers, except not quite so feminine.”

The Carolina Theatre: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/. Judy Tenuta: http://www.judytenuta.com/. Etta May: http://ettamay.com/html/index.html [inactive 8/07].