The Importance of Being Hey Vern It’s Ernest

Hee-Haw wasn’t that funny to me. I watch it now and actually laugh at the jokes. But when I was younger, it was the music that seduced me. I felt like I had to sit through the jokes and the girls sitting on hay bales in order to get to Roy Clark.

The first instrument I ever wanted to play was a pedal steel guitar. I saw someone play one on the Tommy Hunter Show. I was maybe 7, possibly younger. “How can you sit down and play music?” I thought. “This is for me.” For several years, Mark Bragg left his pedal steel at my house and I understand the raw basics. Dobro is more my speed and I’ve slid my heart under the cone for a long time now.

Point being, country music has been huge in my life since before day one. The best country music, like all the best MUSIC, speaks to the heart immediately and never goes away.

Roy Clark was a virtuoso. That word gets overused, but for Roy it is the truth. Every stringed instrument he touched became him. Amidst the LITERALLY corny jokes (i.e. jokes about corn) Roy always came through as an artist. Watch old Hee-Haw episodes and watch the eyes of his colleagues. There was nothing Roy Clark couldn’t do. He could make music simply by thinking about it.


Someone asked Roy if it bothered him that he might not have been taken as seriously as an artist because he was on a comedy show. He said “yes, until I deposit my check.”

I feel that Roy Clark lived freely as both artist and entertainer and that’s something I will always admire. He put his entire being into every activity. Alongside Hee-Haw, those close to me know of my love of Jim Varney aka Ernest P. Worrall and the great Gailard Sartain.

All are men who blur the lines. It is possible to be serious and funny at once. Because I was on this train at an early age, it’s not a stretch to say that there’s some Hee-Haw in me. And if you’ve never experienced the Tulsa cable access majesty of Sartain with Gary Busey known as Mazeppa Pompazoidi consider yourself initiated.

The moral/morale of the story is take everything/nothing seriously/not seriously all of/none of the time.