Gridiron celebrates 40 years of laughter

Gridiron celebrates 40 years of laughter

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Forty years of laughter continued this weekend at the Lake Charles Civic Center as the Ad & Press Club of Southwest Louisiana took to the stage with their annual Gridiron Show.

Anything is fair game as members make fun of news makers and politicians, and it all it goes to a very good cause.

With four decades on the stage, it's the longest running stage show in Southwest Louisiana.

Former American Press editor and columnist Jim Beam helped write the first production in 1972.

"We had no idea what we were doing," Beam said. "We just faked it and it turned out real well."

Ruthie Broussard has performed in all 40 Gridirons and said the shows only get better.

"I keep doing it because I love these crazy people. They all are so crazy. You, too! But seriously, I've met some amazing people and lifelong friends doing this show," Broussard said.

While some things have changed over the years, the show continues to provide scholarships for McNeese and Sowela students.

This year, the Ad & Press Club set a new fundraising record of $50,000.

"I just love that the audience loves it so much and they are so willing to support our fund-raising efforts," said Cathy Chapman.

There are weeks of rehearsals before the show hits the stage. Members say, often times, what happens behind the curtain is even funnier.

Heather and Randy Partin play love bugs attached at the rear for a funny scene that everyone in Southwest Louisiana can relate to.

"We made our own costumes," explained Heather as Randy suited up. "We are married, so this is okay ... It may look funny, but we can go out and do this in front of an audience."

This year, the cast took a lot of shots at Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform. A skit spoofing American Idol has become a crowd favorite over the years. While the laughs are at their own expense, the news makers are good sports.

"Not only do they enjoy it they get upset if you don't pan them and they say, 'Why didn't you pick on me, I'm a celebrity ... you didn't say anything about me,' " Beam said.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said the shows always put viewers on edge.

"But that's okay," he said.

"I have to tell you they say they taught us in school that if they are making fun of you then they are liking you. I guess hopefully we are doing a pretty good job at the Lake Charles Police Department and as elected officials and other guys that are being spoofed," said Lake Charles Police Department Deputy Chief Mark Kraus.

Matt Felder, with the Ad & Press Club, said the spoofs are all in good fun.

"We hope everybody makes light of the situation and can enjoy laughing at us and laugh at themselves," Felder said.

Each year, the club gives their "Panned Award" to the person spoofed the most. This year's award went to Louisiana House Speaker, Rep. Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles.

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