Last week a friend gave me a long distance phone number and insisted that I call it. It turned out to be the recorded information line for a movie theater in the presumably Mayberryesque town of Graham, North Carolina (my friend's wife had found the number after hearing about the place on local radio), a community of about 10,000 between Raleigh and Greensboro. The speaker is the theater's manager, Tim Matthews, a.k.a. "Tim-Bob," who's used it as a forum for informal reviews, jokes and chatty anecdotes for about 10 years. His recordings have been played on radio stations around the country so often that Matthews, who has run the vintage '20s-era movie house since the early '80s, has stopped keeping track.
I transcribed the monologue below as an example of homegrown American performance art, and a touching narrative of the marketing travails of an independent movie exhibitor. The printed page, of course, does no justice to the man's dazzling corn-pone delivery, which is somehow both drawly and rapid-fire, like a more cogent version of Boomhauer on King of the Hill. For a brief audio clip, check out the online edition of New Times at www.phoenixnewtimes.com, or you can call 1-336-226-1488 and listen for yourself.
Thank yew fer callin' the Graham Cinema located 119 Nawth Main Street Graham Nawth Car'lina. Need ta talk ta me pers'nally call [his number] an' if Ah'm not there lee' me a message m'name's Tim-Bob Ah'll call ya back jus' soon's Ah git in Ah promise Ah will startin' Frahday Jan'wary twenny-second or rather still playin' we still have th' Star Trek movie an' we bought back the Rugrats fer th'afternoon. Uh, we did that because nobody's comin' t'see Star Trek in th'afternoons so maybe they'll come'n see Rugrats, Ah know it's a stupid movie, it's a kids' show, but kids like it, an' some grown-ups like it even though it's stupid, Ah mean, if yer not very intelligent you'll like it, course Ah liked it so what kin Ah say, anyway, Rugrats is G-rated, it's a cute show, all seats $3, plays at 6 o'clock on Friday, 2, 4 an' 6 on Saturday'n'Sunday afternoon it will end on Sunday afternoon and uh, Star Trek: Insurrection--the new one--is rated PG all seats $3 plays at 8 o'clock ownly, Ah did that 8 o'clock ownly show t'give ya a chance ta eat supper an' git down here, down't'the movies, plus there wasn't nobody comin' ta see Star Trek at 9 o'clock, wasn't many comin' at seven, Ah swear Ah b'leeve that somebody beams people outta here y'know? That Enterprahse's is up there jus' clippin' people outta mah place or sumpin', Ah cain't find 'em, anyway, it's a good movie, c'mon, yew Trekkies, whar are ya? Check it on out, Ah think you'll enjoy it, big ol' wide screen, y'know, Cinemascope mah screen's so wide it takes the Enterprahse, y'know, 30 seconds t'get across that screen at warp speed. [pause] Uh, lemme tell ya this stowry, trew stowry: Fella came in here y'know an' he wuz rushin', y'know, an' he made it on tahme fer the movie but he said, "Boy, Ah'm glad mah wahf has big boobs!" an' Ah said, "Yeah? Y'like big boobs?" an' he said, "Naw, Ah don' care 'bout the boobs," but he said, "Y'know the muffler fell off th'car on th'way to the movie an' Ah took that big bra a' hers an wired that muffler back up on there an' we made it here on tahm, ah won't miss th'beginning a' Star Trek." Well, Ah guess there's a lesson in everything . . . Lemme tell ya a joke real quick, an ol' man went't'th'doctor, doctor checked 'im out an' said y'know he was in good shape an' th'ol' man said, "Yeah, Ah'm pretty good 'cep' Ah'm impotent but Ah don' care 'bout that," doctor sez, "Now wait a minit, impotence is no problem now, we got Vy-agra, Vy-agra's easy t'get Ah kin getcha some Vy-agra that'll take care a' that impotence you'll be fahn," an' th' ol' man sez, "Naw, Doc, Ah 'ppreciate it but Ah love mah wahf, an' Ah don' wanna brang those horibble headaches back on 'er that she use ta git." Anyway, come on down here t'Graham an' check us out, we'd love ta have ya.
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Reached by phone in Graham, Tim-Bob promises to offer his views on The Waterboy this week. He says he'll charge only $1 admission to that film, noting "It just wasn't one of my favorites.