RED SKELTON TRIBUTE
If you are a comedian and everyone – even total strangers – tells you that your mannerisms and humor are reminiscent of Red Skelton, then you create a Red Skelton Tribute Show; it’s a given. That is precisely how Brian Hoffman began his successful show, but that is not the whole story. Hoffman credits divine intervention for his career in comedy. Years before he began his tribute show, an accident ended his career as a truck driver, and, for that, Hoffman is grateful. By turning to comedy, and ultimately to his Red Skelton Tribute, he has lived a dream.
Hoffman’s tribute to Red Skelton began in Las Vegas where he had a successful 10-year run. When someone advised him to go to Pigeon Forge, he, at first, thought they must be joking. After all, it is just a small town with a population of a few thousand people. But when he came to the Smoky Mountains and experienced for himself its down-home culture, the friendliness of the people, and the allure of the mountains, he moved right in.
Hoffman first opened a noon show at the Live Rock-n-Roll Theater. That was in 2014. He knew without a doubt that his Skelton tribute deserved a prime spot in an evening show. So, he rented a storefront and converted it into a theater. The Red Skelton Tribute Theater.
He didn’t choose that name lightly, though. Red’s widow, Lothian Skelton, gave her blessing to Brian Hoffman after watching his show and meeting him in person. With her blessing, came permission to use Red’s name on the theater. In fact, she loves Hoffman’s tribute to her late husband so much that she has seen his show again.
Brian says that Red’s humor is timeless, and those of us who grew up watching Red’s movies and TV show know he is right. He says that he began by memorizing some of Red’s more famous routines word for word. Just as Red’s act grew and changed from its beginning in 1930 to its culmination with the Red Skelton Hour TV variety show in 1971, Hoffman’s tribute has grown. As example, a joke about Dean Martin might not land with an audience of Gen Z kids who have no idea who Martin is, but they would understand if the joke was about Charlie Sheen – and so would Baby Boomers. That’s the kind of growth to which I refer. Don’t fret, though. This is a true Red Skelton show, one of the best ever.
Hoffman recreates Red’s most famous characters, including Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sheriff Deadeye, Junior the Mean Widdle Kid, and Freddy the Freeloader, and does so with precise mannerisms and clothes tailor-made to replicate Skelton’s costumes. He even cites Red’s Pledge of Allegiance. Hoffman’s portrayal of Skelton and his characters are spot on.
Watching Hoffman’s Red Skelton Tribute Show, you may find yourself transported in time. Checking out his videos on YouTube, I found myself almost believing that I was sitting on my mother’s sofa, watching The Red Skelton Hour on our 19-inch black and white TV, just like I did when I was a kid.