April Foolies delivers laughs, tears and winners all around

Kiwanis April Foolies

Kiwanis Club performs at the 2011 April ...

April Fools Day morphed into a night of hilarity for the 1,200 folks lucky enough to have a ticket for the popular April Foolies, held that evening at the Clayton Center for the Arts.

And while most acts had the audience either tapping their feet to the music or holding their sides with laughter, more than a few also wiped a few tears as Shelley with The Gate Crashers, sang her song with crystal clear talent, then burst into a gleeful smile as the audience came to their feet.

Such is the dichotomy of the “Talent Show With a Twist.”

And when it came time to bribe the judges, the panel of elected officials never had a chance. “Tips” for the various acts added up to more than $9,000, with the top three teams each bringing in either just under or over $2,000.

State Sen. Doug Overbey was master of ceremonies, and Brian and Lisa Tuggle were the co-chairs for the 2011 April Foolies. Overbey showed he knows how to be funny as he read a bedtime story to Brian Tuggle and James Clark, aka: Larry and Darrell. The trio drew laughs again when they each passed around $2 they owed one another and sang “Where, oh Where Are You Tonight.”

And it was Overbey who asked the question, “Who says Kiwanis can’t be fun?” before the Maryville Alcoa Kiwanis Clubs Glee Club and Retired Guys Drill Team took the stage and, at the end, first prize. The Gate Crashers came in second with Deborah Whaley and Steel Kickin’ (But Just Barely) took third place.

The Retired Guys Drill Team drew laughter and cheers in their white T-shirts and shorts with black socks pulled up calf-high as they did a drill using lawn chairs. After that, the curtain opened to reveal 14 “glee club” lip-syncing and dancing to hits by artists such as Black-eyed Peas, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber.

The Gate Crashers, members of the Gateway to Independence, unintentionally reminded everyone in the audience what all the fun was about as they sang their hearts out and responded with gleeful exuberance to the appreciative audience’s standing ovation.

A “back by popular demand” Village People act brought Dave Bennett and Scott Graves a return engagement with some new faces as the Village People -- Steve Stout, Earl McMahan and Ron Dunn. The audience was gasping for air from laughter by the time they reached their “YMCA” closer.

The real winners were the three agencies benefitting from the show, co-chair Brian Tuggle said. April Foolies splits the funds between New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, The Gateway to Independence and United Way’s Success By Six.

“This is my message: We might have had first, second and third place winners, but the real winners are those three agencies, and we had great elected officials as judges who supported the cause,” he said. “I thought it was awesome. I know we raised $9,136 in tips taken up during the event as votes. We’ve still got money coming in from sponsors. It was sold out and standing room only,” he said. “We had probably 1,200 people there.”

Tuggle, who led the effort with his wife, co-chair Lisa Tuggle, said it was gratifying to see such strong support from the community.

“When you do an event like this, you have people who come together from different genres and walks of life, and everybody seems to have left all that at the door to come to raise money for these three agencies,” she said.

Brian Tuggle said the enthusiasm of the crowd was contagious. “You could feel the vibe from the crowd that evening. We wanted to put on a good show,” he said. “You could feel the electricity from the crowd which carried over to backstage.”

Brian Tuggle said there were more than 145 performers in the show, and everyone worked together to ensure things went smoothly behind the scenes and on stage. “My hat is off to all the people who performed. Everything went so smoothly.”

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