When I first saw Dana Carvey perform The Church Lady
skit on Saturday Night Live
, I instantly identified with this character.
I grew up with The Church Lady. The REAL Church Lady.
Mrs. B was a steadfast member of the local Baptist church in my little bitty home town in Texas. (I’m sure that as my mom and brother are reading this, they are having quite a laugh over memories of Mrs. B and the association with The Church Lady.)
Here is her photograph that I scanned from my high school yearbook. Besides being a very active member of the church, Mrs. B was also the librarian at the high school.
As steadfast Baptists, we were there every time the doors were open: On Sundays, there was Sunday school followed by church, then “training union” in the late afternoon followed by evening worship. Wednesdays consisted of an evening “prayer meeting” or, if it was the first Wednesday of the month, a church supper followed by a business meeting.
Needless to say, there were lots of opportunities to see Mrs. B in action. Like The Church Lady, she came across with somewhat of a judgmental, holier-than-thou demeanor.
Although she was president of the local chapter of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU), I cannot recall anything they ever did or anyone else really belonging to this organization.
But once a month, at every business meeting, Mrs. B would saunter up to the front of the church, smile, and proudly give her report on the WMU. The thing is, she had a really nasal voice and with that strong Texan accent, it would come out thus: “I have this month’s report on the activities of the dubya em-meeewww.”
My brother and I would always wait for that and burst into uncontrollable snickers upon hearing “dubya em-meeewww,”
followed by the usual glare-and-finger-snap from mom (who was probably doing her best not to laugh as well.)
The best performances from Mrs. B came on Wednesday night prayer meetings when any member of the church could stand and announce a special request for prayers – an activity tailor-made for a Church Lady.
She gave a command performance each and every Wednesday. No matter what, this woman was hell-bent on coming up with an overly-emotional prayer request. It would usually go something like this:“I would just like the church to offer their special prayers for my niece’s sister-in-law’s brother who is going through . . . (tears would appear) . . . some trials and tribulations . . . (gasping) . . . and . . . . and. . . .”
She’d then crumble into a puddle of emotion. This went on every Wednesday night.
So, yes, I had first-hand influence from the real Church Lady. So much so, that when Dana Carvey’s character became popular, I obtained a Church Lady outfit from a local Salvation Army thrift store (complete with a brooch) and then I became Church Lady every Halloween for several years.
All I had to do was to think of Mrs. B.
Labels: Dana Carvey, Saturday Night Live, The Church Lady