Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vic Henley on comedy, Auburn football and the Bear

We don't normally do interviews here in Expats-land -- we prefer blathering, and linking to the blathering of others -- but with comedian Vic Henley coming to town we made an exception. Henley, who had his own Comedy Central special and has done Leno and Letterman, is doing a show Saturday night at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. But more to the point for the purposes of this blog, he's the younger brother of Terry Henley.

Some of you Auburn fans just felt a tingle. Some of you Alabama fans just felt a chill wind.

In 1972, Terry Henley -- an Auburn running back at the time -- promised that the underdog Tigers would "beat the no. 2" out of second-ranked Alabama. Auburn pulled the upset in the famous "Punt, Bama, Punt" game (here's video), and some people say that moment was the first time Auburn fans rolled Toomer's Corner with toilet paper. (Which gives me an excuse to link to my SI story one last time.)

So we asked Vic Henley about that moment, SEC football and such.

You were there for the "Punt, Bama, Punt" game, right?

Yep. My job was to sit with Terry's date. He was 12 years older than me, and he had a different girl every week. When they blocked the first punt, I missed it. I was in the bathroom -- I was angry that we were getting beat. I even stomped on my blue-and-gold shaker. Real mature. So I heard all the noise when I was in the bathroom, and I saw that we had scored. So I went back and sat next to the hottie. And I was right there when we blocked the second punt.

Terry had a buddy who had a show on the campus radio station, WEGL. Terry was on there before the game and made that comment about beating the no. 2 out of Alabama. WEGL didn't broadcast any farther than, like, the dorms, so almost nobody heard it. But after the game it became a legend. I don't know if that's why people started rolling the corner or not.

There's a story out there that Auburn fans rolled Toomer's Oaks after Bear Bryant died.

That never happened. But I was at Auburn by then, and me and my two roommates cranked up the Allman Brothers and started drinking beer and celebrating. We were the only ones doing anything. Even then, Auburn people were driving by and saying "You guys suck." I was 22. I didn't know any better. I was an idiot.

So what's the Auburn-Alabama feud like from the inside?

It's worse than any feud you can think of, exponentially, times 12. It doesn't matter where you are. I was walking down the street in Manhattan one night and I passed by the window of a restaurant and I could see a guy in there with Alabama gear. This was when we had beat them six games in a row. So I'm banging on the glass of the restaurant in my Auburn hat, going "SIX! SIX!" while everybody was staring at me like I was a lunatic. And the best part is, the Alabama guy knew exactly what I was talking about.

Having said that, the guy with the trees (Harvey Updyke), that's a psychopath. Ninety-nine point nine percent of fans are decent. Obnoxious, but decent.

How much did you enjoy Auburn winning the national title last year?

The greatest year of my life. I knew in that Clemson game, when we were beat about three different times and still won, that it could be a special year. I looked at my wife when Oregon tied the national championship game and said, "We're gonna win. I've seen it seven or eight times this year already." I was thinking, the blimp could crash into the stands and we're gonna win the game.

Comedy. Football. Similarities?

Well, you're up there with people watching, and you've got to be fearless. You have to take the ball and say to yourself, I'm not gonna fumble. And seeing my brother play, Auburn football showed me as a kid that you could do anything. You might as well give it a shot.

-- Tommy T.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff. One of my favorite Vic Henley bits was many years ago when he lived in New York and had a local guy try to convince him to watch Ivy League football. He said, "They had tweed uniforms, patches on the left elbow, and water boys bringing Perrier on the field. A receiver breaks open and says, 'Biff, do throw the ball.' Vendors in the stand were selling white wine. Cheerleaders cheered, 'repel them, repel them! Make them relinquish the ball!' " He also recently did a bit about him and his buddies snatching the hood off a KKK member as they drove by. He's extremely funny.

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