Just when I got rid of my Southern accent, it sucked me right back in — thanks to the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop.
After taking Wendy Liebman’s Stand-Up Comedy Boot Camp, I was able to chat with her for a moment. Telling her that I speak with several accents and work them limitedly into my speaking engagements, she excitedly said, “Do them!” And so I did. Besides my French, High British and Cockney accents, she must have been mesmerized by my South Georgia one because she said, “You must do this one.”
When I was called up on stage for Pitchapalooza, I did just that and afterwards received so many compliments for it. Many did not know it wasn’t my normal speaking style, nor had it been for my entire speaking career. I took lessons in college while majoring in broadcast journalism to rid myself from it. While all my Georgia friends were saying, “Ad-lanna,” I articulated, “At-lan-ta” — until Erma.
I’ve even started my speaking engagements with my professional sounding dialect, then reveal this story about Erma attendees encouraging me to add it, and from that point the rest of the program is in my Southern-speak. Afterwards, many from my audience tell me to stick with the Southern.
Thanks to Wendy and David Henry Sterry for the encouragement to add it into my shtick. Y’all were a big help.
— Lee St. John
Author and humorist Lee St. John is an unapologetic rogue Southern Belle, a high-jinx expert and mayhem confessor. She writes columns for The Newnan Times-Herald and the Fayette-News. Bienvenue Press recently published She’s A Keeper!: Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess, the latest book in her She’s A Keeper! series. A born-and-bred Georgia Peach, she has been married to her Southern gentleman for 35 years. This piece is part of a series of videos, blogs and social media shout-outs by “Erma Champions” during the workshop’s #25Kin25Days campaign.