The annual Comfort, Texas, production may not be Broadway, but the town is as proud of the variety show as any Tony Award-winning cast.
For more than 60 years, residents of the town of 2,358 have presented the annual Comfort Little Theatre to the crowds who make their way five miles down the winding country road to the Waring Fire Hall. The play is held the last two weekends in April.
“People will arrange their plans or vacation just to be here,” says Max Sanson, a longtime Comfort resident.
The hilarious variety show of skits, parodies, music, singing, and dancing about life in Comfort includes comedy sketches poking fun at the locals. No one is immune from good-natured teasing in a production that gives even the actors, producers, and the director funny titles.
“We always say we’re equal opportunity and we’ll offend everyone,” says “non-director” Judi Youngers.
One popular spoof featured a local banker providing customer services out of a trailer until the bank building could be constructed. The Fly by Night Bank or Paul’s Suburban Bank on Wheels starred bank President Paul Urban as himself.
Last year’s production featured a Western theme called Yippee To Yo’ Momma Down or Shoot Low, Sheriff, They’re Ridin’ Shetlands. This year’s production will be a spoof of current events and the news called KRRAP out of Warrington Welfare Comfort. It will also feature new acts such as Big Girl Aerobics.
As showtime nears, the audience finds seats at the long picnic tables covered with red checkered table cloths—a setup that adds to the aura of a town that’s very close-knit.
“I’d describe it as the town spoof variety show,” says Gael Montana, the owner of the only barbershop in town.
You might say Montana is the show’s stalwart personality, having performed for 21 years. Her sidekick and best friend, Mick Conover, put together one of the most popular annual acts, MRYT and MAUVE, starring Conover and Montana as “trailer house divas.”
The two have the audience in an uproar with jokes, gossip, and anecdotes about their trailer house neighbors and other Comfort residents. They walk on stage costumed in thongs, ruffles, sequins—you name it—a mismatch of clothes along with unruly hairdos that remind some of an era they’d probably like to forget.
“We’re opinionated old ladies, and we feel we’re licensed to say whatever we want,” Conover says of the characters. “Everyone likes to be around us because we know the latest in town—but some people run from us.”
Many skits reflect the German heritage of the town whose early settlers wanted to call their new home “Gemuetlichkeit,” a word that connotes in German a sense of tranquility, serenity, peace, and comfort.
German immigrants established Comfort in 1854. The Kendall County community sits on the hills and valleys of some of the most beautiful Texas meadows in the Hill Country.
Historic buildings dating as far back as the 1800s dot the one main street of downtown. The town claims the most original 19th-century business district in Texas, with seven surviving buildings designed by famed architect Alfred Giles.
Montana says the community’s reputation for lending a helping hand when it’s needed is behind the annual show. Production proceeds have gone to the volunteer fire department, the library, scholarships for high school students, funding for the senior citizen meals-on-wheels charity, the school theater—to name a few.
“The only reason I’m a part of the show is because I know all of the money goes back into the community to someone who needs it,” says Graham Warwick, a musician. “We give it all away and I think that says a lot for Comfort.”