Bob Howell

After rummaging through some old papers and photos in a box labeled “Troy State University Stuff,” I had a rush of memories from my college days. Specifically, the days when, for whatever reason I can’t recall, I decided it would be “cool” to join an acting group. It would show the world that I was not only a journalist in the making, but that I was able to tread the boards of the university theater as well.

The first, and only, play that I had a part in was “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. I took on the fictionalized character of the Reverend Samuel Parris, a power-hungry minister during the Salem (Massachusetts) witch trials. By the time I had studied and rehearsed my lines, it was showtime. The play was apparently acceptable, thanks in large part to a very talented actor who played the lead role of John Proctor. He really brought his character to life and had many of the women in the audience swooning in their seats at various times of the play. We even took “The Crucible” on the road. Now, before you start thinking grandiose thoughts about our treatment of the play, our time on the road was limited to one area high school. The drama teacher at the high school probably gave extra credit to students who attended just to get a crowd. You never know.

Then came my writing debut.

I had been given a class assignment to write a one-act play. I chose to write a comedy. The play was titled “The Cow and Melvin Tisdale.” It chronicled the life and hard times of a small-town sheriff who lived in rural Alabama. The sheriff is allegedly killed by a character named Marvin Brackish, an itinerant shoe salesperson. He was accused of pushing a cow over onto the sheriff thus causing his untimely demise. At least that’s how it appeared.

Turns out that’s not what happened.

It seems as though the sheriff had been knocked unconscious by a drunken cow that had been drinking moonshine from the still. But, there was a happy ending to this story. The sheriff woke up in the local emergency room and explained that the last thing he remembered was being surrounded by the drunken cows staggering around the still. He had not been murdered as had been alleged. He was simply the victim of bad bovine judgment.

I must admit that in the "Cow" there were some great comedic lines delivered superbly by one of the funniest guys I had ever met while at Troy. His name is Barry Diamond and he still practices stand-up comedy. Barry moved to Hollywood after school and made appearances in several motion pictures, including "House Party" and "House Party 2," as well as "Bachelor Party."  He's been on several episodes of "Seinfeld," "Friends" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

I kept up with Barry up until several years ago when we lost touch. If you should get a chance to look him up online, please take a moment out of your day and prepare to laugh ... a lot.

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