Local humorist provides comic relief

By Beth A. Birmingham | Sep 11, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Big Ben & Stanley

Thomaston — Ben Perry of Thomaston, a retired Navy chief petty officer, has retired three times, but believes he has found his niche -- designing humorous novelties.

You could say "it" all started when he was returning from Boston Naval Shipyard in 1973. Perry was home, thinking about life, and all of a sudden he came up with his first novelty -- "IT" in a nutshell -- really, the word "it" typed on a piece of paper and placed inside half of a walnut shell.

Then, the ideas just kept coming.

Next was "STOOL Sample" -- a miniature wooden stool inside a bottle resembling a urine sample container. Probably one of the most talked-about novelties.

"The fun of that one is, you take it into your doctor's office to the receptionist and say 'My doctor asked me to bring in a stool sample,'" Perry said. "They just crack right up. Most of the doctors still have them on their desks."

After that, he'd design new ones and ask his wife Mary's opinion. To date, more than 40 of his humorous novelties have been approved and captured, at the suggestion of members of the Rockland Historical Society, and preserved in a book that has recently been published, called "Lime City Humor."

Perry also translates his offbeat humor to the stage with his sidekick, Stanley.

Mary said it all started when he was a courier for a local establishment and would set Stanley in the passenger's seat with a can of beer in his hand.

"When he'd come to a stop sign, Ben would use a line attached to Stanley's arm and raise it up -- along with the beer," she said, adding that luckily the pair have never been pulled over.

"Big Ben & Stanley" have performed at the Strand Theatre, Watts Hall, Bartlett Woods, the Sail, Power & Steam Museum, Quarry Hill, the Rockland Public Library and elsewhere. Their routine lasts about an hour.

Stanley's character was formed from an old rubber mask and a small inflatable ball.

"That's ugly," Perry thought, then got some small clothes and made arms and legs out of paper towel rolls -- and set him up -- like a little boy. He even dresses similar to his sidekick.

"Stanley is the true ventriloquist ... his mouth never moves, but you hear him speak," Perry laughed.

"I've got pages of jokes," he said ... including the blonde jokes.

Usually his humorous novelties are on display during his act as well.

"Some people get them, and some don't ... even after explanation," Mary said.

Being married to Ben for more than 50 years has provided much entertainment for Mary as well. "He's always outside or in the basement coming up with new 'novelties,'" she said.

"The sad thing is, it's rubbing off on our children," Mary said. "They bring new ideas to the table all the time."

"That's all he wants to do, is make people smile ... and make them happy," she added.

Copies of Perry's book can be purchased at Rockland Historical Society, South End Grocery or by contacting Perry directly at 354-0582.

Big Ben & Stanley next perform Sept. 26 at Rockland Public Library, where Perry will also do a talk and book signing between 2 and 3:30 p.m.

Perry will be at a post card show at the Rockland Congregational Church Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be performing at Bartlett Woods Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. Other performances will take place at Knox Center for Long-Term Care and Quarry Hill. Dates and times to be announced.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Local humorist provides comic relief
The humorous novelty that started "IT" all -- so to speak -- for Ben Perry. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
One of Ben Perry's most popular humorous novelty -- "Stool Sample." (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Ben Perry poses with his book, "Lime City Humor," hot off the press. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 12, 2019 15:48

Well done Ben! You never cease to amaze me!



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