"Bert and I" creator recalls 54 years of Maine humor

5:10 PM, Aug 22, 2012   |    comments
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WINTER HARBOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Young people may have never heard of it, but fifty years ago "Bert and I" were household names in New England.  

Created by two Yale University students in 1958,  "Bert and I" was unique - quirky, sometimes lengthy stores, sometimes with snappy punch lines, all told in thick Down East accents.  

Marshall Dodge and Bob Bryan were the brains and talent behind "Bert and I", and recorded four record albums, which Bryan says didn't make him rich, but sold enough to help pay for his children's education. 

Dodge died in 1982 in a hit-and-run accident in Hawaii.  But Bryan has carried on their legacy, with the help of Maine humorist Tim Sample.

They recorded an album, "How To Talk Like A Mainer" in 1982, which is still sold.  Tuesday evening in Winter Harbor, the two men performed short selections from that album, along with other comedy material, for a packed audience at the SERC Center, an environment education program based at Schoodic Point.

Bryan, who is now 80 years old, has spent most of his working life as a minister for remote villages in northern Quebec. To reach those settlements, Bryan became a bush pilot, and says he's logged 19,500 hours in the pilot's seat of small float and ski planes.

Bryan has continued to perform "Bert and I" occasionally, mostly with Sample. Both men say they believe the appeal of the stories and of Maine humor in general is timeless.  Many of the old "Bert and I" routines, says Bryant, featured Mainers getting the best of the tourists or rusticators. Bryan says the native Mainers he has known may not be highly educated but are often far smarter than those with big college degrees.  He says those are some of the ideas "Bert and I" tried to convey in the jokes and stories.

Sample also says "Bert and I"  opened the door for his own career and those of many number other Maine story tellers.

On Tuesday, Bryan also signed paperwork for a new marketing agreement with a business being called "Bert and I Company of Maine". The owners of that business say they will focus on ways to create new material for the Bert and I brands, including stage shows that will involve Tim Sample and others, and plans for a "Bert and I" movie. 

David Lyman, former owner of the Maine Film & Video Workshops in Camden, says he's working with TV and movie industry professionals to develop the concept, script and funding for the movie.  Lyman says he envisions a Maine version of successful TV  series like "Northern Exposure" and "Doc Martin", which were both set in small, rural communities with a host of quirky characters.



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