" 'Son, you're crazy,' the sergeant said."
Once when Jerry was a boy, "Tobe Clark came by with a pie pan full of salt to take to the mules, and he said, 'I'll give a nickel to whichever of you boys can take the biggest bite.' The others took a little bit and spit it out, but by God I was going to win. I got a whole mouthful and walked to the well, got me a dipperful of water and drank my bite. It made me deathly sick, but I got the nickel."
Jerry Clower might well have developed into somebody a good deal more disorderly than he is. "If I'd been born black," he says, for instance, "I'd have made Stokely Carmichael look like a circumstance." But he is smart and success-oriented and a traditionally moral man, and in pursuits like football, sales and grass-roots civics, society has furnished him rules within which to struggle.
"I got to compete," he says. "Name off any-country humorist there is. I'm willing to go with him head-to-head. With a laugh meter. In Madison Square Garden, or anywhere." He has already come out on top in more interesting grapples than that.