Old School Americana & Nostalgia


How Andy Griffith Turned a School Bully Set-up Into His Stage Debut

How Andy Griffith Turned a School Bully Set-up Into His Stage Debut

Andy Griffith provided millions of people laughs in his lifetime, yet getting to that point proved difficult. He learned early on that getting people to giggle at his jokes or material was a goldmine for him. Griffith turned a rather dark period in his life into one that taught him a valuable lesson.

From stage work to TV screens, Griffith paved the road for a lifetime of giggles as a child. Andy Griffith learned about the power of laughter while fending off bullies. This part of his life gets some attention thanks to the Daniel de Visé book, Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show.

One of Andy Griffith’s childhood friends, J.B. Childress, remembers those times, MeTV reports. “We picked on him a little bit,” he said. “He seemed to be spoiled. Even I — I didn’t realize it was wrong to do at the time — I can remember him riding his bicycle, and I stuck out my foot and almost wrecked him.”

Andy Griffith Turns Tough Situation Around

While that moment could have been disastrous, Andy Griffith was the butt of another unfriendly situation. Notice, though, how he used this moment to his advantage. To be a school student, at that age, and have the wherewithal to change the narrative in his favor is a boss-type of move.

“He [Griffith] told a classmate named Albert McKnight, ‘I’ll get up to sing if you will,’” the story in this book states. “When the time came, Andy stood; Albert did not. Andy looked down at his classmate, saw a smirk on his face, and realized he’d been had.”

Some people might have stopped here and walked back to their chair. It was total humiliation for him. Yet, somewhere inside his soul, Andy Griffith persevered.

Still determined, he strode to the stage and stood there. He recited a poem, but Griffith also chose to talk about his situation in frank terms.

“In between the lines, I’d make little moments of my own on what I thought of the poem and the person who wrote it, and they started laughing,” Griffith said. “I found out I could get them to laugh, or listen, whenever I wanted them to. What an experience, that great sea of laughter. From that time, no one kidded me because they knew I could whip them verbally. And most important, I knew it.”

His Comedy Finds Its Way To Album

Andy Griffith was a best-selling record artist, thanks to his funny monologue, What It Was, Was Football. Using his North Carolina drawl throughout the performance, Griffith talked like a person seeing American football for the first time. That record became a white-hot hit. People clamored to get copies and sat around television sets to see him on TV shows.

By not lying down and letting the bully win, Andy Griffith also learned to deal with your enemies straight on and disarm them with humor.

From his television appearances came an offer to star in his sitcom. His first appearance as Sheriff Andy Taylor came in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show. In it, Thomas’ character, entertainer Danny Williams, gets pulled over by Sheriff Taylor for a traffic violation.

We then see Williams sitting in the Mayberry sheriff’s office, watching Taylor closely. Ratings were good for it, so, from this episode came The Andy Griffith Show, which started its eight-season run on CBS in 1960.