“I am the Bingo Man, but my wife picks me up after work and the first thing she says is, ‘No Bingo Man.’ I had a Showbiz/Chuck E. Cheese Pizza in Gulfport, Mississippi for 20 years and Hurricane Katrina decided the building was a little too close to the water and wiped it out. I was a singer/songwriter and my daughter worked across the street from the Flora-Bama in a liquor store. Joe Gilchrist asked me to work in the kitchen. They started Bingo at the Flora-Bama and I did it for two weeks when the regular guy went on vacation. I became the Bingo Man and have been doing this for seven years. There are days where it feels like getting up and going to work but as soon as I get out here I become the character and it is fun until the end of the day.
Every place I have ever been comes out in my accent and whatever I think is funny comes out in Bingo Man. If something comes out funny once, it becomes a part of the act, if I can remember it. There is a gag for some numbers and the rest grows from that. I fly off the seat of my head.
I play a little set of my own before Bingo starts. The first game I hand out the cards and make a few jokes and they understand this is not your mother’s bingo. There is still a little shock from church ladies.
I believe in love and laughter. That is my agenda. It works in the middle of the summer when we have 150 people, most 12 and younger, and I am by far the oldest. In a few months, there will be 150 every time, but it will be snowbirds and I will be one of the youngest and it works for them, too. I don’t use four-letter words but there is a little bit of insinuation. It is about love and laughter. With what we have in life, there are a lot of people who tell me it is good to get out for three hours and do something ridiculous. Making fun of Bingo and letting things be a little ridiculous is good for all of us. I have learned to have confidence in love and laughter because it works with every person and can win most people over and pull them in.
Some have deep reasons why they can’t laugh. Or they may be an asshole and they have a right be that, too. I went to graduate school in psychology and that helps out here. I relate to some of what I see. I am Bingo Man 1-4, Monday through Friday. I am present and in the moment and connecting with each person and by the end it wears me out. But each day I have been lifted up just as much by the people playing Bingo. I need the love and laughter as much as they do.”