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WILLIAMS & REE "THE INDIAN and the WHITE GUY!"
Williams & Ree
What do you call a fair skinned Scandinavian from Mountain Home, Idaho and a Sioux Indian from Pierre, South Dakota?
The Indian and the White Guy - of course.
The Indian and the White Guy, better known as WILLIAMS & REE, share a unique ability to make people laugh even if it comes from laughing at themselves - a trait which first drew them together in 1968. Bruce Williams and Terry Ree met a Black Hills State College in Spearfish, South Dakota where they were both majoring in draft dodging. The two ended up playing together in a band, working the bars and college parties. The band, with a repertoire of 10 or 12 songs needed help filling in the time, so Bruce and Terry jumped in with the ethnic jocularity. Soon their comedy became a bigger draw than the band and The Indian and the White Guy comedy team was born.
The two have been couples since those college days and have been compared to the likes of "cotton and polyester," "bourbon and water," "peas and carrots," "Sears and Roebuck, "William and Ree."
During the late 70's WILLIAMS & REE polished their act at the famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Terry points out that "the place is sort of a comedy college and is a great place to fine tune your material and see if the bits are working or not. We probably get most of our ideas from newspapers and television. Some absurdity will spark an idea and them we'll work it into something. A testing ground like the Comedy Store is a perfect place to try things out."
For the past 26 years, the two have entertained audiences from coast to coast - sharing stages with such superstars as Garth Brooks, The Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, and Randy Travis. Their show is a lively, fast-paced mixture of comedy bits, social/political commentary and racial zings entwined with original songs. Jack Hurst of the Chicago Tribune describes their show as "a sort of ethnic-oriented 'Hee Haw' with strong dashes of 'Saturday Night Live.' Playing on their differences is a large part of the WILLIAMS & REE humor."
In addition to performing some 200 live concert dates a year, television has played a major role in the WILLIAMS & REE saga. While working on material at his home in South Dakota, fate drew Terry to the television on afternoon and a now concept for their buffoonery was born. "One day I was watching The Nashville Network (TNN) and called Bruce and said, "We have to move to Nashville. The Nashville Network needs us."
At a showcase at the NACA National Convention at the Opryland Hotel, one of TNN's executives took notice of the duo. This led to frequent guest spots on various Nashville Network programs and eventually developed into a regular guest-starring role on the popular cooking show, "Country Kitchen," with Florence Henderson in 1986. The chaos they created during their cooking segments helped increase ratings by more than 50% the first year.
Throughout 1990 and 1991, the team worked as regulars on "Hee Haw, giving them national television exposure to millions of viewers every week. The two were spotlighted in several segments of the show including a running gag with Williams posing as an Indian Chief. In all reality, Ree is a descendant of Sioux chiefs and, whenever he is at a loss for something to say on stage, he screams a blood-curdling chant right out of an old movie which signals Willians to come up with something!
"The Indian and the White Guy routine was a natural for us right form the start," says Terry Ree. "People never questioned our material or gave us any flack. I mean, I am an Indian and, in fact, we do our act at a lot of Indian conventions and before Indian groups. The truth of the matter is that we pick on everyone, no matter what their background."
Widely known to country music fans across the nation, TNN recognized the duo's ratings power and aired a special featuring the two entitled Comedy Central. The program was so well received that they were asked to shoot six more shows entitled LAFF TV with WILLIAMS & REE. Most recently, Bruce and Terry co-hosted another TNN television production, The Charlie Daniels' Talent Roundup, and added their humor to this weekly talent contest.
The majority of people who follow the career of WILLIAMS & REE realize that even though they aren't serious about much, they are serious about music. In fact, they have had nominations form the Music City News Awards not only for Comedians of the Year, but also Best Vocal Duo and in 1995, they were nominated for Best Vocal Duo by the Country Music Association. WILLIAMS & REE express their musical talents as well as their comedic ability on each of their nine album projects. Many of the comic bits have been used by local disc jockeys throughout morning and evening drive times as lead-ins to musical airplay.
"We're just 50 years out of it - we should have been vaudeville," says Terry Ree. "We have an act. It's The Indian and the White Guy. We do songs; we do comedy. Actually, I don't like to label it comedy. I just think we entertain people. Richard Pryor is a comedian. Jay Leno is a comedian. We are a variety act. We don't do jokes. We do humor and people laugh well, most people laugh."
With more than 25 years of hectic concert schedules, television and recording projects under their belts, WILLIAMS & REE continue to create a fresh, new approach to their comedy routine while continuing to hone their musical prowess.
And what do they call this frantic lifestyle? To WILLIAMS & REE, they just call it FUN!
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