Monday, September 4, 2017

Atlanta Institution Wits' End Celebrates 70 Years ~ Of What We're Not Certain

Like so many Atlantans they were not born here.

They were born in 1947 in Danville Illinois, about 1/3 of the way from Champaign to Indianapolis on I-74, but before there was an I anything. History lesson for youngsters: The Interstate Expressway system did not exist in 1947. That was way before even Snapchat.

In this case 1947 isn't the birth year of people per se but a movement. Movement is not the right word. Think innovation. Think edgy. Think uproarious. Think vibe. Think Wits.

Phil Erickson was a witty young comedic talent who sought to take his show on the road far beyond Danville. Before making the leap he recruited a witty touring partner by the name of Dick Van Dyke. Together they were twice as witty. And they made witty friends.

The 2 wits formed "Eric & Van - the Merry Mutes". And tour they did, traveling the West Coast night club circuit performng pantomine & lip-synch musical skits. Hamming it up & getting their stage legs.

The Merry Mutes moved to Atlanta in 1949. A lovely & talented lady named Nancy imposed herself on the duo & refused to leave. In the mid 50s Van Dyke left town & was never heard from again.

Phil continued on stage with that lady named Nancy who refused to leave. Conveniently she was both clever & lived with him. This allowed for comedic theatrical chemistry & low overhead. The Wits' End was born. They grew & thrived. From 1955 to 1986 the Wits' End Players entertained Atlantans, US Presidents & this author.

A placard at the entrance to every Wit's End performance instructed the audience to "Bring Money". That was a cutting edge concept as most jocular talent in those days aspired to starve to death.

In 1987 Phil & Nancy's sons Steve & Jamey formed Wits' End Productions, a corporate video production company. Phil & Nancy contributed & never let their offspring forget the important "Bring Money" part of the formula. They rapidly expanded into special events & live marketing performances for the trade show environment.

Acorns do not fall far from trees. Lunacy is hereditary. It is extremely difficult to clean a severely tainted gene pool.

Today Wits' End Productions knows few bounds. They create anything & everything - from the unconventional to the downright insane. Always with a rare combination of wisdom & humor they approach their work like a day in the purpose driven sandbox.

The result is a blend of design & execution of message & experience.

Some say Wits' End Productions & their unbalanced staff should be confined to an institution. For now they are permitted to continue unrestrained as long as they do no harm to others or themselves.

They may in fact belong in an institution. Until further notice they expand on an institution of their own.

Best to call & hire them now while there is still time. Please pardon if they are celebrating some little 70 year anniversary.


Wits' End Productions
1165 Hembree Road
Roswell GA 30076

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