Cajun Comic Relief Hall of Fame
Cajun Comic Relief is proud to be the home of the Cajun Comic Relief Hall of Fame. We are pleased to salute the following performers who have helped make Cajun Comic Relief such a success over the years and congratulate them on their selection as inaugural members of the Hall of Fame:
Johnny Hoffman A longtime campus engineer at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Johnny retired from what he loved to call “Harvard on the Bayou” in the mid-1990’s and then traveled around the country cracking jokes and amusing audiences. We have all heard Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes. Well, the two central characters in Johnny’s routine were Uncle Noon and his wife, Aunt Mess. Uncle Noon was the chronically unemployed fellow from Thibodaux who said that although hard work never killed anyone, “You ain’t never heard of anyone resting to death either!”
The Conque brothers from Carencro, Marc and Murray, and Murray’s son Lance performed together for many years as a comedy and musical trio aptly named The Conque Brothers. They were mainstays of Cajun Comic Relief in the early days, performing in each of the first five shows from 1992-1996. When the trio disbanded, Murray continued as a solo act. Brother Marc made a career in Christian music, and son Lance has distinguished himself as a musician and composer based in Branson, Missouri, where Murray now lives as well.
Ralph Begnaud was personally responsible for a rise in the popularity and sales of red tennis shoes. And also for the making the word “kee-yaw” a household term in Acadiana. Ralph’s love for his Louisiana heritage and culture was never more evident than when he was on stage. He was fond of saying, “I don’t laugh at Cajun people, I laugh with them, and there is a difference, and we have fun with it.” In 1987, Ralph became one of the earliest winners in the International Cajun Joke Telling Contest in Opelousas. And, he was among the first comedians to accept the invitation to perform as part of Cajun Comic Relief. Unfortunately, Ralph passed away on October 7, 2000, at the age of 51.
Joseph Dave Petitjean, Jr., better known as Dave, was an actor, motivational speaker, and Cajun humorist. Born in 1928 in Rayne, Louisiana, he attended college at Louisiana State University at the age of 16, before joining the United States Navy and serving aboard the USS Estes command ship during World War II. After the war, Dave came back closer to home and studied agriculture at Southwest Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). He graduated and worked for a local chemical company, from which he retired 25 years later. He then worked for an insurance company until retiring in 2000. It was during his years working for these companies that he began performing. His acting credits include appearances in 14 movies and television series, including the films Belizaire the Cajun, The Big Easy, Angel Heart and the television series In the Heat of the Night. He also recorded three compact discs and made nearly 50 motivational speaking engagements across the United States.
Allen Joseph “A.J.” Smith, Jr. was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. He has a technical degree in petroleum drafting and is a piping designer. More importantly for us, he enjoys telling stories and jokes and has done so for over 30 years in comedy clubs, on cruise ships, and at festivals throughout the U.S. A.J. first became interested in the craft of storytelling as a young child listening to his parents, friends, and recordings of Bud Fletcher and Justin Wilson. He is the co-author of Cajun Humor and in 1991 won the International Cajun Joke Telling Contest.
In 2018, we look forward to inducting Kent Gonsoulin as the newest member of the Cajun Comedians Hall of Fame as part of Cajun Comic Relief XXVI.