The faces of laughter
Compton & Bennett has a ball at SW Fla.'s expense
By Charles Runnellscrunnells@news-press.com Originally posted on August 15, 2007
She was trouble right from the start.
As a kid, Betsy Bennett often staged plays in her family's Michigan basement, originals with precocious titles such as "The Devil and the Princess."
Her parents were worried. Especially when they saw her cemetery scene - the one with the neighbors' names on the tombstones. Bennett was 10 years old. She still cackles at the memory. "I freaked my parents out," Bennett says, and then she laughs some more.
Decades later, Bennett's warped sensibility fuels her work with the satirical duo Compton & Bennett.
Rick Compton, it turns out, is equally warped. Perhaps more so.
Spend any time with Compton and Bennett, and it quickly becomes obvious they love each other's company. They're having a blast - all at Southwest Florida's expense.
"We both play," says Bennett, 51. "We have a good time. We laugh.
Pick a subject, and Compton & Bennett have mocked it on-stage.
Old-lady drivers. Mocked.
Ave Maria University. Mocked.
Collier County commissioners. Oh, you better believe they're mocked.
All politicians are fair game, says Compton, 57. "Anybody with the ego to run for public office is ... troubling ... to us."
That's how former Collier commissioner Pam Mac'Kie saw it. She watched the duo perform several times in the late '90s - when it was her name in that song title.
"They're a hoot," Mac'kie says and laughs. "That song is priceless."
Most people know Compton & Bennett from plays and revues such as "How to Succeed in Naples without Really Trying" and "A Cracker at the Ritz," now playing at The English Pub in Naples.
But that's only the beginning. They've got their fingers in all sorts of pots, doing whatever sounds interesting at the moment.
They've hosted liberal radio shows. They've done TV spots. They've written a theme song for Collier County's Democratic Club.
Compton & Bennett are doing something unique in Southwest Florida, says Mark McClellan of Stage 88 theater troupe. They're doing something most people only see with national-level acts such as Mark Russell.
"This is a market that takes itself very seriously," McClellan says. "And Compton & Bennett basically take a 10-penny nail and jab at that balloon every time they do one of these shows."
People often assume they're married (they are - just not to each other). And emcees have even introduced them as a married couple. Oops.
"It's a common mistake," Compton admits.
McClellan of Stage 88 says it's almost like Compton and Bennett were destined for each other. He's shared the stage with them before, and it isn't always easy.
"They work very, very well together," he says. "And sometimes you're struggling just to keep up with them. They set the bar very high."