T. Bubba started out as James Terryl Bechtol, a baby boomer raised in the tiny fishing village of Fontainbleau in the heart of Mississippi’s Cajun country. His grandfather, a circuit-riding Southern Baptist minister, exposed Bechtol to oral tradition. At 12, Bechtol was preaching himself at tent revivals up and down the Gulf Coast. “I broke away from that once I got to high school and discovered Jack Daniels and cheerleaders,” he says.
In the ‘80s, Bechtol moved to Washington D.C. to join the Ronald Reagan camp as a fundraising director. He worked for two years in the Reagan White House and then ran for Congress himself, in his home district in Pensacola, Florida. Today he continues to be involved in national political races and serves often as a source of humor on national radio and T.V. when he poll’s his organization, “The Bubba’s of America” for their opinions on any subject that is current in the news.
On the speaking circuit Bechtol developed a friendship with another humorist, syndicated columnist the late Lewis Grizzard. Taken with Bechtol’s bluntly-transparent view of life, Grizzard began writing about “Bubba” in his books and columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Lewis Grizzard and his manager were directly responsible for “T. Bubba’s” entry into the entertainment field.
The one-time salesman-turned-politician found himself in high demand as a motivational speaker at conferences, conventions, and industrial events. One quality made him stand out from most on the rubber-chicken-dinner circuit: Bechtol was funny. Side-splittingly funny. He has been a proud member of the National Speakers Association for 32 years, and earned the highest Professional Speaking designation in the world, the CSP, Certified Speaking Professional. He did not come into stand up comedy from comedy clubs and night clubs, but took a different route as a Professional Speaker. T. Bubba says, “I did that, because that’s where the money was!!”
“What makes people laugh has fascinated me my whole life,” he says. “I was buying comedy albums when kids my age were buying rock and country music. “There is power in humor and I love it.” Bechtol became one of the few standup comics in the nation to receive a major recording contract when he was signed to MCA Nashville. He has five comedy albums and his book “Who’s Your Bubba?” among his volume of work.
What does he consider the key to his appeal? “I can be funny without having to use words or actions others resort to,” he says. “You can repeat my little stories and opinions at work on Monday in front of anyone, even at church. Besides, I’ve had to keep my comedy clean, because my momma raised me that way. “