Browning has played Scrooge much longer than he has payed The Mayberry Deputy

John Thompson • Nov 26, 2019 at 8:02 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Feast of Joy has been an early December event for the people of Elizabethton for many years, providing a delicious meal and some outstanding Christmas music. Proceeds from the event always go to Carter County’s domestic violence shelter, The Shepherd’s Inn.

After so many years, of consistency there is going to be a big change this year, and the man who has been responsible for the Feast of Joy for these many years, Paul Gabinet, executive director of the shelter, knows it is going to be very popular.

“The phone has just been ringing with people making reservations,” Gabinet said. “We will soon be down to people on a waiting list in case someone with tickets is not able to make it.”

There is one reason for the demand for tickets: David Browning, a man very well known in the region. He has played the “Mayberry Deputy,” for many years. That is a faithful portrayal of the way Don Knotts portrayed Deputy Barney Fife on the 1960s-era “Andy Griffith Show.”

But Browning is not playing the Mayberry Deputy this time. He is going to portray Ebenezer Scrooge in a one-man performance.

This is not a new experiment for Browning.

“I have been playing Scrooge a lot longer than I have played the Mayberry Deputy,” Browning said. The first time was at a Bristol church back in 1973, Browning said.

He often played Scrooge during the holiday season after that and has his own costume. He said he played Scrooge 30 times one year.

While Browning has performed his Mayberry Deputy routine before very large crowds, he has usually performed Scrooge in more modest settings, mostly in churches.

But the man who has always found the wit and wisdom of Barney Fife can certainly find the qualities of Scrooge — character created 100 years before Barney Fife.

Reservations for the Monday, Dec. 9, event can be made by calling the venue, First Baptist Church of Elizabethton at 423-543-1931. Tickets are $20.

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