CARL HURLEY – Humorist, Emcee, and Humorous speaker
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Carl Hurley was born in 1941 in a two room cabin built by his father on a three-acre hillside farm in the Appalachian mountains of Laurel Country, Kentucky, near the Rockcastle River.
Carl Hurley came from a family of “talkers,” and he spent endless hours listening to aunts, uncles and cousins swapping yarns and stories that were richly embellished after years of telling. The idea of “Making people laugh” was fascinating but far-flung idea for the young Hurley. Little did he realize that a career in education would eventually lead to a career in public speaking and entertainment and garner him the title of “America’s Funniest Professor!”
The idea began to germinate at age eight when Hurley’s dad bought the family its first radio. The dial was set to WSM in Nashville, Tennessee, and every Saturday night young Carl listened to the Grand Ole Opry. His world opened up. “I remember listening to Minnie Pearl and Rod Brasfield, “Hurley recalls today. “They were the first people I can ever remember making people laugh. I thought “How great it would be…”
Carl Hurley’s first “audience” was at his one room country church when he was called upon to recite a Scripture verse in front of the congregation. “I walked to the edge of the pulpit and said, “Jesus fed the multitudes with three fishes and five loaves of light bread. For a minute I didn’t know why they laughed, but I knew I enjoyed it”. Carl Says.
At Mount Zion Elementary School, Carl Hurley was active in school plays and speech contests and he fondly recalls that the only award he ever won as a youngster was in a contests for would-be radio announcers.
In the fifth grade, young Carl Hurley transferred to nearby Hazel Green Elementary and High School. He proudly became a Hazel Green “Bullfrog” on the school’s very first football team. “We didn’t know much about football in the beginning,” Hurley says with a grin, “We thought a football was a basketball in the beginning,” Hurley says with a grin, “We thought a football was a basketball that laid out in the weather. I was a defensive lineman. I had to adjust to the psychological effect of looking across the line at someone called a “tiger” and knowing that I was a “bullfrog.”
At the end of this senior year in high school, Carl Hurley headed to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, and enrolled for the summer session. “Tuition was $37.50 and I had fifty dollars that I had been saving up for awhile, my dad said, “Son, you should go, you’ll have enough money left over to buy a book,” Hurley related.
To help meet college expenses, Carl Hurley worked on the school’s dairy farm. “I got up at 4 o’clock in the morning seven days a week,” he says, “to help milk the school’s herd of Holsteins. “ Hurley’s previous milking experience had been at home. He likes to recall one cow, in particular, who was cantankerous and refused to cooperate; the milked her by hand using a four-pound size lard bucket. “You couldn’t drive her through a 40-foot gate, “he says. “But she could stick her foot in the milk bucket every time. Never failed!”
In 1965, Carl Hurley received his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University and became the first member of this family to graduate from college. His studies continued and in 1971 he was awarded a doctorate in education from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
In 1972, Carl Hurley was selected by the United States Jaycees as one of the “Outstanding Young Men in America,” and Hurley seemed destined to a successful career as an educator. For eight years he was a professor at Eastern Kentucky University and coordinator of secondary education programs.
Carl Hurley’s speaking career began, quite by accident, in 1971, when he decided to “liven up” an otherwise boring school conference by telling a few jokes and stories when it came time to give his report. One of the men attending the conference, impressed by Hurley’s ability to wrap humor around a message, invited the young professor to speak for his company.
Other invitations followed. Faced with more than 200 engagements annually, Carl Hurley decided to pursue speaking and entertaining on a full-time basis. In 1982 he resigned his professorship to “wing it’ in the world of professionalism speaking and entertainment.
Today, Carl Hurley’s appearances range from stand up country comedy to convention speaking, from university lectureships and teach in-service days, to seminars and workshops for business and industry. Carl Hurley’s topics are equally diverse – from “The Nature of Human Nature” and Success is a Process” to “Serving Up Possum on the Half-Shell” and “Cornbread, Fried Taters and Collard Greens”.
Whether doing country humor pr delivering a keynote motivational message, Carl Hurley is known for his infectious laugh, twinkling of eye and wide grin and the use of humor as a carrier for his massage. “I try to encourage people to look for the humor in life,” Hurley says, “to take life seriously, but not too seriously. Humor brightens the load, makes life more interesting and more enjoyable. “The bet compliment I can receive is someone coming up to me after a speech and saying,” That was real funny and there was a good message there also.”
Carl Hurley is America’s funniest professor and receives that sort of A-plus compliment every time he speaks.
Travels from: Kentucky
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