The Duncan Banner

October 13, 2013

Bringing funny to the rodeo ring

Ted Harbin/Special to The Duncan Banner
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Keith Isley is one of the most decorated clowns in rodeo.

Now Isley will bring his brand of funny to the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for Oct. 17-19 at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center in Duncan.

“I thoroughly enjoy watching people have a good time and enjoy what I do or what I say,” said Isley, 55, now in his 20th year in ProRodeo. “Just seeing people enjoy it and have a good time. Sometimes later in the year, you’ll get home and have some letters for you and have some pictures of you that kids have drawn.

“It’s the little things that really make me feel like I’m accomplishing something.”

He has accomplished much. He’s been named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year six times, the Coors Man in the Can five times, the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year five times and PRCA Specialty Act of the Year three times. For three straight years, from 2009-11, he won the funnyman’s trifecta: Clown of the Year, Coors Man in the Can and Comedy Act of the Year.

Those are just a few pieces of the puzzle that makes Isley such a commodity. In addition to being one of the best funny men in the business, he also has some of the top acts in rodeo. He’ll bring it all with him when he arrives at the southern Oklahoma.

“I enjoy what I do, and it’s a lot of fun when you’ve got a good crowd and a good announcer,” Isley said, noting that while in Duncan, he will work with Scott Grover, who is calling the action at the Prairie Circuit finals for the sixth time. “When you see people with smiles on their faces, and then people come up to you and appreciate what you do, that makes what we do a lot more worthwhile.”

Isley sees a lot of smiles and has for much of his professional life. Though he was considered a class clown, being a comedian didn’t come easily.

“Oh, it was natural if I knew you, but if I didn’t know you, it was really hard,” he said. “When I started the comedy, that was really hard for me to get used to because I didn’t know those people watching me.”

He has since overcome his stage fright to become one of the most sought-after entertainers in the game. There’s good reason for it, too. Part of a good clown’s job is to fill any down time that could some during the event. If there’s a pause in the action, Isley knows it’s his turn to step up to the plate.

“I like to play on the crowd,” he said. “I like to have fun with people that like to have fun.”

It works, but Isley has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He loves working with animals and allowing them to steal the show. When it’s all put together, it’s an award-winning showcase that reaches so many people.

“I’ve undoubtedly been the most blessed man who’s ever bought a PRCA membership,” he said.

The fans are pretty blessed, too.