I first met David Browning at a 2001 media event at the Governor’s Mansion in Nashville. Several cast members were on hand for a meet and greet, but the focal point of energy was compliments of the Mayberry Deputy who kept the ball rolling and the laughter flowing with his Mayberry antics.
KED How long have you been a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show”?
David Browning Well, let’s see. The show came on the air in 1960 so 45 years. Actually, I was a fan of the performances more than the show itself. I think that when you are born with a desire to perform you actually find interesting things in the people you watch and we know there were intersting people on tags.
KED Who is your favorite character on the show?
I want to say Floyd but since I base my character on Barney, I’d better say Barney. I also would say that Barney is my favorite simply because of Don Knotts. He totally embodied the character so you never saw anything but that. I have seen others do it. For instance, Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain.
KED Which episode is your favorite?
David Browning That’s a tough one. I love them all. Anything with Floyd I find extremely funny and well done. I guess if I had to pick one it would be “The Man in A Hurry”. I think it shows a great lesson in how, no matter what the situation of someone else, our actions can give them new direction and hope.
KED When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?
David Browning I found the stage as a junior in high school and nothing else appealed to me as much since. I have managed a mall, had an auto parts sales route, was a program director for parks and recreation and a media specialist for a distributor and never found myself very far from the performance arena. Everything always came back to my ability to entertain folks.
KED When did you begin impersonating Barney?
David Browning The first time I did the character I had been invited by Tim White (the VW Boys) to do it with the Dillards in 1989. I was hesitant but did it at his request. It did come sort of natural. I think Tim saw a local commercial that I had shot for a photo developing place and thought I had some of the mannerisms of Barney. You know, the smug sniff and bug eyes.
What a lot of people don’t know is that I have performed or directed over 150 stage productions and played everything from Scrooge, Abe Lincoln, the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, Felix Unger in the “Odd Couple” and many other characters. When you have been involved in that much stage work it becomes a real calling and you begin to look for the most outstanding characteristics of each role and play those up. I have acted as a fox, br’er rabbit, a dragon, an old oak tree that talks and so forth. Working in the theatre allows you to use all of your imagination in creating each role you take. I also performed in a vaudeville review for about five years doing routines like “Who’s on First,” “Niagra Falls,” and the “Dragnet” bit that Jack Webb and Johnny Carson did years ago. That experience gave me a keen insight into the standup type of performance. I believe all of my experiences led me to doing what I do now. My only question at this point in my life is what is the Mayberry Deputy preparing me for.
KED Did you grow up in church?
David Browning I grew up attending First Christian Church in Bristol Virginia. It was within walking distance of my house and me and a buddy of mine were very active there. I remember that my mother and dad didn’t actually go to church regularly partly because my dad was custodian of the biggest Methodist church in town, so when we went with him it was usually to work at a dinner or mow the lawn. My mother actually decided to be baptized when I asked about it when I was about nine years old. We both went to First Christian and were baptized there.
We are currently members of Central Presbyterian Church in Bristol and have been active there. The minister is a real scholar and huge Mayberry fan.
KED What values, morals, etc. do you think can be learned from “The Andy Griffith Show”?
David Browning I simply believe the show was based on the golden rule. I also think that Andy Griffith exemplified how I would like to be perceived. Someone who really enjoys each day and tries to lift others up.
KED Any final comments you would like to share?
David Browning First, that I consider it a privilege to do what I do. And to do it for a living is almost unbelievable. I tell folks all the time to keep an eye on me if they have any doubts about God working in someone’s life. Each time I step out to do the Mayberry Deputy I have a personal friend right by my side encouraging me and giving me just the right things to say and do.
David Browning performs at events all around the country. You can find out if the Mayberry Deputy… or Scrooge for that matter, will be at an event near you by checking our Mayberry Events Calendar
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