Northwestern Press

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY BEVERLY SPRINGERClenRoy Geist, aka Crazy Elmer, celebrates 70 years as an entertainer this year. ClenRoy Geist and his wife, Diane, will soon celebrate 49 years of marriage. PRESS PHOTO BY BEVERLY SPRINGERClenRoy Geist, aka Crazy Elmer, celebrates 70 years as an entertainer this year. ClenRoy Geist and his wife, Diane, will soon celebrate 49 years of marriage.
Geist displays the certificate of appreciation given to him by his fans in Pillow for providing 45 years of fun in his home. Geist says “one of the best days of my life” was the day his Pillow fans threw a shindig for him. At that time he had appeared in Pillow for 60 consecutive years. Geist displays the certificate of appreciation given to him by his fans in Pillow for providing 45 years of fun in his home. Geist says “one of the best days of my life” was the day his Pillow fans threw a shindig for him. At that time he had appeared in Pillow for 60 consecutive years.
A portrait of Clyde, Geist’s best friend and fellow performer and Geist hangs in the Geist living room. A portrait of Clyde, Geist’s best friend and fellow performer and Geist hangs in the Geist living room.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY CRAZY ELMERCrazy Elmer is dressed for Christmas. PRESS PHOTO COURTESY CRAZY ELMERCrazy Elmer is dressed for Christmas.
Geist is about 15 years old when he records an album with Earl Keller and the Melody Rangers. Geist is about 15 years old when he records an album with Earl Keller and the Melody Rangers.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY CRAZY ELMERCrazy Elmer performs in 2008 accompanied by Tom Vollmer on steel guitar. PRESS PHOTO COURTESY CRAZY ELMERCrazy Elmer performs in 2008 accompanied by Tom Vollmer on steel guitar.
Geist appears both as Elmer and as himself without makeup on this 1968 album cover. Geist appears both as Elmer and as himself without makeup on this 1968 album cover.

Crazy Elmer has no plans to retire

Thursday, May 10, 2018 by BEVERLY SPRINGER Special to The Press in Local News

Entertainer celebrates 70 years performing on stage

Originally from Alburtis, ClenRoy Geist began his entertainment career at 13 by joining his father and older brother as a minstrel show singer in Longswamp.

In 1949, Geist became a member of a local country group, Earl Keller and the Melody Rangers.

When one of the end men, (literally the band members who sat at the open ends of the rows) left the group, Keller asked Geist to fill the role of the band’s comedian. Geist accepted and Elmer was born.

Asked why he uses the stage name “Elmer,” Geist explained, “[Keller chose the name, and] I just thought if he wanted to call me Elmer, God bless him.”

Geist performed with Keller’s troupe for the next 19 years. During that time he honed his comedic skills.

Much of his first material was borrowed from the group’s previous comic.

Over time, new jokes and stories based in personal experiences were added to his repertoire.

Geist also incorporated physical comedy into his act. He sometimes appeared on the stage roof or climbed in and out of trees.

One of his funniest memories was, as he recounts, “not intentional.”

During a performance at Valley View Park, he slid down the trunk of a tree but failed to notice a protruding nail.

His pants caught on the nail and he remained stuck. He twisted, turned, clowned and pattered until help and a stepladder arrived.

Geist has also experienced his share of difficulties but has always appeared as scheduled.

In 1962, Geist severely injured his hand in a car accident.

Despite the trauma, he missed only the shows that took place during his hospitalization.

His fans have reciprocated his loyalty. In response to the accident, a benefit was held in Macungie Park. More than 8,000 fans came out to demonstrate their support. Geist describes the event as “ ... another wonderful experience ... [I] didn’t know how many people knew me.”

Geist fondly remembers appearing with a variety of country music luminaries.

He greatly respects Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn because, in his words, “They were down to earth people and really impressed me.”

He also has high praise for Philadelphia’s favorite television cowgirl and performer at Ontelaunee Park, Sally Starr.

Geist describes her as “ ... one wonderful woman.”

During his long career, Geist has performed throughout much of Pennsylvania and in neighboring states.

His wife, Diane Geist commented on the venues.

“We like Alburtis Park because it’s in our backyard and it’s like the old-time parks.”

However, Geist’s favorite performance venue is in Pillow, Dauphin County, where he has appeared annually for 62 consecutive years.

According to Diane Geist, “The people put lawn chairs out at 5 a.m. when he is appearing there at night.”

In most places Geist and his band give two shows and usually end by 10 p.m. In Pillow, they stick to the original three show schedule which starts at approximately 8 p.m. and may not conclude until 1 a.m.

Geist smiles and recalls that “[Pillow} is a very small town, but it gets jammed.” This strong support brings every band with whom Geist appears back to Pillow.

After Keller’s 1968 retirement, Shorty Long and the Santa Fe Rangers incorporated Geist’s act into their show. At that time, Shorty made the decision to change Geist’s stage name to Crazy Elmer. In 1977, Geist left the Santa Fe Rangers and joined another local country band, The Outlaws. This year marks his 42nd year with The Outlaws.

Although he has cut back on his winter appearances, Geist is already booked for multiple shows during the summer season.

Crazy Elmer has appeared with several country bands, numerous country stars and as a solo act. Currently, he shares the stage with a very special musician, The Outlaws’ lead guitarist and vocalist, his grandson, Kyle Isamoyer.

Through hard work and talent, Geist has generated a loyal following. He especially delights in meeting lifelong fans who first came to see him with their grandparents. He credits his work ethic to his father who told him when he first took the stage as Elmer to “Do it right, or not at all.”

Having no plans to retire, ClenRoy Geist looks forward to his 70th summer of clowning and singing with a glint in his eye. He is once again ready to “Do it right!”