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Comics' true nature comes out down on the farm

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Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013 8:50 am

Chevy Chase may not have been there.

But Bruce and Connie Zimmerman’s farm north of Battle Creek definitely could have been dubbed the “Funny Farm” on Friday.

Comedians involved in this week’s 2013 Viaero Great American Comedy Festival were treated to a visit to the Zimmerman farm Friday — lunch and then a hayrack ride to talk about pivot irrigation, crops and farming equipment.

“It’s a ball,” Bruce Zimmerman said.

During the hayrack ride, the comedians — as expected — were making wise cracks and joking around.

“Is this the tour that shows us how they make hamburger?” one asked.

Another asked, “Is this Farmville?” and “Are you King Corn?”

The Zimmermans, including son Aaron, explained pivot irrigation and the costs involved, which astonished most of those on the ride. The Zimmermans said it takes $900 per acre to grow their corn, most of which they sell to the Louis Dreyfus ethanol plant in Norfolk. Each pivot costs about $70,000 and shoots 1,300 gallons of water per minute.

Catching most off guard was the new technology used in farming. The Zimmermans have a tracking device on their irrigation system so they can check on the equipment, and turn it on and off, all through their smart phone.

“That’s so cool,” someone said.

The Zimmermans showed the group just how easy it was, too. Sitting in front of a pivot, they turned it on. As it was headed toward the hayrack, with the water spraying, one comedian asked, “Why is it rolling this way?” Another said, “This is dry cleaning only.”

With click of a finger, the water was shut off, much to the pleasure of the group.

“How did you get service out here?” one jokingly questioned the Zimmermans.

After sitting there a while, someone said, “We’re out of material; we can go.”

The next stop was the machine shed where the focus was on combines and tractors. The comedians took time to take photos in front of the shed and on equipment. Even the family dog — Truman, a Great Dane — got in on some of the action.

“Everything is king sized —\!q the dog, the tractor,” someone quipped.

Overall, the group had a fun time and have enjoyed their time in Norfolk — except, maybe, Bob Biggerstaff.

“I’m actually having a terrible time. I was in the contest, it was obviously fixed. I know how this stuff works,” Biggerstaff said sarcastically.

All joking aside, Biggerstaff said this festival is different than other ones he’s been in.

“I’ve been to other festivals and you’re just doing your shows. You just find your own things to do,” Biggerstaff said. “They have so many activities for us (here). That’s cool. It’s not like I would have walked out to a farm to see everything. It’s nice that they have stuff for us.

“Everyone seems so proud of their town, and they’re getting to show it off to us. This is fun,” he added.

Judges Rene Harte and Bert Haas said Norfolk is a very welcoming community.

“I think this festival is amazing, as far as the bonding the comedians do compared to other festivals,” Harte said. “The whole town comes together. There’s so many personal touches. It’s nice. I like it because it gets me out of the reality of my life. It’s good to get out of the big business side of it.”

Haas added, “I look forward to this week every year. This is a great festival. I think the talent is as good as I’ve seen. It’s one of the most welcoming, warming — the community.”

© 2016 The Norfolk Daily News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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