You can't help but stare at his giant, yellow buckteeth. There's some black hair on his upper lip, but it's the teeth that are mesmerizing. Then the camera pans out, and you see the man's entire face. He has small hazel eyes and a black goatee. His long, curly hair falls out from beneath a crumpled blue cap.
He furrows his brow and speaks in a thick Cajun accent. "Man, I don't know what it is this time of year when it gets cool like dat, if my lip is too short or my teeth is too long. But man, my lips get chapped this time of year! POOO! They chap, chap! I need some Carmex, some Blistex or sumtin'. Some Vaseline."
Meet Poo-Poo Broussard. If you own a computer and live in southwest Louisiana, you've probably met him a few times already, maybe receiving five emails with Poo-Poo's video clips from five different people within a week. And each time, you probably watched the clips, even the ones you've already seen.
His teeth are astounding; his wisdom is confounding. "If you want to see something spectacular, watch me eat a grape popsicle," he says. His simplistic worldview has inspired local men, women and even children to proclaim that their lips are chapped -- even when they're not -- and to randomly proclaim POOO!, without reason or provocation.
Everybody has gone cuckoo for Poo-Poo.
Twenty-two-year-old Chris Deville studies marketing and film at University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Carencro native also does film work for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries and his church, Crossroads Church of Lafayette. That's also where he met James Carrier a decade ago.
Carrier is your average 34-year-old husband and father of two, an independent jeweler, born and raised in Lafayette and a graduate of Lafayette High School. His voice doesn't even sound much like Poo-Poo's. But when he puts on the pants with the patches, the shirt and clip-on tie, the cap with the wig, the teeth, the black penny loafers with no pennies and white athletic socks, there's no question that he's Poo-Poo Broussard.
Carrier laughed out loud the first time he put in his fake teeth and saw himself in the mirror. The name instantly came to him. "You can't forget the name Poo-Poo Broussard," he says. "People can relate to it. They've heard nicknames stranger than that."
With brothers Brody and Devin Lantier, Carrier was part of a comedy troupe called the Cypress Knees -- three Cajun cut-ups that performed for church functions and other social events. In December, the trio asked Deville to help them film a few skits to present at a Christmas party. The idea was to satirize the Academy Awards, as if Cajuns were running the show, with the Cypress Knees handling the emceeing of the event, as well as starring in clips parodying E.T. , Jerry Maguire, Grease and Titanic. On a cold December day, with a Canon XL1 MiniDV camcorder, the four filmed at Devin's home in Carencro. There was no script, just a mutual understanding of each scenario, allowing each character to improvise.
At one point between takes, with Carrier dressed as Poo-Poo Broussard, Deville started filming him. "When they were putting their costumes on," Deville says, "James put these big, honking teeth in. It was really cold when we shot it, and he said this whole thing about, 'My lips are chapped,' and I heard it and I think I fell out of my chair laughing so hard. I was like, 'Dude, do it on camera.' We did it a couple of times. I just wanted a 15-second clip to get people to my film page [on MySpace]."
"My lips really were chapped," Carrier says. "So I went on this thing about having chapped lips."
Deville didn't post the clip on his MySpace page until late March. He had no idea that Poo-Poo's face would launch a thousand clicks.
Chris Logan, co-host of the Hot Morning Playhouse on Hot 107.9 FM in Erath, first saw Poo-Poo Broussard and his chapped lips when the video surfaced on Planet Radio 96.5's MySpace page. "His jokes are relatable to people here in Cajun Country," Logan says. "It was just funny to us. It was his big teeth and his chapped lips, and he said it in such a pure Cajun way. If you were looking at an old guy, a Cajun dude, that's how he would have said it. He's got all of that really down pat." Logan hipped his co-host Brandon "Digital" Journet to the clip, who did some digging online, found out that Carrier was the man behind Poo-Poo, and contacted him. Since April, Poo-Poo Broussard has been calling in at least once a week to their morning radio show, updating listeners on his ongoing feud with his neighbor in the Basin, Alton Castille, and his misadventures "in town."
Every weekday morning, the station's phones ring off the hook for Poo-Poo. Listeners call to find out if he's already been on the air for the day or to find out when he's going to be on. "He's hilarious," Journet says. "He's an all-around funny guy. A goodhearted Cajun man. People really enjoy him because they can relate to his exaggerated Cajun ways. It just reaches out to everybody, and everybody's Cajun in one way, shape or form." The station is revamping its entire Web site and plans to post Poo-Poo's calls to the station online for listeners.
Poo-Poo's charisma extends far beyond the reach of local radio airwaves. In the span of a week beginning Friday, June 8, Poo-Poo jumped from the 31st most-viewed YouTube page for comedians to the No. 20 slot. Since posting the first Poo-Poo clip three months ago, the videos have been viewed more than 100,000 times.
Viewers' responses to his clips don't indicate any slack in Poo-Poo mania any time soon. One viewer comments: "Poo-Poo you are hilarious! I have [been] telling all my family and friends about you. You have potential to be on the big screen. Make more videos, you crack me up!" Another wrote: "Poo-Poo we dun watched dem all, your videos, we dun memorized all de lines, we ben sayin dem in our sleep, you be dancin in our heds like suga plum farys. whens you gonna make some more dat????"
Poo-Poo's timing and dialect have struck a chord. While countless other efforts have disastrously tried to capture the Cajun language (think Adam Sandler's The Waterboy), none have matched Poo-Poo's dead-on timing, perfect-pitch dialect, and peculiar logic.
"A lot of people tell me, 'Man, I have an uncle or somebody who talks just like that,'" Carrier says. "I doubt that anyone has any relatives that look that way, I hope not, but they can relate to some of the stories and the coonass wisdom that people use. But what's funny is the people from out of state, that aren't from here, still relate to it. I'm not sure how that works. I'm surprised that some of the people understand the Cajun accent. Maybe the humor transcends all that. It works. I can't explain it, but it works."
It's worked so well that Carrier and Deville keep bumping into the crowd-pleaser they've created.
"I'll be at school, sitting in an auditorium class and you hear two or three people quote it," Deville says. "I keep telling them that I shot that, but they don't believe me. So I send them to the page, and then they see my picture. Sometimes you have no idea who a person is, and they come up to you and say they saw your clip. We never expected for it to just snowball like it did."
Requests for more clips of Poo-Poo led Deville and Carrier to post scenes from their Titanic and E.T. spoofs. Then a third round of clips followed, known as PooPooisms, where Poo-Poo pontificates while relaxing in front of a shed.
Despite all of Poo-Poo's newfound success, Carrier has only been recognized out of costume a few times, including at a UL baseball game, where one guy asked him, "You aren't the chapped lips guy, are you?" Recently he was at Chick-fil-A in a mall when a young girl behind the counter recognized him as Poo-Poo Broussard.
Sometimes even when he tells people that he's Poo-Poo, they don't believe him. "It's funny to be in public sometimes and you hear people talking about it," Carrier says. "I kind of get a kick out of that." A teenage neighbor remarked that he had heard Poo-Poo on the radio and when Carrier said that it was him, the kid wasn't buying it. In Church Point one afternoon, when he was dressed in the full Poo-Poo attire, one man implied he was a Poo-Poo impostor.
And although Poo-Poo's star is shining brightly on the Internet, Carrier is intentionally trying to limit the character's public exposure. He's been asked to do commercials for 10 different companies (including a phone directory), but hasn't taken up any offers yet. "This happened so fast I'm just trying to find out from people what you get paid for this," he says. "I have no clue. I'm just winging this."
Carrier's playing it all by ear and trying to juggle his newfound notoriety. "This is kind of taking over my life, taking on a life of its own," he says. "I'm kind of glad that only my close friends know that it's me. I just like that the character is larger than life. Nobody's seen him in person too much; it's just on film. But yeah, it is overwhelming sometimes, but it's fun. This is why I did it. I love making people laugh. If I say something and make people laugh, that does it for me."
A month ago, he did make a rare appearance at a local office. A man called him to surprise his co-workers, who were constantly making cracks about Poo-Poo and chapped lips. "When I walked in there, it was so surreal," Carrier says. "These guys were generally starstruck by Poo-Poo Broussard. I really felt weird. It was like I was Tom Cruise walking in there. They all wanted to take pictures." After taking a picture, one employee pointed to a framed picture in a chair and said he had taken it off the wall to replace it with his picture with Poo-Poo. "It was a picture of him shaking hands with George Bush. He said, 'Forget George Bush. I got a picture with Poo-Poo Broussard.' These were oilfield-type guys. These were men's men, so that made it even more weird."
The Poo-Poo appeal stretches far beyond Acadiana. Writers from Krotz Springs, New Orleans and Las Vegas have contacted Carrier and Deville offering to write material for Poo-Poo. When the duo went to try to purchase the domain name for poopoobroussard.com, they found that a California entity had already beaten them to it, and they had to settle for poopoobroussard.net. "That's when I kind of sat back and thought, wow," Carrier says. "If somebody around here would have done it, I could have understood it. But it was someone in California. I just sat back and laughed. This thing really is nationwide."
Carrier laughs out loud. "Poo-Poo is an international player!"
Capitalizing on his new status, Poo-Poo is peddling his own line of T-shirts from his Web site, with sayings like "Poo-Poo is ma Homeboy." And that's just the beginning. "We're going to make it into a business," Carrier says. "We're going to ride Poo-Poo as long as we can." There are plans to market Poo-Poo on cozies, cell phone ring tones, a calendar and even Mardi Gras beads. "I get people asking, 'How can I get some Poo-Poo pants?'" Carrier says. "I'm thinking, man, I just got my sister to sew some handkerchiefs on it."
And of course there are plans for a DVD, but details aren't finalized. The duo is looking for funding to produce a short film for a DVD that could incorporate all of the clips that have been posted to the Internet, as well as a short film about Poo-Poo and his exploits. They also want to send spoof commercials to the ChapStick, Carmex, Vaseline and Blistex companies. And while they're at it, they want to produce sketches to submit to Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Carrier can clearly envision Poo-Poo Broussard on a national -- even an international -- scale. He wonders aloud what kind of legacy Poo-Poo will leave behind: "Can Poo-Poo change the world? He does have a lot of wisdom, that wise old sage. Maybe he can."
- Terri Fensel
"People really enjoy him because they can relate to his exaggerated Cajun ways. It just reaches out to everybody, and everybody's Cajun in one way, shape or form."
Brandon "Digital" Journet, co-host of Hot Morning Playhouse on 107.9 FM in Erath