The rodeo clown at the center of last month's state fair controversy was in Jefferson City Friday for his first performance since the fair.
Tuffy Gessling told KRCG 13 he's had a lot of cancellations since the fair, when he asked the crowd if they wanted to see the president get run down by a bull. The sketch ignited a national controversy with some groups, including the NAACP, accusing Gessling of racist intentions. The White House never took a position on the issue. Gessling was banned from performing at the state fair for life.
At the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds Friday afternoon, Gessling appeared unconcerned about the upcoming rodeo. He said while making a Wal-Mart run into town earlier in the day, people came up to him and shook his hand.
"Everybody was telling us how glad they were that we were here," he said.
Amped Up Pro Bull Riding owner Isaiah Dunn said he booked Gessling months before the state fair and never considered dropping him from the schedule. He said he saw the Obama sketch in person and saw nothing wrong with it.
"It wasn't anything that hasn't been done all across the United States," Dunn said.
During the rodeo Friday night, some fans turned out wearing T-shirts reading, "I support Tuffy Gessling." Several spectators told KRCG 13 they had planned on attending the rodeo regardless, but were glad to see Gessling perform. Gessling did not include the Obama sketch in his routines but referenced it and the controversy surrounding it several times. At one point, he told the crowd, "I was going to use that joke, but someone might get offended."
Asked whether he would have done anything differently had he known what kind of reception the Obama sketch would receive, Gessling replied, "Heck, no. I wouldn't have changed a darn thing."