Alaska's merriment master visits town, opens exhibit
An exhibit of the humorous art of Jeff Brown is featured at the Sheldon Museum through May 24.
Called Alaska’s “Minister of Merriment,” Brown has won statewide laurels for his zany creations, ranging from the “Swiss Army Ulu” to the Juneau What newspaper and Real Alaskan magazine.
He’s also a musician, magician, political satirist and radio producer.
Brown came to Alaska as a Coast Guard medic in 1975 and later worked for Juneau’s public radio and TV stations.
He took up magic when children showed more interest in it than in his guitar playing.
He may be best known for a series of 36 Alaska novelty postcards. “Record Catch” shows a seine fishing boat with a net full of phonograph records. “Gentlemen Prefer Haines,” satirizing an old underwear commercial, features men in tuxedos at the “Welcome to Haines” sign on the west side of town. Another shows the totemic orca at the Haines Police station jumping through a hoop.
During his visit here last week to open the museum exhibit, Brown headed to Valley of the Eagles golf course to make a humorous ad featuring eagles and golf.
He said he draws on research for his material, but sometimes ideas come just by cracking a beer, sitting on the couch and letting his mind wander.
The Internet, he said, has its drawbacks. “I don’t want to have a great idea and find out two million people have already done it.”
The world needs public humor, he said. “It’s a tool of social change, but of course, some of it is just bad puns.”
Brown said he inherited his sense of humor from his mother, who maintained a smile despite hardship in her life. “I feel like making people laugh is my job in life.”