I have always had the desire to make people laugh. I love laughing. I love people who can make me laugh.
Tim Conway was the first entertainer that I remember emulating. On The Carol Burnett Show, he often played this crazy old man character that would move and speak in super slow motion. One episode he fell down the stairs...slowly...super slowly.
I cracked up for the entire accident! Up to that point in my life, it may have been the funniest thing I'd ever seen.
So, for years to come, I would welcome visitors to our family’s home by falling down the stairs to greet them. It may have been the cause of the lower back problems that I experience today, but it was well worth it.
As I grew older - and could stay up later - I became a regular viewer of Late Night. During my high-school years, it was on my "won't miss" list. I loved David Letterman's dry, sarcastic, quick wit. I not only found it hilarious, but I could relate to it.
I was also very drawn to his use of video and the over all quirkiness of the show. Although Late Night had a template it followed, you just were never quite sure what would happen on any given night.
In 1999, I saw the movie Mystery Men. I ended up seeing it three times in the theatres, which no other movie has ever caused me to do. It quickly became my all-time favourite and remains there today.
That movie also marked the first time I had witnessed Ben Stiller, doing what he does best: Being frustrated and angry with all the stupidness around him. Mr. Furious…awesome!
By the time I had discovered his short-lived, but brilliant, sketch comedy show, The Ben Stiller Show (‘92-93), I was already a huge fan of his work. I’ve seen almost every movie he has played a role in and most of them sit very high on my favourite movie list.
Although, he hasn’t been around nearly as long as Conway, Letterman and others, I consider him very much to be one of my comedy influences. In fact, I have often said that Ben Stiller is the 2nd funniest person I have ever come across.
Which quite naturally brings me to who holds that number one spot.
Now, I’m not a star-struck individual, so I don’t spend a whole lot of time gushing over celebrities. There are many entertainers that I enjoy and respect immensely, but there is only ONE that I decided, some time ago, that I must see "live on stage" before he dies.
He is Bob Newhart.
His dry satirical wit, with the trademark stammer, is legendary. His one sided phone conversations are simply remarkable.
Since his stand-up comedy career was at its peak in the 60’s - well before I was born - I knew him as an actor before I knew him as a stand-up comedian.
In the 80’s, his sitcom, Newhart was a regular part of my television diet. I was later introduced to his 70’s sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show and then to his classic 60’s comedy album, The Button-Down Mind.
I followed Newhart’s career backwards. And, with each step back, I grew to admire Bob Newhart’s comic genius more and more.
He has just turned 80, and is one of the last remaining members of the golden age of comedy.
As my admiration increased, I quickly realized that so was his age. This man was not going to be around for ever…and guys like him don’t come around very often.
Over the last few years, his calendar has become very limited, and although I have tried to get to one of the few shows he does do, the dates just haven’t jived with my calendar.
Thanks to my parents, I have finally secured two tickets to see Bob Newhart Live! I am absolutely ecstatic. It truly is a once in a life-time experience. It is a chance to see a living legend.
Friday, December 4, 2009 at Roy Thompson Hall. Two floor seats, 16 rows back.
I can’t truly explain how excited I am. I really do expect this to be one of those rare inspirational moments that I’ll always look back to as I pursue my own dream of being a comedian.
There is only one thing that would make seeing my comic idol more special...I've got one month to somehow convince Ben Stiller to join me.
I’ve got an extra ticket, Ben. Call me.
*Go to PART 2 of the saga. Read my open letter to Ben Stiller here
Have a good one,