Tuesday January 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL
I was saddened today to learn of the passing of a comedian I worked with many years ago from New Orleans named John Schnauder. We only worked together a couple of times, but he remains one of my all time favorite human beings I’ve ever crossed paths with. He was a wonderful soul.
We first worked together in Jacksonville, FL in the mid ‘80s at a club called The Punch Line. It was part of a chain that started from of the original Punch Line in Atlanta, and there were about a dozen clubs throughout the Southeast during the heyday. It was a great run of well paying work.
I was booked as the opening act with John being the feature. Shirley Hemphill from the sitcom “What’s Happening” was the headliner, and the first real celebrity I had ever worked with for an entire week. She was kept in a nice hotel, and John and I shared a week in the ‘comedy condo’.
There could and should be a book written about what goes on in comedy condos, but that’s not the focus right now. All it is is an apartment where comedians stay when they’re in town to work a comedy club. It’s an investment for the club rather than spending money to keep us in hotels.
Anyway, I got to spend that whole week getting to know John and I liked him more by the day. He was in his 50s then, MUCH older than the average comedian of that day – especially one that wasn’t a headliner. He had raised a family of seven children, and decided he wanted to live out a dream and be a comedian. He was very humble, and absolutely loved everything about comedy.
Most comedians – me included – get into comedy to fill an ugly void we never were able to fill at home with our families or lack thereof. John was completely different. He was no dented can, and that’s probably what I liked about him. He was warm and friendly, and it was contagious not only to me but to audiences too. He was extremely likeable, and loaded with charisma to boot.
He billed himself as ‘The Silver Fox’ of comedy, and his New Orleans accent was up front and a big part of who he was. I’ve often said how much I can’t stand that smelly hell hole personally, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like the people who come from there. They’re extremely friendly.
John Schnauder falls into this category, and we really hit it off that week. We were able to stay in touch for a few years, but this was before the internet when that was a lot more difficult to do. I hadn’t seen him in years, but I thought of him when his beloved New Orleans Saints made it to the Super Bowl. That alone caused me to cheer for them, and when they won I smiled for John.
John’s granddaughter Rhiannon Schnauder Perry informed me of his passing, and I posted my condolences to the family via the guest book. There was a large album of photographs from his life that really touched me, as most of them were him next to his kids or grandchildren and there were smiles on everyone’s faces. His love and radiance just shined through. He was a mensch of epic proportions, and just because he never hit the big time in show business doesn’t mean he is anything less than an outstanding success and winner in the game of life. He lived his dream, but also had a loving family. To me, that’s true success. Much respect to The Silver Fox. I miss him.