Sunday March 9th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL
I’m still on a high from the big meet up with my siblings yesterday, but I’m not going to make the mistake of assuming “it’s all better now”. It’s never going to be “all better”, but what we did yesterday was an enormous leap forward and I couldn’t be any more delighted. It was an event I won’t forget, and I hope it can be built on. I really did feel a positive vibe from every one of us.
All I can do is keep my end open, and the rest can decide if they want to continue. They all said they’d like to do it again, but who knows? Putting pressure on anyone is the last thing we need so I’m going to enjoy the moment we had, and let the healing vibes flow. There’s a whole lot to do.
After dinner last night it was early enough that I could still make it to the Zanies Comedy Club at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL to see the great Ritch Shydner perform. I wasn’t aware he was in town until late this week, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see him.
Ritch is a major favorite of mine on stage and off. He’s from the generation just before me, and was one of the first true headliners I saw when I was just starting. I watched him work a bunch of times, and he was always unbelievably gracious to sit around and talk after the show. He’s one of the nicest and funniest guys I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know anyone in comedy that won’t agree.
I didn’t expect Ritch to remember me from those very early days, but we crossed paths later on a book he co-authored with another great comedian named Mark Schiff called “I Killed”. It’s the compilation of road stories submitted by comedians of all levels from the Seinfelds and Lenos to road warriors like me. I’ve got a story in the book, and it’s actually quite a popular one at that.
I had always been big fans of both Mark and Ritch, and I got to know them both through being part of their book so it was a double score in my world. They’ve both been very supportive of me and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to hang out with one of my comedy heroes. I was still in a great mood from my meeting, and I made it to the club in plenty of time to catch his late show.
As I’ve come to expect, Ritch couldn’t have been any genuinely nicer or more supportive. He’s in the highest class of standup comedy royalty, and here he was treating me like a peer. That took my mood even higher, and I didn’t think that was possible. Days like this make life worth living.
We talked at length about how flat out difficult it is to be a comedian in general, and how as we age our needs sometimes change. Ritch has three kids, and agrees the road doesn’t come with the spirit of adventure it once did. He doesn’t have the same desire just as I don’t, and it was great to have someone to talk about it with that understood. He is one of few with the same perspective.
I really enjoyed watching him work, as his act has continued to evolve just as he has. He jokes about getting older and technology, and that’s the sign of a true comic and true artist. He keeps it fresh and growing. I laughed out loud several times, and it was a real treat to hang with a master.
He co-wrote and narrated a tremendous documentary called “I Am Comic” that is an absolute must see in my opinion. Ritch is one of the greats of the modern era, and I am delighted to have been able to meet him in person. Be sure and see him live if you can. www.ritchshydner.com.
|Ritch Shydner is one of my all time favorite comedians - and also happens to be a very nice guy off stage.|
|He has appeared on Letterman and The Tonight Show with both Johnny AND Jay. How very impressive - and well deserved.|
|He also co-wrote 'I Killed' a book of comedians' road stories - of which I have one. People still ask me to sign their copy to this day!|
|He also co-wrote and narrated a brilliant documentary I recommend for fans and comedians alike. I'm telling you, the man is a Hall of Famer. I've been a fan for years, and highly recommend you check him out.|