Monday, March 12, 2007

a comedy tragedy

Sometimes a death can bring people together. At every funeral I've been to, somebody says that it's great to see you again but that they're sorry it has to be under these circumstances. Somebody else will say that the only time we ever get together anymore is at funerals and weddings. I hadn't talked with my friend Charlie Reinke in a long time. The sad news of Richard Jeni's death prompted me to call Charlie today.

Charlie is a comedy writer in Burbank. We met because our daughters went to grammar school together. As our families became good friends, our wives would often make plans for the four of us. Charlie and I would occasionally go to TV show tapings using tickets that either he or I had gotten through a business contact. I've mentioned before that Charlie's wife, Anja, is running for city council.

I called Charlie to talk about Richard Jeni. We had taken our wives to see Richard perform at the Ice House and had gone backstage to say hi. Charlie and I were in the audience for a taping of Richard's UPN sitcom, "Platypus Man." Charlie told me tonight how Richard would sometimes make a guest appearance in the comedy writing class that Charlie took when he was getting started in the business. Two of the first three jokes he sold were to a TV show called "Caroline's Comedy Hour" and were delivered by Richard Jeni.

I am a fan of Richard's comedy. I've watched his HBO specials and I booked him to appear on KLOS several times. The program director once asked me to find a comedian to entertain between sets at a classic rock concert the station was hosting at the Glen Helen Pavilion in San Bernardino. I arranged for Richard Jeni to do it but it didn't go well. The road crew for the next band refused to stop soundchecking the drums during Jeni's performance. As Richard valiantly tried to get laughs, you could hear the roadie slowly pounding on each drum in the kit and monotonously saying "one, one, one" then "two, two, two" and so on into a microphone.

Charlie hopes to go to memorial service for Richard. He suggested that I check a blog entry from the wife of comedy writer T. Sean Shannon on her MySpace page. On "The View" this morning, the women mentioned a blog posting about Richard written by Elayne Boosler. It will be the last thing I read before bed tonight.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Anonymous Betsy said...

Ah, Frank. I was so sad about Richard Jeni as well. I always loved his comedy, and I got to interview him at the "Mask" junket, so that was special. Tears of a clown, indeed.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home