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The Death Of Comedy

July 22, 2014

I took a wrong turn on my way home from work yesterday. It’s not a big deal. I live in a small town that is smack up against other small towns. I was driving through Lehi, UT and trying to find a back way to my house in Pleasant Grove.

I ended up turning down Memory Lane instead.

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(Photo Credit: irunoninsulin.com)

I found myself at the Lehi cemetery. I don’t regularly visit cemeteries and there are ones closer to my house. But, I have a friend buried in Lehi.

Clint McKell was larger than life. A former college football player, he was about 6’5″ and resembled a large teddy bear. Clint was a stand up comedian. But, like many comics he was a broken person.

It’s a strange irony that many comics are not what you would call naturally happy or upbeat people.

We laugh at our pain.

That’s what a friend told me at Clint’s funeral.

Clint’s demons were found in drugs. A typical story really. Football injury requires pain killers. The injury heals, but by then he’s already addicted. It cost him everything. He lost his job. He lost multiple jobs. He lost his wife. He, at one point lost my friendship.

See, being young and stupid and adding drugs to the mix makes for a terrible combination. Clint was my friend, and I don’t choose friends lightly. He made a mistake. It was a terrible betrayal of trust. And it shook me to my core.

To his credit, Clint realized his mistake. He reached out to me, asked my forgiveness and wanted to get together for lunch in a week to try to repair the damage and attempt to salvage our friendship.

Two days later he was dead.

He died before I could forgive him.

He passed away in the winter. There was snow on the ground although the day was bright. Comics deal with pain in what looks to the rest of world like a callous, hard hearted manner. They make jokes.

Clint was never a hack until his death?

What do you mean?

Well, overweight comic dies of a drug overdose? It’s been done a million times.

Someone brought a bottle of ginger and dropped it into his grave. His nickname was “The Big Ginger” for his bright red hair, a trait he got from his mother. His death was almost more than she could bear.

As I made the turn to head East around the cemetery towards Pleasant Grove, I thought about all of this and more. The cliches; don’t forget to tell them you love them, you never know when it’s your turn to go, forgive the past.

There is no witty, clever tie-in to computers or business in today’s post. No second story that I’ll attempt to weave into the first story to illustrate a shared point.

I did eventually manage to work through my grief and anger. It’s useless bearing a grudge against the dead after all. I hope he found peace in that eternal slumber.

Today’s post was simply because I took a wrong turn on my way home from work and found myself driving down Memory Lane.

Here is a clip of Clint performing comedy recorded just a couple weeks before he died.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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