Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Too personal for Facebook

Jimmy Gunn, who directed the Little Shop of Horrors I was in, died recently, and there was a FB announcement that there would be a memorial stand-up comedy show at Rooster T. Feathers, a comedy club he was a regular at. I went to catch his act during a night off in the rehearsal schedule, and was appalled.

Jimmy, who in real life was mentally fully functional, and in fact one of the sharper wits among theater folk, chose to be a screechy-voiced, nervous boy with the intellectual level of a 4-year-old. What we used to call a retard.

The audience thought it was hilarious.

I thought it was obscene.


The reason I didn't think his act was funny is this:

I had a cousin who was born mentally impaired. He was about 10 years younger than me. He ran away from whatever facility in NY he had been sent to, and found his way to LA. The last contact I had with him, he had sent me a cassette tape. He had either written to me or phoned to ask if he could send it, and I said yes. He had decided he could make it as a stand-up comedian in LA, and the tape was of one of his routines. It was about an hour of ranting, in his thick Brooklyn accent, rambling and often incoherent. It was painful to listen to.

Soon after I heard the tape, he died homeless on the streets of LA.

Jimmy Gunn's performance sounded a lot like my cousin's. And his mannerisms were similar.

So I posted on FB that I would not be going to the stand-up memorial for Jimmy, because I found his comedy routine offensive.

I made the mistake of tagging Jimmy, and making the post public. Very soon there were a couple of young women I did not know ranting about how evil I was for speaking ill of the dead. Of their hero. One said she thought I was mocking her grief. I responded that I had mocked no one, if she felt mocked she must be feeling guilty about finding Jimmy's performances funny.

And then I thought about it for a bit, deleted their posts, because it is my timeline, and I changed Jimmy's name from a tag to just plain text, and made the post friends-only.

Comedy was only a tiny part of Jimmy's life. Mostly he was a drama teacher at the Jewish high school, and an actor in community theater. Which is where I met him in 1984 when he was probably still in high school, as the youngest adult cast member of a production of Annie. His name then was Jim Orne.

I might have gone to a celebration of his life, but there is no way I will attend a stand-up comedy event in his memory.

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