Category Archives: Personal

In memory of Johnny Lee

Carl R. Rogers, one of the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology, once said ““What is most personal is most universal.”

Most comedians would agree. The experiences I have had that can be made funny have likely happened to many others. The audience recognizes our shared experience—and laughs.

The same is true for the sad moments in life. We all lose friends and family along the way because life is fragile. One of the reasons I decided to pursue a career in comedy is because I lost a roommate in college, and realized that life is too short not to spend it doing something you love. It’s worked out for me.

My world dimmed recently when Johnny Lee, my ex-brother-in-law, passed away. I was married to his sister for almost a decade when I started comedy, so he was there for me from the beginning. He walked his sister down the aisle when I married her. He’d often pick me up from the airport when I played a few hours from where he and his family lived. When my daughter’s stepfather passed away too young, his eulogy comforted the mourners. More recently he officiated my daughter’s wedding ceremony (one of the best days of my life).

Johnny welcomed everyone into his orbit with a hearty laugh, and he added so much positivity to those around him:, his family, friends, and probably strangers, too. I could write pages about his virtues, and I’m sorry I didn’t mention them before.

I was thinking about whether it’s more important to be remembered or missed. When someone passes away, we remember them by recalling and treasuring shared moments in the past, and we miss them by regretting their absence in the present and future.

I will always remember and miss Johnny Lee. My condolences to his vast family, which includes not just relatives (and ex-relatives), but everyone lucky enough to have known him.

The guy from Ipanema

Finding new places to explore never gets old. Earlier this month I picked up booking on a cruise ship heading through a country I’ve never visited: Brazil. If you’re thinking soccer, samba, and the Amazon (the river, not the website), you’d be right. Brazil has changed its visa restrictions for US visitors, so that processContinue Reading

New year, new plans

2019!  I like the optimism of making new year’s resolutions—a promise to yourself to make positive changes in the next twelve months. The start of the year is a great time to do a bit of personal accounting to tally up what we have, what is still to be gained, and what we can doContinue Reading

A season of thanks…and remembrance

It’s that time of year to appreciate … well, everything! I’m so thankful for the opportunity bring laughter to many corners of the USA and beyond in 2018. It’s been one of my most well-traveled and fun years. In addition to zigzagging from Alaska to Florida, Texas to Maine, and New York to California, IContinue Reading

My votes for a job well done

Sometimes “showbiz” is a lot of “ME-biz,” as in the oft-quoted adage: “It doesn’t matter what they say, as long as they’re talking about you.” Some of that getting them to talk about you requires schmoozing skills and a fair amount of ego. I’m not shy on either of those, but I have lived longContinue Reading

My fraternity family reunion

Good times can be measured in many ways. Starting a story with “remember when…” is one of my favorites, and often generates loud, familiar laughs. This weekend was a reunion for my UC Davis Chi Phi fraternity, Sigma Delta chapter. This is where I got much of my gumption to step on a comedy stageContinue Reading