A Mystic has disappeared into the night. Of course, when I say a “Mystic,” what I am referring to is one of the wise, kind and beautiful creatures from the movie, “The Dark Crystal.” These creatures represented love and kindness, wisdom of the world in which they lived and quiet devotion to whatever it was that they were doing. At least, that is what they meant to me. And those same things were represented in my brain by the man Robert Schimmel. This is how I first saw him and its a good clip in case you don’t know him yet:
I know the phrase, “People die everyday. Lots of them.” I am sure I have even used that phrase many times and a lot of those times I certainly meant them in a very dismissive way regarding someone’s death. I am no doubt a bastard and that is just one example of how I often embody the traits of a bastard. But, today is a sad day for comedy. Many will echo this and me writing it is just an echo of people who have already said it and said it loudly.
Robert Schimmel was my brother’s favorite comedian. He was the only comedian my brother ever, ever, ever asked me to get tickets for him to a show. I have not been doing comedy for an extremely long period of time, but almost nine years is not short period, I suppose. For all of those nine years, there have been comedians at the two comedy clubs every weekend, with the exception of only a few. Nine years, fifty-two weekends in every year and one time did he ask me to do this for him. If you can do that math at home that is roughly 468 times to see comedy at one of the clubs in town. That is almost 1,000 opportunities to try to cash in my pull at the local clubs. One in a thousand.
I am not saying there were not other times he wanted to ask, but if there were, he didn’t. Robert Schimmel stands alone as the one comedian that my brother could not deny himself the urge to get me to get him tickets. To say Schimmel was 1 in a 1,000 does not do him justice. It does not even come close.
I am sitting in a packed up room of an apartment that I have rented for the last year and nine months and I am sad. I am sad in the same way that many people are sad. I look around my packed up and nearly empty room and know that it is this way because of comedy. I am 34 years old and essentially everything I own can fit into my car. Sometimes I feel like this life choice is dragging me down into some thankless gutter, but never do I think that it is not worth it. I know it is worth it because someday, if I work hard enough, believe enough, someday I may be able to get to a point where I could believe that I made it to a point that is 1/100th as good as Schimmel. That would be damned good.
For those in the know, he went through many different personal wars and survived all but the last one. And each time he came out on the other side, he went back to stand up comedy. First time I saw him, I was waiting tables at the now long gone Joker’s Comedy Cafe in Dayton, Ohio. My tables did not get very good service that weekend. This was before the smoking ban and all the shows were made to be smoke free per his request. What people in the audience didn’t know, was that the shows were that reason because of his illness. Yet, he still came to Dayton, Ohio, to tell his jokes. Dayton is or was widely considered to be a hell gig of a town. Why would someone battling for their life come do a hell gig? Because he loved it so much. Wow.
That makes me embarrassed to think about all the little shit I bitched about along the way.
I used to think that the purpose or meaning of other people’s lives was to give other people’s lives meaning. Not sure if that makes sense or not? Let me explain: whenever someone dies, especially young or before their “time,” people always say it makes them evaluate their life and not take it for granted. Seems like other lives give our lives meaning when those other lives are taken away. But, here is where I was wrong. His life may be over and I may be evaluating the gift of my own during this time and because of his death, but I will continue to be inspired by him the same way I was when he was alive. His life doesn’t give my life meaning, his life was meaning, at least to me.
I do not know what the future holds or where I will even be living 3 months from now. I do know that I will keep trying to reach a level of my craft that would make me not be embarrassed to be in a room with someone like Robert Schimmel and call myself a comedian. That day may never come, but what fun is it if I don’t keep trying. A little self doubt seems like a small obstacle in comparison to the mountains he climbed to keep telling jokes…even in Dayton, Ohio.
In “The Dark Crystal,” whenever a Mystic died, so did one of its evil counterparts, a Skeksis. So maybe, just maybe, somewhere in the world at the moment when Robert Schimmel left his planet, so did some kind of dark force of sadness. Maybe it was a Federal Reserve banker?
Here’s another great clip…enjoy! Thanks for the laughs, Robert.