(Ed. Note: Frank Pace – The Mook – produced Don Rickles series, DADDY DEAREST. Frank didn’t write this blog, but he could have.)
,Don Rickles has been gone for exactly 6 years. He made it to the age of 90, and for about 65 of those years, Don Rickles made people laugh…and laugh hard.
Not all people found Don funny, and that’s fine. If he wasn’t your cup of tea, or if he made you wince at his occasionally over-the-line ethnic jokes, which today might have had him cancelled before he’d even have a career. If he did that, well, to me, that’s part of the bargain.
When you are an insult comedian, (the best there ever was), your comedy plays on racial stereotypes, class, and outrage. It’s just part of the gig.
If you can insult the President of the United States, as he once did, you should have the right to mock and insult anybody…if laughter is your intention. And that was all he ever wanted …the laughs…almost at any cost. Sometimes, he had a desperation to make you laugh.
He was, in fact, something close to a shock comedian, but never, not once, did he intentionally hurt anyone with his humor…not knowingly anyway.
Look, Don Rickles starred in a time when people could laugh at themselves and each other with his “insult all comers” career.
Did he cross the line of good taste sometimes? Sure, he did.
The fact that he couldn’t get away with it now saddens me, and tells me that as a nation and people if we can no longer laugh at ourselves and WITH each other, we simply aren’t as evolved as we should be.
Comedy owes no one an explanation or an apology.
It either makes you laugh or it doesn’t…but when people have to look at each other before they can laugh at something…we’ve lost not just an art form…we’ve lost something more profound.
A joyful, free moment to mock our humanity and a willingness to put away our differences and just laugh without inhibition.
That seems to have gone away in this country. That’s too bad. People aren’t laughing as much, I feel.
Many of us would rather feel offended than take a joke and laugh at our absurd, old stereotypes and our human frailties..
This man is sorely missed. Not just by me, but by millions.
Because even with his borderline offensive material, which today would be magnified…it’s not nearly as offensive as what is happening in our country…not just politics, but human discourse and the willingness for people to drop their grudge and just laugh for as long as this guy was on stage with a microphone.
Some might say this generation wouldn’t be able to laugh at Don Rickles ..and maybe they are right, but I think it’s their loss…because laughter isn’t easy to come by these days. They’re missing out.
I miss the laughs, Don. And I really miss YOU!
I think most of us do.
By Roy Firestone
7-Time Emmy Award Winning Journalist