Mr. Warmth

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=don+rickles&iid=1502066″ src=”2/6/9/2/60th_Primetime_Emmy_ed4d.jpg?adImageId=11902200&imageId=1502066″ width=”234″ height=”327″ /]One of my kids loves Don Rickles. I find this slightly amazing. I have worked with television colleagues, much younger than myself, who seemed to have no cultural reference prior to 1985. If I mentioned Ed Sullivan, they wouldn’t know who Ed Sullivan was. If I mentioned The Great One, they’d assume it was Gretzky…not Gleason. And they sure as hell had never heard of Don Rickles.  So I find it somewhat comforting that Rickles has bridged more than one generation gap.

I met him once. It was at a celebrity roast for a Vancouver bigwig and the room was full of Borscht Belt comedians all of whom, I presume, were being well paid to attend. There was Norm Crosby, Red Buttons, Henny Youngman, Chuck McCann, Milton Berle…and there was Don Rickles.

Rickles walked up to me (I was there with a cameraman) and without missing a beat said, ‘ You look like a Jewish college professor who never made it! ‘  And I was glowing. Really. Cloud Nine. I didn’t know what it meant then and I still don’t know what it means but it doesn’t matter. This is how he gets away with it. You somehow feel honoured that he has chosen you to insult.

There is a controversial human rights case underway in Vancouver right now between a comedian and a woman who feels she was verbally strafed from the stage. If everyone felt that way there would be no one left in a Don Rickles audience. He’ll be 84 in May and he’s still packing them in.

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2 Responses to “Mr. Warmth”

  1. Mike Hutchison Says:

    Don Rickles.. a Jedi master among young Skywalker apprentices! I’m envious of you! In this age of fleeting fame and so much competition for the attention of people (for the “next big thing/fad”), sometimes I wonder if the influence of icons of the previous generation will be lost. Comedic actors/performers like Burgess Meredith, Buddy Hackett, Dom Deluise, Red Skelton, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Tony Curtis…
    I can remember laughing endlessly at Skelton’s skits when I was a youngster (the ‘cough syrup’ scene on the bench), as well as watching the Ed Sullivan show. Burgess Meredith makes me absolutely lose it when watching him in the ‘Grumpy Old Men’ movies, my wife thinks I’m off my rocker for quoting him.

    • Your wife should count herself lucky that you’re not sitting there watching the Three Stooges endlessly. There’s a comedy team that definitely divided the sexes.

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