In the line of work in which I once worked, I got to meet a lot of people. Popular morning shows in radio’s bigger markets offer little wide-eyed girls from Karnes City, Texas entré to a world they could only dream about.
Swimming pools….movie stars.
And Uncle Jed would have been amazed by the pools in which I swam. I got to meet incredible people. Ego-maniacal rock stars, stuffed shirt politicians; the most insecure movie stars and comedians with hearts of gold.
Robert Shimmel seemed like that type of comedian to me. Oh, perhaps on the occasions when we he appeared on our show (three times total) his behavior was model. That’s OK. It allowed me to create and keep nothing but great memories.
I thought he was brilliantly funny.
I knew enough about his life to know that like all comedians, his was humor born from pain. He lost a child. And as I interviewed him on the air, and then later, as we talked about de rigueurs of comedy off the air, I really didn’t care about his affairs or failed marriages.
I didn’t know the Robert Shimmel the husband or the alleged abuser. I knew him only on the surface; as a comedian who was cute and kind and unlike so many of his ilk, was willing to impart wisdom garnered from experience. He was generous that way. He knew I had comedic leanings and was very supportive of my someday pursuing them. To have a comic like Robert Shimmel tell you have what it takes to be a working comedian in this crazy day and age, is incredible.
Robert is one of the reasons why I started this blog. Why I wrote comedy for several radio stations. Why I even have the temerity to try to make people laugh.
Therefore, I was stunned when I learned of his death this weekend. He died from injuries sustained after being in a car wreck; a car driven by his daughter.
He battled infidelity and heartache. A failed marriage. He lost his 11-year-old son to cancer and he himself, battled Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, yet a car crash did him in. The frailty of life amazes me.
I cried when I read the news about Robert Shimmel. I cried because he was a special man, to me anyway. He was on tour once when he called his Warner Brothers rep here in Houston to tell me that he wished me well in a standup routine I was working on.
That meant a great deal to me.
Robert Shimmel, in spite of his faults was a kind man and I gauge that only by the way he treated me. He’s no longer in pain of any kind and probably doing 20-minutes (which in Paradise-speak means eternity) before God and the angels on a fluffy cloud with a hot mike and a red brick wall behind him. The house is rockin’ and everyone is laughing and he is, as they say, “feelin’ like solid gold”.
Ah, go ahead…death BE proud. You know, there’s nothing certain in anyone’s life, other than it must someday end and Death, especially for someone as astute as Shimmel has to be some kind of incredibly surreal trip. I can only surmize this, but I would think that death ends one sphere of existence, then triggers the beginning of another. I have no doubt that this transition is what’s happening to this very funny man.
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.
Sleep well, Robert. I’ll miss you.