My Summer Lair Chapter #209: Have You Heard About The One About Del Close?
Yo! For this episode I’ll need a location…I heard My Summer Lair…which makes sense. Villains need a break from their typical lairs. People have summer homes, right? And I’ll need an occupation: I heard podcast host. Ok let’s put this together: Yo Welcome to My Summer Lair I’m your host Sammy “Yes And” Younan.
I actually performed improv in a group…we did it for about 2 or 3 years. It’s a challenging medium because it forces you to be decisive. Instead of saying car which is bland it’s better to be specific say Ford Pinto. Your castmates benefit; the audience benefits…and you can build on that. That is…if you have it. Because with improv some nights you just don’t have it.
Though with improv it’s best to avoid the negative and focus on the positive. So tell me this: what do John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Shelley Long and Bob Odenkirk plus many more funny folks all have in common?
Del Close: an actor, writer, and improv teacher who coached many of the best-known comedians and comic actors…I mean that list I just recited, right?
Chances are you know Bill Murray and Tina Fey and Bob Odenkirk; they’re old pop culture friends yet Del Close is a cultural stranger.
So thankfully we now have Heather Ross’ For Madmen Only a Del Close documentary. A “madman” who freely operated from the total belief that improvisational comedy was an art form. He taught his witty students to be present…to make unlikely choices. Which sounds obvious but was indeed revolutionary. In this documentary it’s a treat to hear Adam McKay and Tim Meadows talk about comedy and celebrate the freedom of improv comedy.
And even though the focus of this documentary is comedy it’s not a “funny movie.” Unfortunately there is a persistent darkness that overshadows a lot of the mirth. Laughter may be the best medicine but for Del Close it wasn’t enough to dull his pain…his unresolved hurt.
If you’re a comedy nerd or a performer this documentary For Madmen Only is a must watch (now on Hulu!). Director Heather Ross has found a creative way to present Del Close’s literal words and his life while avoiding long periods of talking heads. I’m so grateful for the wonderful contributions Del made to comedy in general and in specific in my life.
Host Sammy Younan
Recorded: Wednesday August 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Stress free pop culture tastefully harvested for your divine delight. Once a week a carefully curated edition of My Pal Sammy goes directly to your inbox. Sign up for my newsletter so we can have some fun…doing improv!