When I was a kid, my mother’s bridge club consisted of her sister Marie and cousins Liz and Claire. It was always a big deal when mom hosted because I would inevitably be able to sneak a few deviled eggs away from the proceedings.
I learned a lot from watching these women play bridge. You think playoff hockey is competitive? Think again. Watching my mom take down her opponents was like watching the Rumble in the Jungle “Down goes Claire… down goes Claire.”
As the years progressed they decided to start pooling their weekly money into a trip fund. I believe Portugal (for some unknown reason) was first up. It explained why we had a cache of chicken logod items around the house for years to come.
Then they hatched a plan to go to Vegas – which I still believe would make a fantastic screenplay. (Any screenwriters out there? Perhaps we can collaborate?)
When they returned home, all I was interested in was if they saw any musical shows but they said they’d decided to see a comic instead: Don Rickles.
I was much too young to know about Rickles then. His story. His movies. His Carson and Dean Martin Roast appearances.
Finally Liz said “He was so insulting and rude…we walked out!”
That was it. It was all I needed to hear and I was off on a Don Rickles fact finding mission.
Coming from a large family with five older brothers and two sisters, we were well versed in the art of insult comedy. Survival of the fittest baby. An Irish girlfriend once reminded me that this is how big families show love. Once you’re tough enough to take cutting insults from loved ones, you’re tough enough for anything!
So needless to say, when I discovered Rickles I loved him. He was better and faster than my older brothers Bob and Dave in the art of the insult (and trust me these guys are ninjas).
I would urge any aspiring artist to read Rickles Book as it’s a lesson in perseverance and risk taking. Including the Chaplin’s and Stooges, the Henny Youngman’s and Dangerfield’s, the Lenny Bruce’s and Carlin’s, the Moms Mabley’s, Red Foxx’s and Pryor’s to Phyllis and Joan and Eddie and Louis….no single human has made me laugh harder than Rickles.
“Don Rickles is the best comic of all time and I’d stand on Liz’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that!”
He made me laugh until the very end. I’m gonna miss that guy.
Interestingly, at the recording studio last week one of the lads was reading his phone and said “Hey…that guy Don Wrinkles just died”.
I just brushed it off thinking they were talking about another obscure jazz guitarist from the 60s I’d not heard of.
Then it registered….”Wait….did you mean Don Rickles died? ”
“Oh yeah…sorry man…Rickles not Wrinkles. He was pretty famous eh?”
“Well….I first heard of him when I was eight years old. You see my mother played a game called bridge…..”
RIP Wrinkles…thanks for the laughs.