Monday, October 24, 2016

RIP Kevin Meaney

Kevin Meaney passed away three days ago. You knew his work if you had even a passing interest in comedy since the eighties.

I first saw Meaney perform as part of an HBO special on the 1988 Just for Laughs festival hosted by John Candy. After that, he was everywhere, from his own HBO special to countless half-hour stand up shows, often classing up the dregs of the comedy boom (I think his "Cooking with Kevin" segment on MTV's comedy show was one of the few times I ever laughed when watching it. No surprise he brought it back in later years).

Decades later, in my worst moments of anger (oh like two days ago), I can still bring myself back with humor just by feeling tempted to sing Meaney's "I don't care"song. I haven't done it yet, but I know it's always an option, though it won't be as funny.

I lost track of Meaney's career over the years. I only found out that he came out as gay via a few comedy podcasts and got to follow up with the excellent documentary Call Me Lucky.

Bobcat Goldthwait's film focuses on comic/activist Barry Crimmins but touches on many other stand up comics.Kevin Meaney's coming out was briefly touched on with a brief but amazing segment from his stand-up: "You can be a fucking homo and be a football player, how about that...and everybody's going, Oh my God he's so brave, he's so brave! He plays football, and he's gay! He's brave! That's Brave! I'll tell you what's brave. I told my wife I was gay. That's brave!"

I've listened to comics joke about how they always knew Meaney was gay, brushing it off with laughter like it was never a big deal. As if it does away with what it must have been like to have been gay during the 80's with homophobic humor being a staple among the most famous mainstream comics. What was it like as a gay comic knowing even if you made it you could share a stage with someone like Eddie Murphy, Andrew "Dice" Clay or Sam Kinison. Hear the first ten or so minutes of Kinison's Have You Seen Me Lately, and picture having to open or even follow something like that.

It must have been an amazing story to hear. I hope he told a lot of it while he was alive and that there's YouTube videos I can watch later. I hope Goldthwait or someone else has something on film to share. I saw one of Meaney's earliest performances, and yet I still feel like I missed him.

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