The Funniest One in the Room…

And even though that’s also the title of my book, it’s a particularly appropriate day to recycle it.

ImageIt was 15 years ago today, March 4, 1999, that Del Close left us. His official last words: “I’m tired of being the funniest one in the room.”

He was just five days short of his 65th birthday, way too young to leave us without imparting more of his improvisational wisdom, and sharing his genius with yet another generation of performers.

Of course, Del never thought he would live anywhere near as long as he did, and anyone who knew him in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s might agree. (Much later in life, he encountered one of his cronies from that period, and began rattling off his list of performing and directing accomplishments. The man gasped “My God, Del–you’ve gone sane!”)

He left behind a legacy that anyone would envy.

The Improv Olympic, now the iO, turns out hundreds of students every year, thanks to Charna carrying on his dream of “Theatre of the Heart.” Whether they know it or not, everyone that climbs on a stage and improvises today probably owes a debt of gratitude to Del. His students are on stage, screen, and television, and establish their own theatres across the country and around the world. And for those of us who knew him and were lucky enough to be his friend, he left us with memories.