Good Night, Pat Brice

Just when I was seriously considering going back to standup comedy, I was suddenly reminded of why I quit standup comedy in the first place. I remember going to a different comedy club every night and driving all over Chicagoland. I performed at the following clubs at one time or another: Comedy Womb, The Clout Club, Sally’s Stage, Who’s On First, Comedy Cottage (Rosemont and Merrillville, Indiana), Chuckles, and a few other places whose names I no longer remember. I enjoyed performing when everything went well, but dreaded those nights when I bombed. I also enjoyed the socializing with the other comedians afterwards. However, as fun and attractive as the Bohemian lifestyle was to me when I was younger, I knew I was living an unhealthy life. I had to undergo a lot of stress for just modest success. Well, eventually I found a safer, healthier job as a Chicago police officer and left the standup comedy scene behind. Of course, I occasionally feel the urge to return to the stage and perform.

So the other day, I read about a young Chicago comedian who died: Patrick Healy Brice, 29, suddenly. He was about to have his own Internet radio program. But I can still recall him as a teenager raking leaves in Mayor Daley’s yard when he still lived in Bridgeport. Since I have lived most of my life in Chicago, I often find that I am somehow connected with a lot of other people in Chicago. Just by coincidence, I used to work with Pat’s father Bernie who was a police officer and bodyguard to the mayor. When Bernie read a Chicago Sun-Times profile of me, he started talking to me about my being a comedian. Somehow he was interested in this little tidbit of information about me.

Years later, Bernie told me proudly when his son started performing standup comedy. He told me all the clubs where his son was performing. When he went to see his son perform for the first time, his son told him, “Dad, I make a lot of jokes about my dad. But they’re not about you.” When Bernie retired from the police department, his son performed at his retirement party and he was very funny. He just kept working at comedy and kept getting better all the time. It’s a sad shame, but Good night, Pat Brice.