Yesterday, August 20, 2012, trailblazing comedienne Phyllis Diller passed away at the age of 95. Phyllis, once a housewife and mother, began her stand up career well into her forties at a time when only men dared stand on stage. Her comedy, her attitude, her presentation, and her material, most of which she herself wrote, were well beyond her time. Phyllis was also a noted pianist and painter. I have a 24×32” oil painting hanging before me on my bedroom wall. It is a rural scene of a path leading through the weeds past a shack into the distant mountains. Every morning I see myself returning home (with Phyllis holding my hand) into the shade of the trees. Okay, so I bought the painting for eight dollars at Out Of The Closet so maybe it’s not The Phyllis, but it’s an original oil nonetheless, signed “Phyllis ‘61”.
I can dream.
There are too many bits to mention here, as the elevator can no longer be depended upon to reach the penthouse, but one of my favorite Phyllis Diller lines is “Trying to clean house while raising kids is like trying to shovel snow during a blizzard.” With two cats and a growing puppy, I relate.
I could mention more about Phyllis Diller here, but I’d have to pull of my files, do more research, and quite frankly, time being precious, I am lazy, so I’d rather sit out a minute in silence to remember her unforgettable humor, quirky laugh. Any woman who dares stand up before an audience today must bow, give thanks to Phyllis Diller, for having paved the way. Like the trail on my bedroom wall, she blazed a path for women everywhere. Tonight in her memory, appropriately enough, I am going to dare stand up in the very spot at the (world famous) Laugh Factory, where Phyllis Diller began her career, and would often show up unannounced, to work on material.
Her laugh forever silenced, but still alive thanks to modern technology, may this funny woman rest in peace. May her family and loved ones find peace in this difficult time. I, for one, will miss knowing she is in this world, making it a better place for simply having been herself. The coroner reported Phyllis was found with a smile on her face. I know that smile. It is the same smile I found on my father’s face, when I last saw him laying on a gurney in his last home; the funeral home.
I know there is one life.
This life is God.
This life is perfect.
This life is my life now as it is the life of Phyllis Diller here, now and then.
This life takes place tonight at 6:30 at the (world famous) Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood as I dare again stand up first before an audience who might well rather have shown up to hear Phyllis laugh. I imagine she is laughing down on me, applauding everyone who dares know the truth and think they have the gift to make people laugh.
I know my word is divine cause.
It is as I say it is because I say it is.
I accept this, take a moment to breathe in the room and the audience before showing up. I send out love. Only love returns to me. There may be a heckler in the crowd, but my love allows hecklers to heckle, as their words bounce off of me like a rubber ball.
I let go, accept tonight’s audience will be drawn to my wit, the way Phyllis so masterfully commanded her audience. May she bless my moment tonight, as he blessed so many moments while visiting this plane.
And so it is.