Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pop Pop Story

When I started doing comedy in New York City, it was a big reach. I had screwed up just about everything else that year of my life. Everyone told me I should do it. I didn't know what I was doing. Somehow I was there though, behind the mic doing my thing. I was just a kid too. While it feels sometimes like I have a long way to go, I have come a long way.

My grandfather, whom I called Pop Pop, loved three things: tennis, cowboy movies, and comedy. The man always loved to laugh. He told jokes and even until the end was awesome. Pop Pop had a sweet, gentle personality and he laughed often. I think after surviving World War II and raising six kids, you would need a sense of humor. He beat cancer Lord know how many times and escaped that blood clot too. Anyone who met my grandfather enjoyed his company. Pop Pop gave all people an equal shake regardless of what they were. I was blessed to have the grandfather I did.

Around the time I began doing comedy, not everyone around me was overjoyed about this. Some tried to discourage me. Comedy can be scary, because when you fail it is personal. My Pop Pop was perhaps the first to encourage me though. As a motivation, he mailed me jokes cut out from the Reader's Digest so I would have something to work off of. Anytime there was an article somewhere about comedy, he would cut it out and mail it to me. Or if Pop Pop was unable to use scissors like he was later on, he would give my mother the heads up. Anytime there was a comedy special on, Pop Pop alerted me too.

My grandparents, Nunni and Pop Pop, were a comedy team a lot of the time it seemed. My grandmother would be dressed in loud colors and enter with her shock of white hair. A mercurial little woman, she would begin the exchange. It would go like this:
Nunni: I would have gotten here sooner but the old man took forever.

Pop Pop: Shut up, Pat.

Nunni: I am moving to Spain. That way I don't have to pay taxes.

Enter my dad

Dad: Actually, you would have to pay a set to live in Spain and a set to maintain US Citizenship.

Pop Pop: Being married to you is worse than life in prison. Because at least with life in prison I get paroled.

Nunni: Shut up old man.

When my book was published my Pop Pop insisted no one else could get a copy until he read it. My mom insisted on just giving him a copy, but he insisted on paying for it. With his eyes fixed, my Pop Pop spent two days straight finishing my book. My grandmother died around Easter and his health went downhill. I had a book signing in Pittsburgh in October. Despite his ill health my grandfather made it. Fragile and ill, he came to support me. This meant a lot because this would be his last trip out of the house alive.

I lost a hero in my life. A man who loved to laugh. It would be an understatement to say I lost a great fan, because he had been there from the beginning. So I will say I lost my greatest and first original fan.

Love you Pop Pop


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