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March 2, 2014

DODD: Thanks for the laughs

“Horrible news tonight. Comedian Tim Wilson passed away. I hope you were one of the lucky ones that got to see him perform. One of the best.” — Larry the Cable Guy.

An attorney friend of mine was talking about an old friend of ours in high school back in the 1970s at Jeffersonville High School. He was one of the nicest guys I ever knew and an absolute giant of a man. He was, however, not the brightest bulb. He was just one of those guys you really liked and remember from your past life.

The guy had limited athletic ability and being so large, one of the football coaches thought they could make a lineman out of him, but apparently learning the X’s and O’s didn’t come all that easy. According to my friend, he was later ruled academically ineligible because he made a D in English and four F’s on his report card. The coach had to tell him and tried to break the news diplomatically.

“I think the problem was that you were spending too much time on English.”

I have no idea as to whether this story is true of not, but it made me laugh on a day where I had gotten news early Thursday that didn’t start my day off right. Comedian and singer Tim Wilson had died overnight at the age of 52 from a heart attack.

Simply put, I thought Tim Wilson was one of the funniest guys on the planet. I saw him probably seven or eight times at the Comedy Caravan in Louisville. He was one of those rare acts that had my head actually hurting on a given night from laughing so loud for so long. He was a special performer. I am sure I would have seen him more times in the future.

I used to love to organize large groups of friends from my corporate world days who had never been to a live comedy club. It was always one of two guys I liked to initiate them with on their first visit. It was either Tim Wilson or Heywood Banks. I consider both of them to be comedy geniuses.

Comedians are special people. If you are ever in a small club room with the best of them you will forget everything wrong in your life or any problem for an hour or so. You can’t laugh out loud and be depressed at the same time.

Tim Wilson was irreverent. The great comedians not only make you laugh, but will attack your most closely held sacred beliefs in a way for self examining. The really good ones have a way of looking at the world in a childlike, literal way. They observe the little things in life that we either miss or don’t pay attention to. There are things that they make us see that otherwise we would not ever notice.

And often, as in the case of Tim Wilson, they just take the insane and the absurd and plain make us laugh uncontrollably.

There is no way to explain what makes something funny. Anyone can tell a joke. Not everyone is funny. It is hard to imagine Tim Wilson having ever done anything else for a living. He was just that good. He was just that funny.

Perhaps my favorite memory will be the night my buddy Rod and I were sitting together on the front row of the stage. We had each indulged in our twice a year ritual of going to the Comedy Caravan to celebrate our respective birthdays.

Part of that ritual included drinking two double shots of tequila prior to the show. Most people who know me know that I am not really a drinker. I am sure we were quite a sight to behold in the front row while on stage.

I was a short, middle-aged man and Rod is also a short guy who is bald on top. We are both two of the greatest laughers who ever sat in an audience.

On that particular evening, Tim was especially hilarious. Early during his act as we were laughing, he stopped his act and looked over at both of us and said to the audience, “Hey look at that. Here in the front row we have the two old guys in the balcony from The Muppets.”

For the rest of his act Tim would take a pause and ask us things like, “How are the old Muppet guys doing?”

He had made us laugh at ourselves and turned us into a mini part of the act. We were the perfect stooges because we laughed at ourselves as much as anyone else that night. The Muppet guy’s comparison follows us to this day in a certain crowd.

Tim never seemed to reach that ultimate comedian plateau or have his own television show. He is as good of proof that I can offer as to just having the talent is not enough. So many I have seen were not even in his league that made the big time.

I am always kind of surprised at how many people have never been to a comedy club. Louisville has one of the finest and gets some really talented and funny people. I consider it one of the best entertainment dollars anywhere.

For some of us, Tim Wilson will always hold special memories. He was one of the very best. It’s hard to put a price on someone who can make you forget life’s problems for a while.

For Tim, it was usually $15 to 20 per head. I have paid four or five times that for big-name comedians who didn’t make me laugh a fraction as much. I wish I had of taken more people to see him.

For anyone who thinks they would like to see a live show, the comedy club is now called the Laughing Derby at Comedy Caravan and is located at the Mid-City Mall at 1250 Bardstown Road. The phone number is 502-459-0022.

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at

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