(Each week I am trying to thank each contributor of my upcoming book.)
When I first started working on my greatest bookstores project I started by making a list of my favorite people. This included everyone from close friends to the President, people who inspired me and who I admired and who I would plan to speak with, if possible.
By this time, the beloved comedian, Robin Williams, passed away. At the same time, my best friend, Len Belzer, also committed suicide. I wrote humor with Len as well. Len knew all the great comedians from hosting his public radio humor show (like Seinfeld, Carlin, Hicks–Len's interview with Bill Hicks is legendary) and he knew Robin and from his brother, stand-up Richard Belzer (who most know as Detective Munch on Law & Order). That week Richard lost his brother and we both lost one of our best friends. Through Len I became a comedy nerd and learned a lot as well as many life lessons outside of comedy. We played chess together, wrote jokes and helped each other struggle with our respective demons.
One of the cartoons Len and I did together was not our joke but one given to us. Richard had gone to the hospital with his buddy to cheer up a mutual friend. That friend was Robin and it was he who said, "It's always about you," to their sick friend. I used that line again in reference to Len when I spoke to a tearful Friar's Club at Len's memorial. It did make Gilbert Gottfried laugh and afterwards Robert Klein kindly and eerily told me I killed.
I'm sharing this story because today the cartoon is being published by National Lampoon. They are no longer a print magazine but have an online presence. It was 25 years since I last wrote jokes for them when they started again and again I'm still proud that they use my work. Back in the day Richard Belzer was actually also writing for the Lampoon as well as many soon-to-be household-name comedians like Gilbert (we would all cross paths again at SPY).
So thank you Mr. Williams and thank you, Len for the laughs and friendship.