Last week I wrote a goodbye to comedian Richard Carter, who was warmly remembered by those who knew him. This morning I heard about the passing of a another beloved veteran standup comic who I was fortunate to cross paths with a number of times over the years: Vic Dunlop. Beset with health problems (mostly related to diabetes), Vic was a testament to humor being good for the spirit.
A garrulous performer, Vic was one of a small collection of satchel-toting prop comics who tended to use his powers for good... and the props were often just a side dish to his rollicking (and sometimes corny) jokes and observations. He was a true force of humor onstage, though, and his boisterous laugh and attitude rarely failed to grab even the most wooden, arms-crossed audience member and have them laughing by the end of his set.
I saw Vic most often almost 30 years ago when I was managing Seattle's Comedy Underground comedy club. He was a veteran of TV's original Make Me Laugh, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and Evening At The Improv. At that time in comedy, that was all it took to be a celebrity on the circuit, so we always had full houses whenever Vic came to town.
Among his earliest props was a pair of buggy plastic eyes that became such a signature piece in his act that he took to buying them in bulk and selling them after his show. He even released a CD of his comedy entitled Hot Buttered Eyeballs.
Son of character actor Victor Marko, Dunlop was known for having served in Viet Nam. (He warned me when he first stayed at the comedy condo in Seattle not to be alarmed if I heard him screaming in the middle of the night -- he suffered night terrors as a result of his wartime experiences.)
His weight always an issue, Vic was diagnosed with diabetes which led to him having to have a foot amputated. Although I'd not talked to Vic in a long time, I would hear from mutual comedy friends about his ongoing ailments and he underwent surgery a week or so ago for one of them. Apparently, complications set in, aggravated by the diabetes and he passed away the other night at 63 years of age.
Vic had been heading up a contingent of comedians the past few years who were specializing in promoting "clean comedy", shows which families could enjoy seeing live. Along with longtime friend Bill Kirchenbauer and others, he was enthusiastic as always about his career as a comedian. A truly nice guy with a big heart, a great laugh, and the ability to use both to entertain people regardless of his own situation and condition.
I embedded this video of Vic performing that I found on YouTube. It's from 2009, but it paints a good enough picture of the man and his humor for those of you who may not have gotten to see him on stage. Miss you, Vic!
Marc Hershon is the co-author of the book I Hate People (Little, Brown and Company; June 2009) with Jonathan Littman. Marc is also a screenwriter who has written several television movies for the Hallmark Channel, including Santa Jr., Monster Makers, and Wedding Daze.