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This Old Guy Walks Into a Comedy Club...

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Richard Carter, 1920-2011

I just learned that Richard Carter passed away at the age of 91 last month, over across the bay in Concord, CA. He was a war hero in WWII, an artist for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City and then, in his late 60's... he became a standup comedian.

Wish I could remember the year -- I think it was 1989 -- that Dick showed up at the Punchline in San Francisco to audition for the SF International Standup Comedy Competition. I'd been helping with various aspects of the competition for years and it was that year that I was fielding the auditions. Dick came in, looking a little lost, disheveled, and with his cardigan sweater off by one button.

He was on the list for the auditions and said he's driven all the way from Salt Lake City to get there. I figured this would be a quick, sad trip across the stage for the befuddled old man. Once on stage, he reiterated that he'd made the long car trip to be there. "In the fast lane. The whole way. With my turn signal on." The audience fell out and by the time his handful of minutes were up, I just had to invite him in.

The next day I reported back to Jon and Anne Fox, the producers, who were puzzled and a little aghast. "How could you let a 68-year-old guy into the Competition? It's for YOUNG comics!" First I pointed out that he WAS a young comedian - he'd only be doing it for two years. Then I just let Dick's act speak for itself - he got up to #6 for his week. Six out of 20 preliminary contestants. Missed the semi-finals by one spot. But it was the confidence builder he needed.

Dick moved to the Bay Area and started playing the clubs. Even ended up on the Tonight Show in 1993. Our paths never really crossed after that, but I was always proud of the way that guy stuck by his guns and used the fact that he was a senior citizen to his best comedic advantage.

Richard Carter. Best oldest young comedian I ever knew.