In 1984, when I was 19 years old, I got a job as a doorman at a club called The Comedy Spot in Atlanta. The job was a dream, because I knew I wanted to do standup and it gave me the chance to see comics doing their thing. Among the young local comics in Atlanta at the time were Jeff Foxworthy, David Cross, (later to star in "Arrested Development") and a brilliantly funny young guy from Columbus Georgia named Tim Wilson. Tim had a Southern accent as thick as molasses and as keen a mind as I had ever witnessed. On stage, Tim talked about his marriage; "I'm Southern Baptist, from Columbus Georgia and I married a Jewish girl from Israel... that went over like a fart in a diving helmet."
Tim talked about drinking laws; "In Georgia driving with an open container of beer in your car is illegal... in South Carolina, driving with alcohol on the front seat is illegal... in Utah, if you are thirsty..."
Tim Talked about getting pulled over by a Georgia State Trooper and being caught with books in his car; "Boy, have you been thinking?"... "Yes Sir, but I don't think I'm thunk."
At that time Tim was already starting to work comedy clubs across the country, and his brilliant wit and parody songs were connecting with audiences wherever he went. I too finally got up the nerve and started doing standup and when it was time for me to go on the road, I opened for Tim in Charleston South Carolina on one of my first professional gigs. Tim drove us to and from Charleston, in his Cadillac, and he kept me laughing for the whole trip. In the morning on the way home, Tim was giggling and he told me what he was laughing about; he said he was thinking about a joke in his buddy Killer Beaz act, in which Beaz talked about, as a kid, using Chinette paper plates as targets for his bb gun, and his mom came out of the house, irate, and moaned, "We just can't have nice things."
Then Tim told me about a joke from James Gregory's act in which he said "They should make two story trailer houses... for people that have money."
More than anything, Tim loved to laugh and make people laugh. And the whole process fascinated him.
Over the years, Tim and I worked together in clubs many times, in places like Chattanooga and Cocoa Beach and Greenville. Most of the time, if comics are working with someone they have worked with before, they don't pay much attention to each other's acts. Been there, seen that. But working with Tim was different. I always watched Tim's act, and he always made me laugh. A lot. And he always had a lot of new material and it was always way funnier than mine. And even better than watching Tim's act, was hanging out with Tim at the bar after the show and just listening to him talk. Tim was well versed in a broad array of topics and he had strong opinions about virtually everything. And he was, at all times, his own man. Despite his Southern Baptist upbringing, he married the aforementioned Jewish girl from Israel, and then years later, he married his second wife, who is a black lady. Nobody defined the term "Never judge a book by its cover," like Tim Wilson.
Today, I found out that Tim passed away yesterday from an apparent heart attack, at 52.
In a perfect world, Tim Wilson would be a household name. I have never seen a stronger comedian perform in my life. And that includes Jay Leno, George Carlin and Bill Hicks. Tim was a master and Tim was a wonderful guy. If you've never heard of Tim Wilson, Google him and watch him perform. You'll be glad you did.