A real pink-neck sensibility
It happens to the best of us: trying to write is a complete bust, and when you try to read your brain just can’t seem to hold the thought from the beginning of a paragraph to the end. You can’t concentrate, but you’re not sleepy, and so you wind up either surfing the internet or surfing channels.
A few years ago I was doing that one late weekend night and I came across a comedian doing standup. He was a big guy with a shaved head and wearing a football jersey telling a joke about why he loves the series, Cops. Cops happens to be one of my least favorite shows, for exactly the reasons he was joking about it, but he made me laugh, so I kept watching.
A few minutes later he mentions that he’s gay, and then makes a bunch of self-depracating jokes about how difficult it is for a gay guy who looks like him to get a date. Which made me laugh a bit more—and not just because my equally non-stereotypical look had made dating unpleasant back in the day. He made some more jokes about growing up in Texas in a Baptist family, then summed up the routine with a comment, “Folks look at me and think I’m a real redneck, but I’m really a pinkneck, which isn’t all that different.”
I had to do a little on-line sleuthing to find out who he was, since I had missed his introduction, and the show went to a commercial break and moved on to the next comedian without repeating his name. Scott Kennedy, it was a name I hoped I would remember.
Sometime after that I read a story online somewhere about how Scott had formed a group to entertain troops. He had worked with the USO a few times, being the son of a veteran and a military school graduate himself, he felt strongly about supporting the men and women serving their country. He called it, “Giving them a piece of home.”
But the USO organizers didn’t like to take the entertainers into dangerous places. Scott thought those were the troops that needed it most, so working with some officers he’d met during his USO tours and some comedians back home, he formed Comics Ready to Entertain (CR2E) in 2007, and started doing tours.
The last time I’d heard anything about CR2E was a short video interview after his (I think it was) 47th tour, talking about how he’d gotten his father to go along with him on the tour, which included some comments from his 70-some-year-old dad talking about what it was like to see his son entertaining troops from the same unit he had served in (back in the 50s), now somewhere deep in Afghanistan.
I’ve caught Scott’s act a few times since on cable. It wasn’t that he made me laugh so hard my sides hurt—maybe I watch too many comedians, because that seldom happens any more—but his act reassured me that it was okay that I was a gay man who occasionally watches football, likes some country music (in between the glam pop, dance, musicals, and all my other weird music tastes), doesn’t like RuPaul’s Drag Race, and will never, ever look like a gym bunny.
Scott Kennedy died a bit over a week ago. I’d seen no mention of it on any of the many gay-related news blogs I read before one blog post today. I would have rather been reading tributes to him than some of the news I did read (and amplified and ranted about on my own blog).
Scott was a funny man who did what he could to make people laugh. We need more laughter. And we need to spend more time recognizing heroes such as Scott: