David Gee, legendary entertainer and prolific author of such literary treasures as “Turnabout Is Foreplay” and “Ventriloquism for Dummies”, has died. He was 112. The iconic comedian had just finished a morning workout when he passed away in his suite at the Playboy Mansion surrounded by a small circle of "friends".
At a press conference from the White House, President Sasha Obama praised Mr. Gee as, “warm, wonderful and always a lot of fun to be around”. With a sportive grin, she then added, “And he truly was an American hero”. No doubt that statement was in reference to the popular footlong ham and baloney creation that bears his name at Subway.
EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
Born in New Rochelle, New York, and raised in Northern California, David Gee was, by all early indications, well on his way to a successful career in politics; at age eighteen he became the youngest elected public official in California state history. But, while a student at U.C. Santa Barbara, a chance encounter with a cold beer and a hot microphone at a local watering hole sent him slouching toward a life in Show Business.
And slouch he did. It was years spent in dive bars and at comedy club cattle calls before his first real break blew in: a Las Vegas variety revue entitled “Playboy’s Girls of Rock n’ Roll”. In addition to affording him steady work for a considerable run, it also earned him the honor of being named “Best Comedian in a Production Show” by the Las Vegas Review Journal for an unprecedented three years in a row. “I loved that gig and never took it for granted,” Gee fondly reflected in a television interview. “At the time, I was your everyday mercenary comic, your typical workin’ stiff." He then quipped, “And in the Playboy show, believe me, I was workin’ stiff.”
In his 2041 autobiography, “Is It Bald, Drunk and Hilarious in Here, or Is It Just Me?”, Gee wrote that his association with Budd Friedman – owner of the Improv comedy clubs – was “as significant as any in all of my career.” That relationship, which began in the mid-1990’s, enabled him to refine his talents and to more fully develop as a comedian. Furthermore, it permitted the incurably star-struck performer an opportunity to share the stage with such heavyweights as Bob Hope, Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. “At a Friar’s Roast in 2000,” Gee recounted, “Sid Caesar introduced me to Milton Berle. How insanely cool is that?” But for Budd Friedman and the Improv connection, that unforgettable moment would probably not have occurred.
It was at this time that David Gee also came of age as a writer: frequently called upon to provide material for many other comedians, creative projects and corporate events. He became a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and, in 2007, was commissioned to pen one-liners for the President of the United States at the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner. It was true comic irony that for over six years he had been an ardent, vocal critic of the then president George W. Bush yet, after one phone call, found himself suddenly cast in the role of supplying banter for the man. “To me”, he wrote, “it was like Queen Elizabeth soliciting a deckhand from the Spanish Armada to provide her a lift across the English Channel.” He then offered, “Nonetheless, it was an honor and I enjoyed the row.”
Consistent work as a voice-over artist and web series actor, combined with his numerous nightclub and corporate engagements, allowed him to hang on to that coveted pot to piss in and to successfully navigate the stormy seas of Recession in 2008 thru 2011.
THE STUFF OF LEGEND
In September of 2016, “No Time Like The Pleasant” – a situation comedy starring David Gee as a light-hearted slacker named Artie Mench – made its debut on NBC. Immediately embraced by Boomers, Xers and Millennials alike, it sat high atop the ratings for nearly all of its six-year run; and the series finale – where Artie wakes up from a dream in bed next to Bob Newhart – was viewed by over 60 million people and is now considered a television classic.
Shortly thereafter, Gee wrote and starred in the film comedy, “Spare Me” – the tale of a loveable con man who dies before his time and arrives at the doors of Heaven only to find it’s a bowling alley. Complicating matters is the unfortunate fact that it’s League Night and he’s not allowed in. The measures he then takes to try to gain entry and the eccentric characters he engages in the process, combined to create a savory comic stew that movie-goers couldn’t resist. The film grossed over $400 million worldwide and earned its creator rave reviews, a slew of prestigious awards and an impressive collection of cool and kitschy numbered shoes. More significantly, it was on the set of “Spare Me” that Gee met actress Beth Paige – his adoring wife of nearly fifty years and heir to the Red Bull fortune.
In the ensuing years, David Gee became a sought-after comic actor on stage and screen as well as a prolific artist in the recording booth. It was there, most notably, where he brought the delightfully clueless character of Esau to life in Pixar’s timeless animated blockbuster, “The Dead Sea Squirrels”. Also, during this period, in addition to his budding success as a writer, he began to emerge as an international ambassador of good will. In the name of charitable organizations, he traveled the world; and provided entertainment for troops stationed at its farthest corners. In the latter capacity, the aged comedian became notorious for frequently tagging failed jokes with lines like, “Hey, that KILLED at Waterloo.”
MAKING AN IMPACT
Referred to as “The Geezer” even in his teens, the venerable entertainer lived long enough to fully vindicate the moniker; and he became almost as well-known for his longevity as for his lifetime achievements. “The only thing in comedy older than Dave Gee,” quipped a much younger colleague at a recent roast, “is his material!” Once, when asked to proffer a reason for such an extended life, Gee cited as a possibility his longstanding practice of sprinkling gunpowder on his cereal every morning. In recognition of that distinctive habit, he asked that the final passage of his obituary read as follows:
"Upon his death, David Gee has left a myriad of loving family, a wealth of wonderful friends and a HUMUNGOUS hole in the crematorium wall.”