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Funny Is as Tragic Does

Today was the birthday of a friend of mine - a fine man and a helluva funny comedian. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to celebrate his day. He passed away in late 2016. His name was - no, is - Dennis Ross.

It's often said that the best comedians draw upon their own lives and personal tragedies - self deprecating humor as a way to exorcise the demons, maybe.

Dennis wasn't famous - not in a Robin Williams or even a *gulp* Dane Cook way. No, he was a road warrior who traveled by car from state to state to perform at small clubs, special events and even a few restaurants. It was at a restaurant - a Mexican restaurant in Northern Virginia - where I first saw Dennis perform. The restaurant doubled as a comedy venue every now and then on a Friday or Saturday night and Dennis was the headliner. No one, myself included, had an inkling that Dennis sat on a stool throughout his set due to health issues. It wouldn't have mattered if Dennis had been in traction - he would have still performed.

Why? For the same reason that most every comedian performs - laughs. To hear the laughter, to see the smiles, tears and chuckles. I once took a shot at stand-up comedy. Though scared sh*tless and unable to remember what I said, I remember every single laugh and the faces of the ones who chuckled. It's the same reason that shamans in most every culture laugh a lot and seemingly always have a smile on their faces - to say, "lighten up."

Life isn't meant to be taken so damn seriously. Laughter is a healer in and of itself. The satisfaction that Dennis had in seeing others laugh erased the bodily pain he felt - if even for a half hour. Everywhere Dennis traveled, he brought healing for someone along for the ride. I'm sure that on some level, he wanted breakout fame - human nature and society instills that "need" for success in each of us.

However, the day he transitioned over, I read the comments from his friends - his peers in comedy - as well as from those he touched through his comedy - his fans. The love that each one of his peers - many of them also road-warrior comedians - and fans put into words on Dennis' Facebook page was so genuine. He'd no doubt have been humbled by the outpouring of emotion. He loved what he did despite the long hours and travel. He loved his wife, Deb, whose love for Dennis was evident in her support for his passion. He talked as passionately about her after his performance one evening.

A single laugh can erase the lowest vibration of one's day. Like the face of MAD magazine would say, "What? Me worry?" It can also raise the vibration of the one bringing laughter to others. Laughter is a reflection of joy and happiness ... love ... in it's purest form.

Dennis was an unwitting healer. Every single comedian is a healer. Every one of us can be a healer by making someone laugh or by simply bringing a smile to the face of another.

Laugh, damnit. We are all comedians. We all wear the comedy/tragedy mask - a symbol of the positive/negative life we each have. Use tragedy - no matter how large or small - to learn, grow, laugh ... love.

Be a healer - laughter is a gift everyone is capable of sharing.

Thanks, Dennis. The spotlight is on you now. You, Robin Williams, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, Greg Giraldo ... one helluva lineup.

Peace and laughter.

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