My father-in-law was a comedian, a writer and an actor. He had a very successful career and didn’t retire from performing until he was eighty years old. However, he didn’t ever really stop writing and continued to express himself with the written word for the final ten years of his life.
When my wife and I would visit her parents in Toronto during the holidays or on long weekends, it wasn’t unusual for Dave to disappear from the socializing and we would soon hear him clacking away on an old electric typewriter in some other part of the house – we tried not to take it personally. He actually had two typewriters right up until the end, just in case one broke down and he needed to do some work and couldn’t get the repairs done in due time. I don’t think the typewriter repair market is as competitive as it once had been.
One of the last major works he completed was a forty-page essay called Imagine No Religion. It was inspired by the John Lennon song and chronicled his take on the last five thousand years or so of organized religion. Some of it was funny and some of it was insightful and a lot of it was poignantly sad.
But what impressed me the most about this project was the research that he invested in it. Dave never once touched a computer. The internet and Wiki and Google remained a mystery to him.
He did his research the old-fashioned way. He read newspapers, he read countless books and he watched the news. So much of his satirical material was provided by newscasts or late-night Evangelical hucksters. It was remarkable the depth and breadth of his knowledge. As I was reading his essay, I was humbled to find myself learning things from the academic work of an eighty-five year old man who didn’t advance past grade nine. But he never stopped being interested or curious. Or philosophical and funny. And he had a way of keeping those around him interested and curious.
My wife was going through some old papers with some material that he likely never performed or published but some it perfectly captures his wit and I thought I’d share it. They’re silly but they’re fun.
Dave Broadfoot’s The Meaning of Words
|Lymph||To limp with a lisp|
|Gargoyle||Oyle we gargle with|
|Pokemon||A Jamaican proctologist|
|Negligent||Absentmindedly opening the front door of the house while wearing a see-through negligee. Especially if you’re a woman.|
|Rectitude||The posture of a patient immediately after a rectal examination|
|Balderdash||Rapid loss of hair|
|Testicle||The medical testing of a patient’s ticklishness|
|Flatulence||A special ambulance that only picks up flat people|
He’s still making making my wife and me and his friends laugh all these years later.