The Death Of Don LaPre


Sunday October 16th, 2011 – Chicago, IL

I’ve been making a conscious choice lately to avoid news broadcasts, and I have to say I don‘t feel any the less because of it. I don’t know how smart it is for a comedian to be out of the loop on what’s going on in the world, but my comedy isn’t based on current events.

If anything, it helps people escape from the constant barrage of insanity – at least during the show. There are more than enough competent sources of current events based comedy for those who enjoy it. I for one can use a break from all that bad news, and I’m doing it.

I’ll take a quick glance through a newspaper if one happens to be laying around, but I’m not going over it with a fine tooth comb looking for sources of humor like I used to do all the time when Jerry’s Kidders were on the radio every week. That was fun, but it’s over.

Now, all I get is depressed when I watch the news and see the stock market teetering by the thinnest of threads or civil unrest all over or downright war almost everywhere else. I couldn’t care less about American Idol or any of the Kardashians either. It all annoys me.

I’m sure at some point I’ll probably find myself going back to at least a little news brief every so often, but unless I get a job writing for a network TV show I’m going to cool my nose for news for now and get caught up with my own projects. Peace and quiet would be a much better backdrop to get things done than hearing about crime, violence and hatred.

One story that managed to slide right past me recently was the death of TV infomercial fixture Don LaPre. He was the over exuberant baby faced pitch man who sold the concept of taking out ’tiny little ads’ in newspapers all over the country and raking in easy profits.

I’ll admit, I bought a slickly wrapped package or two of his myself over the years. I also ran across a whole lot more for sale dirt cheap in thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales. Apparently I wasn’t the only one interested in trying to find the elusive easy pot of gold.

I had no idea he was in jail, but evidently he had come up with a new ‘product’ that was supposed to be a miracle vitamin and was arrested for fraud. He was awaiting his trial and decided to take his own life rather than face a long prison term. To me, that admits guilt.

What a shocking and sad story. With the help of Google I went back and checked some of his personal history and he’d been in trouble for a while for making false claims for his products. Still, he had a lot of people who spoke highly of him being a generous person.

I’ve always been a fan of successful entrepreneurs, and this story was a stunner. I hadn’t kept up with him close enough to have heard about the vitamin idea, but from what I read it sounded like a scam from the start. He was looking at a lot of prison time because of it.

I want to make money in my own entrepreneurial ventures of course, but not if I have to bilk the masses to do it. I can’t say if Don LaPre was a crook, but it sure didn’t end well.

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