Mayberry Mourning


Wednesday July 4th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I think for a select few very lucky people, success is a matter of destiny. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them but not many of us are. It’s extremely rare, but when it does happen they’re the ones that touch millions. Andy Griffith was one of those people, and I was sad to hear of his passing. I know he was 86 and had an outstanding run, but any time a giant like that leaves us I feel a loss.

What an amazing success story that guy has, and he made his mark more than once. His “What It Was, Was Football” recorded standup comedy bit from 1953 was a huge hit, and that alone has my utmost respect. It’s unique, funny and still holds up today. I’ve played it often in my classes.

If I could come up with a bit that would become that well known, I’d consider my career a big success. So far, I haven’t come close after going on thirty years of trying as hard as I can. That’s how rare it is, and Andy Griffith did it. But that’s considered only one of his smallest successes.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was THE television sitcom of all time in my opinion, and there are millions of others that wholeheartedly agree. There can be arguments made for other shows, but for sheer humanity and warmth that show stands alone. I’ve been a fan all my life and I still am.

Those early black and white episodes were made before I was born, and they’ll be entertaining people long after I’m dead. They’re absolute classics, and to leave a legacy like that is simply the best any entertainer could hope for. I think it goes beyond entertainment and into popular culture, and very few people ever achieve that elite status. Who in America has not heard of Mayberry?

If that wasn’t enough, he went on to star in ‘Matlock’ for another nine years and that was also a huge hit. Any show that lasts nine years on network television must be doing something correctly and again, that alone would have cemented Andy Griffith’s place as a legitimate bona fide star.

I was not a Matlock viewer, but I didn’t watch a lot of TV shows made after 1985. That’s when I started in comedy full time and I was busy performing most nights and lost interest. Millions of others did watch that show, and my grandmother was one of them. I’ll bet she saw every episode.

I have to wonder what kind of a personal life the guy had. I know success and money are never guarantees of happiness, and each of us is different. I’ve read articles about Andy saying he wasn’t Andy Taylor off camera, but it’s a part of him. I think all performers do that to a certain extent.

Mr. Lucky is not who I am off stage, but it is a part of me even at times when I don’t want it to be. Successful performers create characters, and that’s what Griffith did both with Sheriff Taylor and Matlock. He also did it in a much darker way in the film “A Face in the Crowd” in 1957. He said that was also a part of him, and I’m sure it was. We’re all human, and we have many sides.

I’m sorry I never got to meet Andy Griffith in person, but I sure did enjoy his work. Knowing how rare it is to achieve the level of success he did makes me admire his accomplishments even more. He was an icon, and will be remembered for generations. I hope he enjoyed his success.

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