Happy Birthday Jim Wiggins

Wednesday October 10th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’m a big fan of making a big deal out of remembering someone’s birthday. It’s one of the very few things I’m actually halfway decent at, and I try to make it a point to make people feel good if at all possible. I know how flattering it feels when someone remembers my birthday, and it’s not all that difficult to really make a person feel special. To me, that’s one of the best thrills there is.

Today it was an extra special thrill for me to remember the birthday of my friend Jim Wiggins. I made it a point to make a big deal of it, because Jim is a big deal. He’s one of the sweetest and most thoughtful human beings I’ve ever met, and he’s always gone out of his way to encourage a lot of the young comedians coming up the ranks. I was one of them once, and I never forgot him.

Jim has fought ferociously through some major obstacles in his life, and some of his struggles make mine look like a game of tiddlywinks. His wife passed away and he also lost a son. Things like that hard enough on ‘normal’ people without having to go out and be funny in spite of it all.

Most of the really good comedians have experienced enormous personal turmoil, and that’s an important ingredient of what keeps them going. They’ve got nothing to fall back on, and comedy becomes the only escape. It becomes a lifelong love affair, and like all love affairs it’s difficult.

To make it even more difficult, Jim has been battling cancer for several years. He’s a two time winner, and has come through with amazing courage I don’t think even he knew he had. Cancer is nothing to joke about for most people, but for comedians we can’t help it. Everything is funny.

Well, almost everything. Jim told Bill Gorgo, Tim Walkoe and me when we worked a show in Sparta, WI a few weeks ago that the cancer was back and he would be going through chemo for a  third painful time. I wouldn’t wish one time on a Hall of Famer like Jim Wiggins, but I am not in charge of doling it out. My grandfather was great too, but he also had to fight that ugly disease.

Where’s the fairness here? Charles Manson and Jerry Sandusky live long lives disease free, but two wonderfully giving souls like Gramps and Jimmy Wigs have to get that dealt to them. I don’t get it, and I never will. It pisses me off more than a little quite frankly, but I have no credentials.

All I could do today was spread the word about Jim’s birthday, and hope people would take the time to shoot him a call or an email and at least let him know people care that he’s alive and have a plethora of pleasant memories of him like I do. He spent years planting positive seeds, and he’s earned himself legendary status with just about anyone who ever worked with him. He’s a peach.

I posted as many places as I could that today was his birthday, and asked people who knew him and those who didn’t to just take a minute and send him a birthday wish. Let the man enjoy some recognition for his significant contributions as a comedian and more importantly as a giving soul.

If you didn’t get a chance to wish Jim a happy birthday, his email is jim@lasthippie.com. Take a peek at his website if you don’t know him and then send him a greeting. He’s one of the greats.

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