Posts Tagged ‘John Schnauder’

Southern Exposure

April 11, 2014

Thursday April 10th, 2014 – Chicago, IL

The next time I say something to bash the South, someone needs to give me a swift kick in the hush puppies to shut my mouth. And while I am not necessarily a fan of the culture as a whole, I do know quite a few truly sweet people that are natives, and I need to keep quiet out of respect.

James Gregory is a proud Southerner for example, and he is anything but an idiot or inbred. He does not dip snuff at the dinner table, and always wears shoes. James could buy and sell me like a can of hominy. He does like pro wrestling – but so do I. That’s one Southern trait I do embrace.

Sammy Marten and John Marks are also comedian friends of mine that happen to be located in Memphis. I think John is from not far away, but Sammy is from New Orleans. I have always had a disdain for that horrific stench ridden city filled with drunkenness and debauchery, and I never liked their putrid cuisine as a rule either. But Sammy is a great guy, so my opinion is softened.

There are two more New Orleans area comedians I’ve worked with over the years named ‘Red Bean’ and ‘Mutzie’ respectively. No joke. There was also a guy that passed away by the name of John Schnauder aka ‘The Silver Fox’ who was as gentle of a human as I have ever encountered.

Out of respect to all these people, I don’t feel comfortable lighting into Southerners like I may have at one time. There are always exceptions to any rule, and I guess I am a shining one myself. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and I have never had a beer in my life. That’s rare, but true.

A shining example of a Southern gentleman is not only my friend Rick Wey, but his father too. Rick is a hilarious comedian from Nashville, but has a great corporate job that he has stayed with to feed his family. Rick is one of my favorite people, and I can see where he inherited his class.

I met Rick’s dad at a ball game years ago, and could instantly see how on the ball he was. He’s now 80, but I’d think twice about tangling with him mentally or physically. He would likely kick my ass quite thoroughly both in a scuffle and in Scrabble. I can only hope to be that with it at 80.

Rick had to come to Chicago for an annual meeting for his job and brought his dad with him so they could see a baseball game at Wrigley Field. They’re both rabid sports fans like I am, but the thought of being able to see a game like that with my dad is far beyond my realm of imagination.

That kind of treat was never in the cards for me, but seeing Rick and his dad have it put me in a terrific mood. That’s how life is supposed to be, and at least somebody was smart enough to pull it off correctly. Rick showed me the picture of them together and it almost made me shed tears.

Even though he’s a few years older than me, I could still see the kid in Rick’s eyes proud to be hanging out with his dad at a baseball game. I was happy for him, and flattered that his dad asked Rick to ask me to dinner with them. I happened to be off, and drove into the city to hang with the both of them. We had a lot of laughs, and just a spectacular evening of fun. Friends like that have a top spot in my heart no matter where they are from. The Wey family has solved life’s puzzle.

My friend Rick Wey happens to be from The South, but he would be a gentleman no matter where he's from. He learned it from his father.

My friend Rick Wey happens to be from the South, but he would be a gentleman no matter where he’s from. He learned it from his father.

James Gregory is another Southerner that is anything but stupid. He is one of my comedy and marketing heroes. MUCH respect.

James Gregory is another Southerner that is anything but stupid. He is one of my comedy and marketing heroes. MUCH respect. http://www.funniestman.com.

John Marks is another Southern comedian who breaks the stereotype. He's very funny, and a sharp business mind too. www.bigfunnyproductions.com

John Marks is another Southern comedian who breaks the stereotype. He’s very funny, and a sharp business mind too. http://www.bigfunnyproductions.com

John's partner is Sammy Marten from New Orleans. Not only is he a funny comedian, he's a world class chef. www.bigfunnyproductions.com.

John’s partner is Sammy Marten from New Orleans. Not only is he a funny comedian, he’s a world class chef. http://www.bigfunnyproductions.com.

I worked with Mutzie from New Orleans on Carnival Cruise Lines. He was wildly popular with the guests and fun to hang with off stage. www.mutzie.com

I worked with Mutzie from New Orleans on Carnival Cruise Lines. He was wildly popular with the guests and fun to hang with off stage. http://www.mutzie.com

'Red Bean' is another funny guy I worked with from New Orleans. I never liked the town itself, but the people from there have been really great in my experience. www.badboyredbean.com.

‘Red Bean’ is another funny guy I worked with from New Orleans. I never liked the town itself, but the people from there have been really great in my experience. http://www.badboyredbean.com.

The Silver Fox

February 1, 2013

Tuesday January 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I was saddened today to learn of the passing of a comedian I worked with many years ago from New Orleans named John Schnauder. We only worked together a couple of times, but he remains one of my all time favorite human beings I’ve ever crossed paths with. He was a wonderful soul.

We first worked together in Jacksonville, FL in the mid ‘80s at a club called The Punch Line. It was part of a chain that started from of the original Punch Line in Atlanta, and there were about a dozen clubs throughout the Southeast during the heyday. It was a great run of well paying work.

I was booked as the opening act with John being the feature. Shirley Hemphill from the sitcom “What’s Happening” was the headliner, and the first real celebrity I had ever worked with for an entire week. She was kept in a nice hotel, and John and I shared a week in the ‘comedy condo’.

There could and should be a book written about what goes on in comedy condos, but that’s not the focus right now. All it is is an apartment where comedians stay when they’re in town to work a comedy club. It’s an investment for the club rather than spending money to keep us in hotels.

Anyway, I got to spend that whole week getting to know John and I liked him more by the day. He was in his 50s then, MUCH older than the average comedian of that day – especially one that wasn’t a headliner. He had raised a family of seven children, and decided he wanted to live out a dream and be a comedian. He was very humble, and absolutely loved everything about comedy.

Most comedians – me included – get into comedy to fill an ugly void we never were able to fill at home with our families or lack thereof. John was completely different. He was no dented can, and that’s probably what I liked about him. He was warm and friendly, and it was contagious not only to me but to audiences too. He was extremely likeable, and loaded with charisma to boot.

He billed himself as ‘The Silver Fox’ of comedy, and his New Orleans accent was up front and a big part of who he was. I’ve often said how much I can’t stand that smelly hell hole personally, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like the people who come from there. They’re extremely friendly.

John Schnauder falls into this category, and we really hit it off that week. We were able to stay in touch for a few years, but this was before the internet when that was a lot more difficult to do. I hadn’t seen him in years, but I thought of him when his beloved New Orleans Saints made it to the Super Bowl. That alone caused me to cheer for them, and when they won I smiled for John.

John’s granddaughter Rhiannon Schnauder Perry informed me of his passing, and I posted my condolences to the family via the guest book. There was a large album of photographs from his life that really touched me, as most of them were him next to his kids or grandchildren and there were smiles on everyone’s faces. His love and radiance just shined through. He was a mensch of epic proportions, and just because he never hit the big time in show business doesn’t mean he is anything less than an outstanding success and winner in the game of life. He lived his dream, but also had a loving family. To me, that’s true success. Much respect to The Silver Fox. I miss him.