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One of the Greatest Entertainers in History is Gone

My earliest memories are of adults laughing. The unreserved, unrestrained joy as a grown-up got the giggles just thrilled me. I chased it like a drug, realizing that it was the most immediate and mutually beneficial means of getting adults on your side.

Long-term, humor would keep me from getting picked on by those bigger, better looking, more popular or just meaner than me. Longer term, it’s not been a bad attractant of the opposite sex. But at first, it was just about getting your voice heard, and attention paid. Humor was power.

And the first voice that I learned that from was Andy Griffith.

The Andy Griffith Show is an American staple. Ted Turner made sure of that. Generations have now seen life as it never was in Mayberry. Andy, Barney, Aunt Mae Opey are great, but it was Andy’s stand-up routines, his “storytelling” that changed my world.

My grandmother loved Andy. She had several cassette tapes of his gospel songs and a couple of comedy bits. I listened to this one dozens of times. Until I discovered George Carlin, no one made me laugh as much as Andy. Even now, two decades and change later, I smile and think of this bit every time I go to a football stadium.

This fall, I’l be calling high school games on the radio as I have for the past few years and thinking of Andy, and his amazement at all the goings-on there on that great big cow pasture.

Goodbye, Andy, and thanks for the laughs.