I learned about Kevin Meaney from Dr. Katz Professional Therapist where he was a “patient” so it’s fittingly ironic that I would learn about his passing from a bona fide therapist, the amazing Ann Koplow, who mentioned Meaney’s sudden loss on her blog The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally. She’s also a regular visitor her which tickles me because she’s been lucky enough to know and work with some amazingly funny people, but that’s another story.
For many comedians of Kevin Meaney’s generation–he was born April 23rd, 1956–there was a distinct career trajectory: develop six good minutes of material, do Carson (later Letterman), get a sitcom. Movies and more fame would inevitably follow, but the idea seemed to be to get off the stage, out of the small dark clubs.
Was that Meaney’s ambition? Maybe. On his album That’s Not Right–which I was very lucky to find a copy of a few years ago in a music store–he impersonates his wife and mother, imagining both of them responding to some of his jokes with “That’s not right!” and his wife worrying that some of his jokes will alienate so many people “We’re going to lose the house!” He also talks about his hilarious and edgy Aunt Rose who I think was his inspiration for going into comedy. It seems like the stuff of a sitcom, but I prefer to think Meaney didn’t want to go that route. I hope he enjoyed working the clubs, alternately winning and alienating audiences.
He did briefly play the lead on the sitcom Uncle Buck which was panned and quickly canceled as well as working for several TV shows. He also did a really funny promo for Comedy Central, impersonating his mother saying, “Why do you have to do commercials for Comedy Central? Your brothers don’t do commercials for Comedy Central!” The promo ended with the tagline, “We’ve got every comedian and their mother.”
He also had a complicated personal life, openly admitting he was gay after he and his wife had been married for ten years and had a daughter.
I used to have That’s Not Right loaded on my iPhone and it would tickle me to play music on shuffle, to go from a song to Kevin Meaney yelling “I’m a dirty boy!” During some upgrade it slipped off and it’s been too long since I listened to it.
That’s not right.
Hail and farewell, Kevin Meaney.