Written by Dave Kelly:
I wrote this story about Dave Kelly Live #6 - and the mayhem around the show. http://davekellylive.com/featured/dave-kelly-live-6/
But it wasn’t the whole story. It wasn’t the guts of that show. It wasn’t even the gutsiest part of the show. Because I couldn't talk about it then. It wasn’t my story to talk about it. It was Jim’s.
Jimmy and I have had a lot of beers and laughs over the years, and now and then we’d talk about doing a show together. I’d host the show and he’d be like the buddy at the bar, sitting beside me, having beers, saying dumb shit, saying smart shit, laughing. Mostly laughing.
So when we got the idea for Dave Kelly Live, Jim was the first guy I called. “You can sit on stage, drink beer and be a pain in the ass.”
“Perfect.” he said. And that’s exactly what happened for Dave Kelly Live #1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. He showed up, served beer to the guests, had a beer and sat on stage with me, saying dumb shit, saying smart shit, and we laughed.
Mostly we laughed.
Two weeks before show #6, Jim told me that the cancer he thought he beat by getting his kidney taken out was back. And it was back hard. The doctors told him his cancer was incurable. They said people in his condition typically lived between a year and two years. The freaks make it to ten years.
All I heard was “ a year.”
My friend Jim Button told he had between a year and two years.
And now, he was dying. I mean, we’re all dying, but he was given a timetable. A short one. Jim is younger than me, (not by much, but enough for him to think he’s better than me). He’s a husband. He’s a dad. His kids are young. And selfishly, he’s a friend of mine. I think Jim’s a great friend of almost everyone in Calgary, but selfishly, he’s also a great friend of mine. Ugh.
I couldn’t imagine what he was going through, what he was dealing with. What do you say? What do you do?
So I told him I loved him. Then I biked home and cried. And talked to Blythe. And it’s all I could think about.
And then I realized the next Dave Kelly Live was in a week. And we had parts of the script that had Jim in it. Saying dumb shit. Saying smart shit. And making all of us laugh.
I called him the next day and said, “Hey look, I’m guessing you don’t want to do the show, and that’s totally cool.”
And he stopped me and said, “No. I want to do the show. I have enough sad faces around me. I need happy things and happy faces. I want to do the show.”
I told him, “Jim, the show is in a week.”
“Yeah, well the doctor didn’t say less than a week. I have lots of time. And I want to be around people who smile. People who laugh. I want to laugh.”
How do you make a guy who just got told that he has incurable cancer laugh?
You call Glenn Street who runs one of the world’s biggest mascot making companies and ask him to come up with a mascot costume for Dave Kelly Live that we can force Jim into wearing. The dorkier, the better.
Hilarious, right? And it was.
At the start of the show, I told Jim he had to go off-stage for a minute. He didn’t know why. When he got backstage, Ailsa, our stage manager told him he had to put on the mascot costume. He had no choice. It was dark back there and it wasn’t easy. While that was happening, Glenn Street did a “Show And Tell” segment on stage with me about his mascot business Street Characters, one of Calgary’s best business stories that no one knows about.
And then came time for the big reveal.
Jim staggered out, not really able to see where he was going. He was already stumbling and sweating. And it was hard to hear him. And I was laughing like a loon.
And then Glenn pointed out that Jim had put the pants of the mascot costume on backwards. So the hole where the tail would go was right where a hole for a tail would go … if you put the pants on backwards.
The audience was hysterical.
And then, when he went to sit, the big mascot ass hit the chair, the front of the pants flipped, the hole was pointing straight up and he almost fell over. Which made the audience laugh even more.
But when he said, “Hey Dave… Dave” and I looked around at him and he said, “Watch this,” and put his beer right in the tail hole, the audience lost their minds.
It’s the best laugh Jim has ever gotten on the show.
And for the rest of the show, Jim sat there in his costume, eventually taking the head off because he was sweating too much, and he said smart shit, and he said dumb shit, and we laughed.
Most shows I’m thinking, “Is the audience liking this? Is this working.” But not that night. All I was thinking was, “Is Jimmy laughing?”
And he was.
So this summer he’s been at the cottage in the Muskokas. Relaxing with his family, taking his meds and keeping as many happy faces around him as he can. And keeping his face as happy as he can.
I texted him last week and said, “Hey - do you still wanna do the show this year? I don’t want to assume.”
And he sent me this text.
Still wanna. Tracey sat me down today, justifiably, as I was getting a bit draggy and letting the cancer drugs get the best of me. Am going to put extra effort out as of noon today to be engaged and cheery. Things like DKL are like little brass rings for me to chase. Fuck this is tough, but I'm tougher. So umm, yes. Thank you so much for including me.
Now I can guarantee this. Jimmy is going to be there because it’s fun and because it’s funny. There won’t be any sad faces
And the DKL team will work as hard as we always have to be sure the audience is getting a good show.
But there might be just a little bit of me that’s listening for a sound from the right of the stage. A little bit of me that’s asking one question.
Is Jimmy laughing?
Jim here - thanks for the laughs Dave.