My mentor, Digby Wolfe, passed away. I took his comedy writing class probably about twelve times in college. He awakened a powerful force in my life and that force was the desire to make people laugh. Thus I am here writing a comedy blog.
I started off as a computer science major in college and wandered into Digby’s class. I didn’t know that writing a couple of sketches would change my life. Digby told me in his office that success is not measured in being the brightest but being the person that stays the latest. I really took the idea to heart. Years later, I am still writing comedy. At the time of my MFA, I was the only one who started the program writing comedy and finished the program writing comedy. I feel it’s a part of who I am and Digby is part of my comedy.
He always gave people opportunity in class. He made sure every voice was heard and gave an outlet to those that wouldn’t be taken seriously. Instead of questioning the validity or logistics of a Llama on stage, he would question on whether the Llama should be purple or blue. Whatever crazy, wild, and outlandish ideas would come from our heads would have a home in his classroom.
I remember when he asked me to help write a radio show of comedy sketches. I felt very blessed to be a part of a team of writers who would help create a piece of comedy that would be blasted into the airwaves and by proxy out into outerspace. Would an alien civilization pick up our show and make first contact with Earth? Digby would ask, “Yes, Aaron but could the Aliens have Llamas?” But that’s what Digby did. He gave us confidence and encouraged the those that never really considered themselves normal. He made us leave the classroom and put our comedy out there.
That’s how I met many of my good friends. We left the classroom by creating a sketch comedy group called Eat, Drink, and Be Larry. Digby will live on in a sense. Every one in Larry that shared laughter with the world also shared an essence of Digby. Digby is the grandfather of Hamlet The Vampire Slayer. Every time I sit down to write something funny, he will be there. And it’s not just me. At his memorial, there were slews of people that he touched. They will each pass on a part of Digby. In a sense, he is very alive and well. He will continue to inspire who ever his protégées inspire.
Anyone who receives the gift of laughter from me will only be doing so because of my inspiration from him. So am I not sad anyone, but blessed to be a part of something greater than myself. For there is nothing greater than the gift of inspiration and the feeling that you can succeed. That’s is what Digby has done. Digby Wolfe, I thank you.
And I leave this post with a line that Digby wrote. It’s probably not his most memorable. But I remember seeing it when I was a kid watching Nick @ Nite well past my bedtime. I remember quoting it to my friends. I remember how excited I was when he confirmed my question on whether he wrote that line. It’s a line that captures the abrupt change and excitement of comedy. It’s the spirit and the heart of comedy for me.
A German WWII soldier climbs out of the bushes.
German Solider: Very interesting… but stupid.