When I was a teenager in Dundas, Ontario Canada and I watched the Bob Hope Specials, the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson where his guests would be comedians like Jonathan Winters, Peter Sellars, Bill Cosby, John Cleese or Richard Pryor, I would often fantasize about being on the Tonight Show with Johnny, plugging my own special. Of course, I couldn’t tell any of my friends that. They would’ve thought I was insane. At that time, Hollywood was about the same distance from Dundas as Earth was from Mars. But I fantasized anyway, secretly and privately. When I was in high school, I never auditioned for student plays. I didn’t want to be in a high school play. I wanted to be on TV, in Hollywood. So I remained in the audience until a few years later when I attended McMaster University met some like-minded people there – Marty Short and Eugene Levy. They were like me. They wanted to be in real show business. Of course, we did some plays at McMaster. But we never really took them seriously. We were biding our time, waiting for the opportunity to find a way in.
Amazingly, my fantasies ultimately came true.
Years later I was a guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson plugging my own CBS series, The Dave Thomas Show. (video of appearance on videos page). I was very proud of myself that night because I made Johnny laugh, I mean really laugh. Later I was invited to have lunch with Johnny and a couple of his writers. Dream come true. I also worked with Jonathan Winters on one of his specials, Jonathan Winters Salute to Baseball. And I did a couple of Bob Hope specials – including his 90th Birthday Special on NBC where I was one of a handful of guests performing to celebrate his career. I co-starred in the Warner Brothers feature film, Moving, with Richard Pryor. I was a guest star in the Cosby Show and was invited to a special lunch with Bill. And no, he did not drug and rape me. I even got to work with my favorite Python, John Cleese in the movie Rat Race. And when I made Cleese laugh, well, that was about as good as it gets!
It totally amazes me that I got to work with so many of my idols, so many incredibly talented people, and have so much fun. If I could just send a message back in time to that kid in Dundas that all the incredible things he hoped for were actually going to come true, I’m sure that kid would have thought it was a mean-spirited syfy joke.
And it hasn’t stopped. I’m still meeting more incredibly talented people every day. Still working, still doing what I love.