Bob Seibel was a fixture in the Boston comedy scene for decades, performing even into his 70s, when his signature bit about elderly drivers was now about his peer group.
Seibel may not have performed as regularly in recent years, and when he did, it was in the suburbs — which I must figure as the only reason I never met him in the two-plus years I lived there and worked at the Boston Herald, although every comedian from three generations who came up in the scene there had only the nicest things to say about him. And they came out to support him this spring when he was battling cancer. Lenny Clarke, Steve Sweeney, John Pizzi and several more turning out for a benefit in his honor in April.
Seibel died July 15 from brain cancer. He was 73.
“Bob had a zest for life like no one else,” Lenny Clarke told The Daily Item in Lynn, Mass. “I’m a better guy for having known Bob Seibel.”
“Bob is one of the most charitable people, constantly giving back to the community and people in need – and now he’s in need,” said Pizzi. “He’s always been there to help people.”
And he could joke about his plight on Facebook throughout the winter and spring. In January, Seibel posted on Facebook: “Just noticed that one of the fundraisers being held for me has a notation that I suffer from brain and bone cancer. There is no involvement outside the brain. The old bones are still creaking on.”
A month before he died, in June, Seibel wrote: “Hearing from my peeps that it is already “open season” on Seibel bits. Which means I must be a pretty good comic!”
Seibel grew up just north of Boston in Lynn, graduating from St. Mary’s Boys High School, then Salem State, and taught history at both of Lynn’s public high schools (Classical and English) before he tried his hand at stand-up. St. Mary’s inducted him into its “Hall of Fame” in May. Seibel wrote then: “A lot of fun seeing old friends and classmates. Quite an honor. Thank you everyone!”
When he wasn’t running around onstage, he was just plain running — completing 17 Boston Marathons. He also climbed mountains, flew small planes, and learned to scuba dive.
He’s survived by his companion, Diana Reintges, a nephew and several cousins.
Here’s what Dane Cook had to say when Seibel died:
Bob Seibel has passed away. Most of you may not know the name but I shared the stage many times with Bob as a young comedian in and around the New England area. Siebel always cracked me up. He always delivered everything he had for every crowd he performed in front of. Most of the time when you hear stories from people that “made it” (a term that should be up for a ripe Huffington Post discussion) their heroes are others that accomplished great media heights before them but the truth is there are more Bob Seibels in the world that inspire those who achieve.
I remember watching Bob in 1991 at some shithole back-ass nowhere joint (that was a blast to perform at) and he was all over the stage. A swirling dervish if I may and I may. I honestly thought back then he was 82 years old and I was worried about his physical shtick. As minutes went by I realized he was in total control of his faculties and he was killing NO destroying the room in a way many of the comedians today that “made it” can’t and don’t do unless they are ripping off a funnier act from back in the day.
Bob Seibel was one hell of an entertainer and he should be remembered as a master of his craft. As a stand up comedian he inspired me to let go up there and do two things at once that I witnessed him do. Be completely loose and off the cuff but do it with a complete control and solid material.
Thank you Bob Seibel for the chats we had. Thank you for being a great stand up and always respecting your crowds. If you saw a Bob Seibel show you saw a true entertainer. RIP Bob and my love to your family and fans.
Here’s the view from the crowd of Seibel portraying a senior citizen slumped behind the driver’s wheel:
And here he was still going strong in 2012, performing on The Steve Katsos Show.
I’ll let Jimmy Dunn have the last words here: “Rest in Peace, Bob Seibel, you crazy, beautiful lunatic.”