Anyone who came through Hyenas, and later Laffs, came to know and love “Hoodie.” Gary Hood, a comedy mentor and the booker at Laffs Comedy Caffe in Tucson, has died. He was 66.
Born Aug. 18, 1949, Hood’s old comedy club bios for him say that he was a former child actor who had two Emmy nominations, and he graduated from Birmingham High School in Los Angeles. He was around for the early days of The Comedy Store, too.
But for today’s generation of stand-up comedians, they knew Hoodie best as a guy they wanted to impress when they were starting out in the comedy scenes of Dallas or Tucson. Whether he was working at Hyenas in Arlington of Laffs in Tucson, Hoodie had a bit of a temper and it came through in colorful language, but he also would talk your ears off about comedy and give you advice until the night turned to dawn.
The day before he died, he was reminding comedians about the Thursday night open mic at Laffs, and earlier this week, promoting his upcoming weekly appearance Friday morning on the radio.
A week ago, he posted this throwback photo of himself from the 1970s:
Hoodie had a standing invitation around 8:30 a.m. each Friday to dish about the week’s headlines and more with Frank and Sherm on “The World Famous Frank Show” on KLPX-FM in Tucson. He never awoke yesterday to make his weekly rounds on-air.
Instead, The World Famous Frank Show posted on Facebook: “Sad to hear that our good friend Gary Hood from Laffs has passed away. We’ll post up details on any service info that we get.”
And then comedians started offering their own testimonials to Hoodie on Facebook. Among them…
Zoltan Kaszas: “I’ll be in Tucson in August but now I know it won’t feel the same. RIP, friend”
Eddie Pence: “RIP Gary Hood “Hoodie”. You will be missed, Laffs won’t be the same. Booberries!”
Taylor Williamson: “Gary was the sweetest goofiest man. So much love to his family.”
Dustin Ybarra: “Gary Hood passed away. I was in High School when we met and he took me on my first road gig to Victoria Texas. My first time in a Newspaper was because of Gary. He was a comic. He taught me about red face and white face clowns. He got me a job answering phones at Hyenas. I probably saw him everyday for my first 4 or 5 years doing stand up. Then Gary went to AZ and I went to NYC. I saw him once out in Tuscon a few years ago. I was a fat nerdy kid with glasses and he was an old clown that taught me about comedy and life. Bye Hoodie, thanks for the lessons.”
Paul Varghese: “The most important thing a comic can give another comic is stage time.
Gary Hood gave me the most stage time ever. From clubs to restaurants to small dive bars in hillbilly towns. He controlled all of those crowds with unflappable swagger. It was impressive to watch. He passed away today and that’s why the world sucks a little more than it already does.”
Matt Sadler: “We lost him last night and I’ll never forget him. He was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. A comedy surgeon. He was able to dissect a joke and explain why it was funny and how it could be funnier. He taught me the difference between a good laugh and and easy laugh. He forgot more about comedy than most of us will ever know. I don’t think I ever got a hug from him while my feet were touching the floor. He made me want to be a better comic. I never wanted to disappoint him. When you came off stage and he said, “Good set, man” you knew he meant it and it made you swell with pride because he didn’t throw that shit to just anyone. His name was Gary Hood, but those that loved him called him “Hoodie.” He died the way he lived…gently and smoothly. Rest easy, sweet man.”
There’s not much footage of Hoodie onstage. Here’s a video shot of him from a phone last year at a “Comedy Karaoke” showcase where Hoodie is showcasing his breadth and depth of knowledge of other comedians’ jokes, winning over the crowd in the process.