The Comedy Store closed on Monday night for a private event, the memorial for the late great comedian Steven Brody, aka Brody Stevens, aka Steven Brody Stevens.
His best friend and comedy benefactor, Zach Galifianakis, walked onstage first before the memorial itself began officially to address the crowd of friends and family gathered in The Comedy Store’s Main Room. Stevens often used the Periscope app to broadcast his comings and goings, his walkabouts, and his live performances. So, too, this memorial had two different Periscopes broadcasting tonight.
Galifianakis spoke sincerely and humorously about his friend, gone too soon, who had taken his own life two and a half weeks ago.
“Thank you very much for coming here tonight. They just told me to start speaking, so I’m going to, and if I start crying, please bring out your cameras.” Laughter. “And get as close as you can to the stage and film it.”
“I met Brody 21 years ago in New York, and barely remembered him. As he used to say, ‘I’ve known Zach for five years. He’s known me for two.’” Laughter.
“And shortly after that, at the Chicago comedy festival, I got to spend time with Brody. We went to a baseball game, he and I and Judy Gold. And the baseball game was over, I went back to my hotel. Well, this was late 90s. Motel. And there’s a message blinking on the line in my room. And I play it. And it said, ‘Hey Zach. Steven Brody Stevens here. Really enjoyed our time at the baseball game. Wanted to take our friendship to the next level.” Laughter/applause. “And at the time, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I thought, this guy will do.” Laughter. “Brody and I maintained that friends — I’m going to try to be as brief as I can, with the history, to honor him. We were friends. We became very close friends, because he, as everybody knows in this room, his spark, his everything was to make you laugh. And that was really — Brody and I were opposites. We were complete opposites in a lot of ways. But the fact that we just love that laugh, this basis of his, is what drove us together. Politically, no way did we get along.” Laughter. “But when I was a comic, and had moved to town here, I didn’t really know anybody. I wasn’t depressed, like how people are that have real problems. But I was down. And somehow Brody smelled it. Because tenderness cuts through pain. And he smelled it in me, and he was at my house every day. I didn’t want him there everyday, trust me.” Laughter. “It’s the last thing I needed.” Laughter. “And he sat there in my house, and played the tambourine!” Laughter. “And somehow he got me out of this funk from his absurdity. And I got over my, you know, little pity party or whatever I was going through. Years later… I don’t know why I’m turning these pages, there’s nothing on them.” Laughter. “What did you think, I was prepared?” Laughter.
“Years later, Brody meets a woman that I was starting to get very serious with. She was Canadian. And I think Brody had known a few, couple of the ladies that I’d dated. So, she was Canadian. It was kind of the height of the war.” Laughter. “And for some reason, I wanted Brody to be my first friend that I introduced her to.” Laughter. “It didn’t go very well. But what was so great about it, is that Brody just started getting political, because he knew she Canadian. And in the middle of his diatribe, his phone goes off, and it was the Star Spangled Banner.” Laughter.
“There’s the moments in life that you’d get to spend with Brody outside of the comedy clubs, that you really got to see the light on him. You know, these are dark rooms we are in. And Brody had a lot of light in his comedy community, here at The Comedy Store, at Largo, at open mics, at youth hostels. I didn’t go see Arcade Fire once because Brody was doing a show at this cell phone store.” Laughter and applause.
“In a city that sometimes feels like it lacks community, in a time where we kind of feel like we’re lacking community, Brody was this person that was everywhere. I mean, the fact that Brody — there’s not a comic that Brody didn’t, that Brody didn’t, that someone didn’t have a story about him. He was infuriating. There were a lot of things about him, that were hard to take. He was complicated. But he was so funny. And that’s all I needed. And I think that speaks volumes in a human being, to bring out joy the way that man did. Years later, I took my wife to go see Brody do warm-up, because I know how to show a lady a good time.” Laughter. “Don’t worry, honey, it’s the guy with the Star Spangled Banner!” Laughs.
“The brilliance of him performing often was never appreciated, I think, because these are weird venues to make strangers laugh at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. But I went to see Brody do warm-up for The Best Damn Sports Show. Half of the room were soldiers that had returned from war, and half of the room were civilians. As a lot of you know, Brody has a thing where he says, ‘Where’d you go to high school?’ With the civilians, he goes, ‘Where’d you go to high school?’ Somebody goes, ‘Columbine.’ Brody turns to the soldiers afterward, as if to get their mind off what the person just said, he goes, ‘Think of the war! Think of the war!’” Laughter.
“And the feeling that I got from Brody was the feeling that you’re supposed to get when you’re hanging out with a really funny person, is that chemistry that’s released in your head. He always left me, even if we got into arguments about this and that, he always got me laughing. He always had to leave with me laughing. That was just part of it. In his sadder moments, he was still funny. When he came to my farm in North Carolina…sorry I’m venting. I don’t know if this is helpful or not. I’m just talking out there. I don’t really have a point to it all. He came to my farm in North Carolina. I had a bachelor party for some friends, for guys. And everybody had left. Brody had not spoken all weekend. Which, if you know, that’s something else. And I was sweeping my floor, and I remember I can only hear the sound of the broom hitting the hardwood floor, how quiet it was. And Brody was sitting on my couch on his telephone. Just staring at it for what seemed like hours. Then he finally says, ‘Hey Zach!’ ‘Yes, Brody, what?’ Boy George follows me on Twitter.” Laughter and applause.
“I hate to make like a tacky parallel, but…this sunset, this sunset that we’ve all experienced over the last few weeks, and the sun setting on Brody and on our hearts, it’s been a real beautiful light. I’m real proud of that. Dave and Craig and I’m sure a lot of other people have put this together. I’m real proud of the comedy community. I’m really happy that Brody touched so many people in a positive way. This sunset is a hard one to look away from, and I want to thank each and every one of you for loving Brody and appreciating him. And to his mother Jackie, to his sister Stephanie, this is the work he’s been doing. Thank you very much.”
This is one of the Periscopes from the Brody Stevens Memorial, via Brian Redban. Action begins at 28:40.