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Showing respect: Five thoughts from Friday’s Rodney Dangerfield birthday tribute

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November 22 would have been comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s 92nd birthday.
AP Photo
Jason Harris

1. The Rodney Booth in the back of the Laugh Factory, a place where you could imagine Rodney sitting when the club was his (back then known as Rodney’s Place), now features a variety of memorabilia from movies Dangerfield starred in including Ladybugs. and Meet Wally Sparks. A large statue of Rodney stands next to it, as if he’s still watching.

2. Harry Basil—club booker, headliner for the evening and Rodney’s opening act for 20 years—led the tribute, closing it out nicely by playing off or Dangerfield’s famous “no respect” catchphrase by repeating the mantra of the night, “Here’s some respect, Rodney.” Basil walks around after the show wearing one of Rodney’s old robes, like his mentor used to do.

3. The only awkwardness of the night comes when Rodney impersonator Erv Dahl takes the stage. After a full comedy show and some nice anecdotes, this just seems to confuse the crowd. Basil quickly brings out a birthday cake and leads the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” on what would have been Rodney’s 92nd.

4. Rodney’s widow Joan, who just launched the comprehensive Dangerfield website Rodney.com, seems delighted by the evening. “It’s such a heartwarming experience. I don’t know how to explain it. Sitting in a booth dedicated to Rodney and looking around me seeing some of his belongings, it just took me right back to the moment. I just went back in time. It was phenomenal. I’m really glad I came. This was a wonderful way to spend Rodney’s birthday.”

5. I can’t say for sure, but I think Rodney would have most enjoyed the afterparty, where friends, family and comics kibitz backstage, sharing drinks and stories. There’s a feeling of camaraderie in the air that Dangerfield, a man who helped so many young comics get their big break, surely would have loved.

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