Monday, October 17, 2005

TV Funnyman Charles Rocket

"They've put a net there to catch their fall
Like it'll stop anyone at all
What they don't know is when nature calls, you go"
-Barenaked Ladies, "War on Drugs"

Charles Rocket killed himself on October 7. Some will say "Charles Who?" Others will speculate that he committed suicide in 1981 when he "let the F-bomb fly" on live TV. Charles was part of the house-cleaning cast of Saturday Night Live in the 1980-81 season. You remember - the one that nobody watched?
I was watching. I was watching a comedy car crash from a distance. You had to slow down and look at it, even though it was horrible. Still, Charles was the pet of new SNL producer Jean Doumanian. He was going to be the next Chevy Chase or die trying. Again, that death was put off by some twenty-plus years.
After he was unceremoniously fired (what do you have to do to get fired from that show? You can be as bad as you like, but don't say "that word"), he kept his head above water and worked in fluff like "Earth Girls Are Easy" and plenty of episodic television. He had a recurring role on "Moonlighting" as David Addison's brother. I remember at the time thinking, "Hey, that's Charles Rocket. He's still around?" Different answer now.
Charles even had a nice little part in "Dances With Wolves." He wore a beard and rode a horse, and he was just a little sympathetic to Lieutenant Dunbar when they came to take him back to civilization. He ended up getting whacked by Lakota warriors. Maybe that's what got him thinking way back in 1990.
For the past decade, Charles has been making a living as the voice of various animated characters in features and video games. His star never fully faded from view, but he got third billing in his next to last film behind Brian Austin Green (of "Beverly Hills, 90210" fame). The suffering must have been exquisite.

"They say that Jesus and mental health
Are just for those who can help themselves
But what good is that when you live in hell on earth?"
-Barenaked Ladies, "War on Drugs"

1 comment:

Robin said...

I found myself wishing yesterday that I could have told him how much fun he's given me....every time I see him on screen I know there's a good time on its way. Hard to believe.