Del Close

“€œIt’s not as frightening as it sounds,”€ the authors insist rather unconvincingly, describing a sample invocation:

Thou hast taken control of my good sense. When thou art with me, I am debased and dishonored.

Oh, and Close claimed his cocaine addiction was cured by a coven of Toronto witches.

Yes, for aside from his cult-leader shtick, Close was your typical morbid, manic, heavily medicated modern comic. Not surprisingly, he and student John Belushi were best buddies.

In the unwatchable movie Wired (1989), a comedy coach clearly patterned on Close screams at “€œBelushi”€ (played by Michael Chiklis), “€œLet the demons loose!”€

The coach’s furious Freudian litany is familiar to even the casual student of humor:

Comedy is aggression….”€œKnock “€™em dead. Heh-heh, I murdered “€™em!”€…Comedy’s an assault….Kill ‘em. Make ‘em laugh “€™til it hurts…”€™til they have a fuckin”€™ hemorrhage! That’s comedy.

And yet the only people who ever actually died were the ones on the stage, not in the audience.

Later in life, Close felt compelled to tell new students that “€œthe advice I gave Belushi made him a star, it didn”€™t kill him”€”€”a strange statement if you”€™re simply teaching mundane inhibition-reducing exercises to budding actors.

So yes, Bible-thumpers wasted a generation looking for covens in all the wrong places. Making fun of them is, well, fun. But a slender satanic thread has run through American pop culture ever since 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby (whose director lost his wife soon thereafter in a frenzied cult murder spree). Never mind that The Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath”€”even Sammy Davis, Jr.“€”flirted with the Devil back when membership in Anton LaVey’s “€œchurch”€ was commonplace in Hollywood.

Next time a comedian jokes about “€œstupid”€ Christian sacraments”€”or even the Bushes”€™ membership in Skull & Bones (while ignoring John Kerry’s)”€”you”€™ll be forgiven for wondering what sorts of creepy rituals that comedian has ever performed with a straight face and whether or not, somewhere, Screwtape is getting the last laugh.

 



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