A couple of hours after Tom Davis died, his mother Jean told me how fondly she remembered the laughter that came from the basement when Tom and I started writing together in high school in Minnesota, more than 40 years ago. Tom and Dan Aykroyd created the Coneheads. He was the key collaborator with Bill Murray on Nick the lounge singer. People called him a brilliant comedian. He was. They called him an original. He was. I heard from our friends and colleagues how Tom’s voice was unique, how sometimes his stuff came seemingly from nowhere. How Tom had come up with the biggest laugh of the season in the rewrite of “Massive Headwound Harry.” Or how Tom had been the first to nail Ed McMahon’s attitude when he and I did “Khomeini the Magnificent.”
A number of months ago, in an essay titled “The Dark Side of Death,” Tom, who died July 19 at 59, wrote, “I wake up in the morning, delighted to be waking up, read, write, feed the birds, watch sports on TV, accepting the fact that in the foreseeable future I will be a dead person. I want to remind you that dead people are people too. There are good dead people and bad dead people. Some of my best friends are dead people. Dead people fought in every war. We’re all going to try it sometime. Fortunately for me, I have always enjoyed mystery and solitude.” Tom faced death with great humor and courage. That’s something we can all aspire to.
Franken is a U.S. Senator from Minnesota
This text originally appeared in the Aug. 06, 2012 issue of TIME magazine.
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