When Robert Schimmel died in 2010, he left behind him a body of work any comedian would have been proud to create. At 60 years old, Schimmel was a cancer survivor and was still earnestly touring across the country, so it was a shock to the comedy world when he was critically injured in a car crash and later succumbed to his injuries.
I was lucky enough to interview Schimmel twice; each time he was kind, soft-spoken and genuinely interested to be talking comedy with me. And now, Schimmel’s brother Jeff is in the process of producing a documentary about Robert– and like so many great projects these days, he’s looking to raise funds through Kickstarter. Jeff writes:
But before Robert Schimmel was introduced to audiences around the world, he was just my big brother, Bobby. Our family and his close friends were the first to be bombarded with his non-stop, often dangerous antics and cutting, verbal wit. Before he was ever on stage, he was performing at the kitchen table during dinner. He would always make me laugh, and I would always get smacked by our Mom. You see, she couldn’t reach Bobby, so I got it instead. Usually a backhand. My mother could have taught Bruce Lee a thing or two. When my sister Sandy and I were warned by our parents that Bobby was a bad influence, they may have been on to something. It was no coincidence that my brother’s earliest nicknames were “The Holy Terror” and “Devil.” Trust me, he wore those labels with a great deal of pride and always did his best to live up to everyone’s negative expectations.
Jeff and filmmaker Kelly Hommon want to raise $350,000 by March 14 to produce the film, titled Leave ‘Em Laughing. To get a better sense of the project, check out the official Kickstarter page. You’ll also want to watch the pitch video below, which is, in itself, a moving tribute to Schimmel.