Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gary Coleman

So sorry to hear about Gary Coleman’s passing. What a sad and all-too-brief life he led.

When I heard the news of his death I have to admit that one of my thoughts was what are they going to do now on AVENUE Q? AVENUE Q is the Tony winning Broadway musical that is essentially the R-rated version of SESAME STREET. One of the characters in the musical is supposed to be Gary Coleman. And he’s the punchline to a big song in the first act. The song is “It Sucks to be Me” and features all of the Muppet-like puppets trying to top each other with how bad their life is. This is how it ends:

PRINCETON (one of the Muppets)
Well, I started at Avenue A,
but so far everything is out
of my price range. But this
neighborhood looks a lot cheaper!
Oh, and look - a "For Rent" sign!

You need to talk to
the superintendent.
Let me get him.

Great, thanks!

Yo, Gary!

I'm comin'! I'm comin'!

Oh my God!
It's Gary Coleman!

Yes I am!
I'm Gary Coleman
From TV's
Diff'rent Strokes
I made a lotta money
That got stolen
By my folks!
Now I'm broke and
I'm the butt
Of everyone's jokes,
But I'm here -
The Superintendent!
On Avenue Q -

It sucks to be you.

You win!

Gary also takes the lead in the song “Schadenfreude!” (the German word for "happiness at the misfortune of others!")

Jeff Marx, who conceived AVENUE Q said lines were being changed that were now not appropriate, and after last night's performance a tribute to Gary was held.

Reports are that the real Gary Coleman was not very pleased with how he was portrayed in the show. But he came off as a real good sport. And it just reinforced what we always knew -- Gary Coleman was a wonderful guy. He handled success and fame with humility and gratitude and suffered enormous adversity with grace and humor. He was a great role model, a gifted comic actor, and at the end of the day -- a very big man.


doggans said...

Everyone else has been making the "Watcha talking about" reference, but I'll always remember Coleman for his cameo voice as Kenny Falmouth in the game "Curse of Monkey Island".

Bob Summers said...

I think the saddest thing is that whenever you saw Gary in an interview, it was clear that he was quite intelligent and gifted.

I often wondered what might have happened if his parents had not spent all his money. I understand how he was "not right" for other parts later on.

I wonder how many adults are chewed up and spit out by the Hollywood machine? Of course, the mistakes made by adults are their own.

Mr. Hollywood said...

I had one dealing with Gary and it was quite humorous. Some years back I got in an elevator in Century City in the ABC complex across from the Century Plaza Hotel. As the doors closed, in ran Gary Coleman. He pushed the button and the elevator started to move ... then abruptly stop. We were between floors and stalled. Just Gary and me. And poor Gary started to get so angry. Punching the buttons and yelling into the phone. I calmed him down by saying "Look at it this way. At least it's quiet in here." He laughed, a few minutes later we were on our way and he thanked me. Well, thank you Gary. Be at peace.

Alyson said...

I was wondering the same thing re: Avenue Q when I heard the news yesterday. It's a great show, but I thought to myself, "Wait, is it still ok to laugh/enjoy the jokes at Gary Coleman's expense?

John said...

Best thing I guess would be to write out the Coleman parts and find another former child/teen-age major star who's career has done a header into the dumpster. Scott Baio or Leif Garrett come to mind, though if the show wants to go the distaff route, there's always Lindsey Lohan (though admittedly if they picked either of the last two, "Avenue Q" could end up having to re-write the part again very quickly).

-bee said...

I don't know why - but my top memory of Gary Coleman was of him doing some hilarious guest spots playing himself on Tom Arnold's short-lived but quite funny "The Jackie Thomas Show".

(or the show was pretty funny at first, if memory serves it got messed up after bad ratings inspired some 'fixes' to make it more commercial).

Anonymous said...

I think the saddest thing is that Conrad Bain may outlive his TV children.

Pat Reeder said...

I've been wondering the same thing. I'd never seen "Avenue Q," but I have tickets to the national touring company here in Dallas next Friday and had just ordered the CD from Amazon. The Dallas Morning News reports that they made a pre-show announcement last night about Gary and dedicated the show to him. I guess I'll find out by next Friday how they've rewritten it.

Dwacon said...

It is always problematic to base humor at someone's expense.

Look at all the Michael Jackson jokes and impersonators who are not looked at as completely inappropriate.

Just as a general rule... self-effacing is okay, picking on others, not so...

Jeffrey Leonard said...

I loved Gary Coleman after I saw him on his very first T.V. appearance on "Fernwood Tonite" starring Martin Mull and Fred Willard. He was discovered by Alan Thicke.

wersorse: Even badder than the first sorse...

Anonymous said...

I don't know why - but my top memory of Gary Coleman was of him doing some hilarious guest spots playing himself on Tom Arnold's short-lived but quite funny "The Jackie Thomas Show"."

I remember a scene in which he's playing poker with Arnold; he's out of chips but wants to stay in the game so he asks if he can bet his good kidney. I thought that was brilliant. I wish it was posted on You Tube.

Richard Y said...

Saw this this morning

Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2010 10:20 am

An award-winning play that features a character based on Gary Coleman is planning to keep that character, even after the actor's death.

The creative team behind "Avenue Q" has decided to make only small tweaks to the role played by Danielle Thomas. Coleman died Friday in Utah after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

"Avenue Q" is show about twentysomething New Yorkers, featuring both humans and puppets. It won three 2004 Tony Awards, including best musical.

The Coleman character is a child star who now works as a building superintendent.

It is now running off-Broadway.


Information from: The New York Times,

SharoneRosen said...

yeah, me too... My first thought was, "how sad." My second thought was "what will happen to Ave Q?????" I wanted soooo much to say something about it on Facebook, but was afraid I'd appear waaaay to jaded.. didn't want to tip my hand.
RIP Gary

Anonymous said...

Not to nitpick, but since this is a writer's blog, credit is important: AVENUE Q was conceived by Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez, not Jeff alone.