Pearland comedian Dick Kendall hates to admit that his ex-wife was a great housekeeper.
“When we got divorced, she kept the house,” he says.
Kendall, 82, found that joke in a bevy of books he checked out from the Houston Public Library when he decided to become a stand-up comedian.
It was 1984, after 1983 had been a bad year,” he said. “Out of all the books I checked out, that is the only joke I kept.”
Instead, Kendall started paying more attention to “stupid stuff” that happened all around him, and the yucks started coming.
Kendall recently performed for his neighbors at Country Place, a gated 55-plus community in northwest Pearland. He’s also a fixture on international cruises and at other venues, including a favorite gig — retirement homes.
Here’s another one: At Country Place, Kendall says he saw a neighbor erecting what looked like a birdhouse only 3 feet off the ground. “It’s not a birdhouse,” she told him. “It’s a cat feeder.”
A comedian/football view of life
The comic also draws upon his 41 years of sobriety, which has led to his turns in “recovery comedy” for groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Some of his best bits come from drunks he’s encountered on cruises.
“I compare my life to a football game,” he said. “I played a lousy first half. I’m playing a great second half. I am hoping for a win before we reach ‘sudden death.’ I was a telephone drunk. I would get drunk and call people. At first, they were delighted to hear from me. Before long, they would say, ‘Stop stalking me or I will call the police.’”
Kendall grew up in Houston “on the poor side of River Oaks,” attending Wharton Elementary School before his family moved to Park Place and he graduated from Milby High School.
He became a banker, then a chamber of commerce executive.
He has children from two marriages as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Kendall’s delivery is reminiscent of Bob Hope, cracking wry one-liners with what veers between deadpan and his own chuckles. The comedian, who sometimes bills himself as “the last comic breathing,” wears eyeglasses and business attire with a bow tie when he performs.
“I look better in a suit than I do naked,” he said.
Opening act for Billy Gardell
Kendall was once hired as the opening act for rising star Billy Gardell, who gained fame as Mike, starring opposite Melissa McCarthy, on the 2010-16 sitcom “Mike and Molly” on CBS-TV.
Kendall and Gardell have remained friends.
“I have old wisdom; he has fatherhood,” Kendall said.
Fans can watch Kendall on several YouTube videos in which he riffs on subjects ranging from divorce, root canals and drinking to seasickness, wordplay and Dick Cheney.
He even weighs in on a controversial topic such as same-sex marriage.
“What’s the big deal? We’ve had that for years,” he says. “You get married and you keep having the same sex.”
Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com