If you’re not a listener of The Howard Stern Show, then I’m really sorry about this. I don’t know how to explain Eric S. Lynch to you.
Suffice it to say that 12 years ago Friday, a young man called Howard Stern to stick up for an American Idol contestant of whom the KOAM had said needed to drop some weight in order to be a star.
Howard was more interested in the caller than his subject. “What’s wrong with you? There’s something wrong, right?”
“I’m a disabled person,” he replied.
I think you can hear the love in Howard’s voice immediately.
I think Howard knew right off the bat that in the jungle of Wack-Packery (forgive me, Eric did not like that term being applied to him), he had found a superstar. And Eric never failed to disappoint.
Any time I passed a radio and Eric was on the air, I would have to stop whatever it is that I’m doing and listen. I’d just have to. He was that compelling. Even when he was boring. Even when he was angry. Even when he was weirdly demanding. I’d just stop. And listen. Because I just had to know what was up with this ridiculously serious, horribly stricken little man.
And I sure ain’t the only one. Probably his most well-known fan was Jimmy Kimmel.
One of the greatest running gags regarding Eric was the Stern Show’s constant harassment of him to try to get him to “fly with balloons.” Howard today said he always saw the effort as a gag, and that he would never actually go through with it.
Not Jimmy. “There was no price I was unwilling to pay to make that happen,” he said on the show this morning. And, as they recounted on today’s show, the great joy in the gag was Eric’s refusal to relent. There was no amount of money, there was no promise of any kind of favors that could cause him to succumb to that indignity.
Of Eric, columnist Rob Eshman writes today, “Nothing was funny to him. In the Marx Brother-ian world that Howard created, he was a 3-foot tall, wheelchair-bound, severely disabled Margaret Dumont.”
Well. I never.
The other miracle of Eric S. Lynch was how much he managed to parlay from being a regular Stern caller. He got a wide fan base out of the deal. He got TV parts out of the deal. Heck, he got laid out of the deal.
But the biggest miracle of all regarding Eric S. Lynch is that we had him around as long as we did. He told Howard early on his doctors did not expect him to live to 20. He was 39 when, on Saturday, his small body finally gave out.
When I saw the initial reports I didn’t believe it. Another popular thing to do was to start rumors on the Internet that Eric was dead. This time, though, the reports were from people inside Eric’s direct circle. Soon the story was picked up by TMZ, The Atlantic, and Variety.
Dig it. I said Variety.
I just wish Eric could read everything, all the tweets, all the serious news coverage, all the wishes. He spent a lot of his time feeling embattled by the Show. I wonder if he knew the swing of his gravitas, how far he reached and how powerful. I always called him my “favorite comedian.”
Quite a career you had there, pal. Bye for now.
- PART 1 Howard Stern Show 09/22/2014 (YouTube)
- Eric the Actor (Lefsetz Letter)
- Bye For Now (Metafilter)