Guru: My Days with Del Close

Front Cover
Ivan R. Dee, Apr 25, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
2 Reviews
A legend of improvisational theater, Del Close is best known for discovering and cultivating the talents of John Belushi, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Mike Meyers, and countless other comedy giants. He was resident director of Chicago's famed Second City and "house metaphysician" for "Saturday Night Live," a talent in his own right, and one of the brightest and wackiest theater gurus ever. Jeff Griggs was a student of Close's at the ImprovOlympic in Chicago when he was asked to help the aging mentor (often in ill health) by driving him around the city on his weekly errands. The two developed a volatile friendship that shocked, angered, and amused both of them—and produced this hilarious and ultimately endearing chronicle of Close's last years. With all the elements of a picaresque novel, Guru captures Close at his zaniest but also shows him in theatrical situations that confirm his genius in conceptualizing and directing improvisational theater. Between comic episodes, Jeff Griggs gives the reader the essentials of Close's biography: his childhood in Kansas, early years as an actor, countercultural exploits in the 1960s (he toured with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and designed light shows for the Grateful Dead), years with the Compass Players and then with Second City, and continuing experimentation with every drug imaginable, which pretty much cost him his health and ultimately his life. He was comedian, director, teacher, writer, actor, poet, fire-eater, junkie, and philosopher. "Being a really good actor does not necessarily guarantee that you will be a very good improviser," Close liked to say. "Being an actual, complete, hopeless, wretched geek in real life doesn't disqualify you from being a solid improviser, either." He approached improv the same way he conducted his life—in bizarre, dark, and dangerous fashion. Guru captures it.
 

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GURU: My Days with Del Close

User Review  - Kirkus

A wild and fascinating ride with actor Griggs as he chauffeurs improvisational guru Del Close around Chicago during the last two years of Close's life.In exchange for free lessons at the ImprovOlympic ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gregtmills - LibraryThing

This is the story of real life pop culture Zelig Del Close (Mike Myers, L. Ron Hubbard, the Grateful Dead and Lenny Bruce all make appearances) and his relationship with his the assistant, the author ... Read full review

Contents

Chapter 30 The Sanctity of Marriage
145
Chapter 31 IBeams and Columns
150
Chapter 32 Hurt Feelings
155
Chapter 33 Wastelands
159
Chapter 34 Old Companions with Pictures
163
Chapter 35 Note Taken
167
Chapter 36 Second CityAgain
169
Chapter 37 Sweet and Sour Pork
174

Chapter 09 The Compass
43
Chapter 10 Pogo the Clown
47
Chapter 11 A Gift from Scruthers
52
Chapter 12 A Trim
57
Chapter 13 Ghosts
59
Chapter 14 The Golden Dome
63
Chapter 15 Back to New York
73
Chapter 16 Commit Commit
77
Chapter 17 Sunlamps and Old Men
82
Chapter 18 Card Tricks
89
Chapter 19 Hospitals and Funerals
95
Chapter 20 Damaged Goods
98
Chapter 21 Confidants
103
Chapter 22 Second CityThe Initial Voyage
111
Chapter 23 Birthdays and Suicide
114
Chapter 24 Comedys Unabomber
122
Chapter 25 Spoo
127
Chapter 26 Belts
130
Chapter 27 Chats with Cats
134
Chapter 28 The Point of Conflict
138
Chapter 29 The Committee
140
Chapter 38 Regrets
179
Chapter 39 Tank Tops and Badgers
182
Chapter 40 Cleaning Up
195
Chapter 41 Sex Wars
204
Chapter 42 Santa Claus
209
Chapter 43 The Del Game
212
Chapter 44 Wrigley Field
214
Chapter 45 Charna
219
Chapter 46 The Information Superhighway
222
Chapter 47 Peppers
225
Chapter 48 Impounded
231
Chapter 49 Illegal Uturns
236
Chapter 50 Blizzards of All Kinds
241
Chapter 51 The New Car
246
Chapter 52 The Birthday Party
250
Chapter 53 Pitiful
257
Epilogue
264
Acknowledgments
267
Index
271
A Note on the Author
278
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Jeff Griggs was born in Quincy, Illinois, and attended Illinois colleges before becoming a radio host and weekend TV weather forecaster. He quit the media to study improvisational theater at ImprovOlympic. He is now an actor, director, and improviser in Chicago.

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