I spent almost 6 years performing with ComedySportz in Richmond, Virginia in the 90’s. This was at the beginning stages of my improv journey, but the experience that impacted me most deeply. CSz, as we call it, was a huge part of my life and many of my fellow improvisers served as a defacto family. I loved these people and couldn’t spend enough time with them, even when they got on my nerves. Some of those friendships are still going strong today. Others fell by the wayside, mostly due to lack of proximity.

One of those family members passed away December 30, 2012. Thomas George, he was barely 35 I think. If my memory serves me correctly, it may not, I believe Thomas came along in the 2nd wave after casting the original troupe. I distinctly remember Thomas and his buddy PJ. They were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Laurel and Hardy, Tango and Cash, Turner and Hooch. OK, maybe not Turner and Hooch.

Thomas was larger than life. Not just physically but in spirit and personality. FUN is one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of Thomas. Fun to hang out with, Fun to play with. I don’t think he was afraid to try anything on stage. From what I remember of playing with him, he was pretty fearless, especially the more he got to play. As improvisors, we all search for that moment when we are “in the moment”. I think fearless improvisors are rare. There lies the challenge – getting out of your head and flying without a net. Thomas flew well! Fearless is not the same as reckless either. I don’t remember Thomas being a selfish player but rather a player who made strong choices that set everyone else up. A gift giver.

Thomas’ gift will be missed. Certainly not forgotten. Thomas and I occasionally kept in touch on Facebook but I had not spoken with him for 10 years. I kind of regret that. I was happy to see that he was back with CSz after a hiatus. Even though we hadn’t spoken for years, the memories I have of Thomas are good ones and my heart is with the improv community in Richmond, where we both started on our journey to laughter. I heard they created a new game in his honor. The “Thomas George”. Each person jumped up on stage and said something that was not really true about him, tho it probably coulda happened – then they would all raise their pretend beer and shout Thomas George. Example : Thomas inspired Tarantino to create Pulp Fiction! Thomas George!

Today, Thomas is being laid to rest. My prayers go out to his family and loved ones. Thanks for the laughs old friend.

I raise my glass to you. Thomas George!