Remembering the infamous cruise ship comedian and his legacy of exceptional entertainment.
I was privileged to be aboard the Disney Fantasy docked in the Manhattan harbor in New York City last April when they brought aboard Jerry Seinfeld for part of the christening ceremony. I was in the front row watching today's world king of comedy and I can see his made-up eyebrows which had gotten ruffled, and he says, "I can't believe it, I'm on a cruise ship, right here in New York City – I'm on a cruise ship. I've seen the end of my career and it's …not …that bad. In fact, it looks pretty good."
Yes, timing is everything in comedy, which only shows that comedy is comedy, whether it is on a cruise ship or anywhere. Seinfeld made a joke about cruise ship comics, but I am here to tell you there have been very few truly great comedians who have made working on cruise ships a full-time occupation, but Don Sherman was one of those greats.
Another very popular former Holland America (now Crystal) cruise director - Rick Spath - just emailed me to comment about Don's passing. He wrote the following tribute:
I have only just heard of the passing of my dear friend, comedian Don Sherman. I had known Don for 28 years and worked with him on various ships for approximately 16 years. His style of observation humor was always appreciated by a very broad and diverse mix of guests. What I always appreciated most about Don was the fact that he always strived to make his show better each time. The 'bit' that he would do with the Cruise Director at the end of each show started out many years ago with about 30 seconds of improv but eventually evolved into a 20 minute concluding portion of the show (always entertaining to the guests).
My most vivid memory was a conversation Don and I had in the Hudson Lounge on one of the HAL ships in 1990 after one of his shows. I was sharing with Don my current 'relationship' status and had made a few personal comments, at which point Don chimed in and said, "marry her Rick! I've never heard you speak like that". Needless to say, 20 years later, married to the same person, four beautiful children, I've never been so happy. He knew me quite well. I will miss him dearly.
It was great to read your appreciation of Don Sherman's high seas comedy. Don was a close personal friend of mine and together with actor Harry Northup we all created a blog together. Don, Harry and I made and posted many videos of our lunchtime conversations. Many were Don doing his stream of conscious style of comedy. He loved to riff on a new idea each day. When I read your essay I just had to post on our blog timestimes3.blogspot.com. Don would have appreciated all that you had to say about him.
If you were a cruise ship passenger who enjoyed Don's act you can watch him in conversation on the blog. Don had a great time and entertaining his fellow passengers was a highlight of his life.