COMEDIAN LARRY MILLER BACK
In April 2012 a report came through that US comedian Larry Miller had slipped at the entrance of an Irish pub and had serious head injuries. Silence followed for month after mysterious month, and fan websites had regular pleas from followers keen to know if he was alright. Some contemplated that he was so badly injured he would never leave hospital.
Australians aren’t very familiar with Larry Miller but they would recognise his face – the mean doorman on Seinfeld, Walter Stratford in 10 Things I Hate About You plus a litany of roles in movies and TV including The Nutty Professor, Pretty Woman and Boston Legal.
This month, January 9 to be exact, Larry resurfaced in America on his regular radio podcast This Week with Larry Miller nine months after falling. He slipped (safely) behind the microphone without fuss and told his story.
Larry recounted his experience so calmly you started to think he was talking about someone else. “I can’t wait to tell the story”, he announced and then rushed into a tale of ordering martinis at a rough, tough pub which was a known haunt of his. When he went out front for a smoke between orders he stepped aside to let a couple in, fell back and hit his head. A friend offered to call an ambulance and Larry agreed, wandering back to the barman to collect his second drink before the vehicle’s arrival. “I think I walloped my head,” he recalls saying.
It’s only when Larry starts talking about not remembering the ambulance drive, head swelling, being placed in an induced coma then moved to a rehab house that you realise how critical his injury was. For a comedian, having a brain injury must be as terrifying as being a runner who loses his legs.
“I’m very lucky, people die from this…I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” In the intimate world of the rehab house Larry’s friends became a couple of soldiers plus a young fifteen year old girl all suffering brain injuries. They became so accustomed to one another that they didn’t even require privacy when they were due for shots or pills. In this intimate environment life was getting up, eating, treatment, returning to a single room for tired sleeps and watching TV.
What’s truest for Larry is that he knew he was leaving again from the start while others he met did not necessarily have this as their reality. You sense the depth of his gratitude in his statement on healing. “One of the greatest blessings about healing, and it doesn’t always heal, is that I’m here, I knew early on it was just going to heal unless something went crazy.”
One moment, one miniscule incident, one trip as tiny as a mistimed word in a comedy monologue can change a person’s life.
Now, the closing lines Larry has used for many of his blogs and podcasts over the years ring true like never before:
“If you walked out of bed today and had a job to go to, and a home to come back to, and someone waiting there who cares about you? Folks, the game’s over, and you’ve won.”
Welcome back Larry Miller, it’s great to see you.