A tribute to Regis

This column first ran in the Joplin Globe in 2006.

Sometimes you hear about something you instantly know is going to be gold.

Like when Willie Nelson and the late great Ray Charles teamed up. Or when Bing Crosby and Bob Hope agreed to make a few movies together. Or when George Bush and Dick Cheney decided to start a war.

Wait. That last one is probably not a great example. But you get my point.

So, when I read in this paper on Friday that Regis Philbin and Donald Trump are going to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” together on Regis’ upcoming Christmas album, I thought “Fort Knox City.”

It would be gold, is what I’m saying.

I mean, somewhere Gene Autry has to be smiling. Come on, Trump and Philbin? How great is that? It’s like Lennon and McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel and Josie and the Pussycats rolled into one.

How can it miss?

OK, there might be that the little matter of Trump probably not being able-to use a technical musical term-carry a tune in front of a grand jury.

But really is talent that important?

I don’t think so.

You’ve still got Regis and I’m being completely honest when I say this: I love Regis.

I know among some of the tragically hip, it’s not cool to like Regis. But I’m pretty much the opposite of tragically hip.

As a singer, I think Regis is just OK. But at being Regis, I think Regis is the best.

Look, the biggest mistake folks can make in a profession is to take themselves too seriously. To assume that because you’re good at one thing, you’ll naturally be good at something else.

Like when Bob Costas thought he was more than just a sportscaster. Or when Sylvester Stallone thought he was an actor. Or when Geraldo thought he was human.

The most successful people, I think, don’t take themselves too seriously. They know what they do well and they tend to stick with what works.

That’s why I think Regis is so cool. Regis knows who he is. Regis doesn’t take himself too seriously. Regis knows what’s he good at. He’s good at making people feel comfortable. He’s good at making people laugh. Either with him or at him. He doesn’t care. As long as you laugh.

David Letterman has made fun of Regis for years. When Dave first started making fun of Regis, I thought it was funny. But then, after a while, I started to feel sorry for Regis.

But then it dawned on me that Regis didn’t really care Dave was making fun of him. He just cared if people were laughing.

And that’s when it also dawned on me that Dave loved Regis. Dave knew Regis understood how to entertain. He knew that Regis understood how to be a good broadcaster.

Regis has more than paid his dues as a broadcaster. He used to be the announcer on the Joey Bishop. Does anyone remember the Joey Bishop show? Does anyone remember Joey Bishop?

I don’t mean that in a bad way. I loved Joey Bishop. I’m just saying the Joey Bishop Show was on TV a long time ago.

After Joey’s show got canceled, Regis was suddenly just another out-of-work announcer who could sing a bit.

So, he turned to local TV. He did morning shows all over the country. He worked in Los Angles. He worked in St. Louis. He worked wherever someone would have him. Later, he had some sort of fitness show on a cable channel back in the 1980s.

Then, he landed in New York. He got a little local morning talk show. Then, a lot of people in New York noticed and the little, local morning talk show got picked up nationally. Then, after all of those years, after all of these towns, after all of those shows, Regis became an overnight sensation.

Everyone now knew who Regis was. Mainly because Regis was everywhere. In addition to his morning show and his appearances with David, he hosted a silly game. Later, because people liked Regis hosting that silly game show, ABC-TV executives had to back a bunch of Brinks Trucks up to Regis’ house and unload bags and bags of money to keep him happy.

So, Regis, if you want to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with Trump, go ahead. I’ll laugh with you, not at you.

I will, however, laugh at Trump. But come on, who doesn’t?