A very funny guy died Sunday.
Most Minnesotans knew Al Sicherman from his long run as a humorist and food writer for the Star Tribune. I was at the paper for many of those years, but I cannot improve upon the excellent obituary the Star Tribune published yesterday.
But after he retired from the Star Tribune, Al had another career, at MinnPost — both on our pages and in our annual satirical show, MinnRoast.
When we launched MinnPost in 2007, Al agreed to write a column called Verse or Worse, in which he would propose a topic on which readers needed to expound either in verse or prose. Topics ranged from why Jesse Ventura should run for president to how you can tell that your doctor is dead. Al would pick five finalists, and readers would vote for the winner, who got a Verse or Worse T-shirt. With Al’s gorgeous face on it.
Later, he switched to writing occasional humorous essays. In 2011, he wrote one about turning 70, which closed this way:
Turn around and you’re tiny
Turn around and you’re grown
Turn around and you’re an old guy
Who can’t fix his phone.
Al was a fixture on the MinnRoast stage, cracking jokes, singing, and (only under duress) dancing. I remember fondly his role as the hockey player in the song “More Dough,” about how our pro sports teams were always pleading for more money so they could win. Al held a hockey stick and was instructed to take a shot at the appropriate time in the song. But an athlete Al was not, and he never could master how to handle that stick.
Behind the scenes, Al was also one of the main writers of MinnRoast skits and song lyrics. Among many others, he wrote a memorable 90th birthday song about Sid Hartman, poking fun at Sid’s disdain for women’s sports, and one about the crowded governor’s race in 2010 (“We’ve got the Dayton heir, sure he’s a little square”).
The show-making process was just not the same this year, because Al bowed out on account of his declining health. In January, my wife Laurie asked Al how he was doing. He responded in an email, “As a distant malapropic aunt once said, I’m under the doctor.” But he attended the show and loved it. He said that Joe Kimball, who did much of the writing this year, “should get a Pulitzer, if not a Nobel.”
Rest in peace, Uncle Al.