Mind Games

Happy thoughts keep funnyman's cancer fears in check.

After all he's been through, you have to wonder how Bronx-born comedian Robert Schimmel has kept his sense of humor, considering he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after his 11-year-old son died of leukemia. On top of all that, the 57-year-old Schimmel had a heart attack. His medicine? Positive thinking. "You could have the best doctors in the world. You could be in the number-one hospital in the world. You could have the best drugs that money can buy," says Schimmel, who's performing in the Flats this weekend. "If your head isn't in the right place, that shit doesn't mean anything, because your mind is stronger than all of those things." While Schimmel's cancer is now in remission, he still brings it up in his act. "I make sure that the audience knows that I do not think that cancer's funny, and I'm not making light of cancer or anyone that's gone through it," says Schimmel, who won an American Comedy Award as the country's funniest comic in 1999. "I'm talking about how I feel that attitude, and having a sense of humor helped me get through it." To further make his point, he's written a book, Cancer on $5 a Day. "The publisher actually wanted the title I Licked the Big C," laughs Schimmel over the sexual reference. "I really couldn't see Oprah holding that book up on television." Showtimes are at 8 and 10:15 tonight, and 7, 9:30, and 11:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Improv, 2000 Sycamore Street on the West Bank of the Flats. Tickets are $21. Call 216-696-4677 or visit www.clevelandimprov.com.
Fri., March 28; Sat., March 29, 2008