Woody Rau passed away on July 2, leaving some big shoes to be filled in our local comedy scene. Rau had a national TV appearance in Caught Ya! on ESPN Outdoors and wrote everything from musicals to scripts, but he was perhaps best known for his work with ComedySportz — and his biting wit.
One of his close friends and fellow improv comedians, Mia Lee Roberts, recalls some of her favorite memories.
"Maybe the time he scratched my cornea while we were playing a game at a Comedy Sports match," says Roberts. "It wasn't one of my favorite times in my life, but it was actually very hilarious. That probably happened 15 years ago and he was still apologizing for it on a regular basis."
Rau was impersonating a rapper for one of their performances and Roberts was standing slightly behind him, putting her in the line of fire when he threw his arms out in a fully committed rap impersonation.
"He has always been a ridiculous man," laughs Roberts. "With more life experience he just got a little more ridiculous."
Roberts met Rau met in 1993 at ComedySportz. The two have been friends ever since. (To put it in perspective he stood up with her at her wedding and she did the same at his.)
Rau was also known for his love of kids. Though he and his wife Eileen Kramer didn't have any of their own, they had plenty of love to go around. Roberts says that Rau practically raised her children. He also worked with the NCAA's Stay In Bounds program, for children in first through eight grade. Just about a month ago Woody posted on Facebook that he wanted to start an arts organization that worked with autistic children.
"He wasn't just a great improviser," says Roberts. "He was a stellar comedy writer as well." Seriously, go to nuvo.net and just search his name. You can't help but smile when reading his byline and Q&As.
I asked Roberts for any other favorite bits that they shared. "His car was always filthy and had a ton of trash in it and he was a smoker," says Roberts. "If we went anywhere it was in his car so he could smoke, you couldn't smoke in my car because I have kids. ... One night we were in Woody's car. We weren't exactly sure what it is we were going to do, and he said 'I know what we will do. We will fight crime with only our wit.' And I said 'and a car full of trash.' And ever since then we would text each other back and forth 'What do you want to do?' and it's always 'let's go fight some crime with our wit and a car full of trash.'
"Woody had about 150 best friends who are hurting just as badly as I am," says Roberts. "He was very well loved and is going to be missed by a lot of people."