Thursday, May 7, 2009

Scott Jernigan, 1975 - 2003

FROM THE ARCHIVES, May 7 - This ran as an addendum to a column in Punk Planet 57.

There are a handful of people, scattered here and there, with the power to scramble the humor center of my cerebral cortex. But I’ve only met two who were able to do so through sheer, overwhelming comedic firepower; Jared Warren and Scott Maniac from the bands Karp and The Whip. Jared took on the Dean Martin role of studied bemusement, with Scott hammering home punchline after punchline in Jerry Lewis attack mode. When the boys stayed at my house in February, they bought a three-pack of toy hillbilly teeth from a local supermarket and I found myself relegated to straight man (to his credit, their bandmate Joe Preston held his own with the funny – in my analogy, this would make him an older Bing Crosby to their Martin & Lewis). It was relentless. Trying to crack jokes in the presence of these two obscenely funny men was like attempting to halt a MIG fighter with a limp stick of celery. The next morning I made waffles for everyone, took a shower, and when I emerged three Appalachians were belting out show tunes in my living room.

Scott, Jared, and Joe 3/1/03

Scott’s death on June 10, in a Seattle boating accident, made me realize how little I had known of the guy. We’d talked vaguely about our two bands playing shows together in the fall, but when I searched for his voice mail it was already gone. From his obituary, I learned that his last name was Jernigan, that he was only 28. Without any warning, I’ve crossed into that portion of life where friends start up and dying. If Scott was here, with his spitty redneck teeth in place, he’d have already spun some comedy gold from this situation. But he isn’t. The universe has lost another good mind. I won’t forget him.