Brad Garrett’s loss inspires new healing program

Updated June 12, 2018 - 12:34 pm

Among his duties as general manager of Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand, Paul Ames always escorted the club’s namesake as he left the property.

As they reached the top of the escalator leading out of the hotel’s Underground promenade, Ames routinely told Garrett, “Next time you come back, try to be funny.”

Garrett knew it was coming, but he never delivered a retort. He just laughed. The jab was a family tradition.

Paul was Garrett’s older brother, a warm and familiar face at Garrett’s club over the years. He ran the operations, and was also a charismatic maitre d’, the dapper gent who made sure customers were happy and the trains (and comics) ran on time.

Sadly and unknown even to many frequenters of Garrett’s club, Paul had suffered from pancreatic cancer for several weeks before passing away on May 7, less than a week short of his 64th birthday.

“Paul was an old-school kind of guy, the type of person this city was built on. The comics who come to the club feel like it’s an oasis, and that has largely been because of Paul,” Garrett said during an interview last week. “He had a great perspective on life, a genuine people person who loved comics, loved to joke around. We used to say to each other, ‘If one of us gets sick, don’t let me suffer. Take me the (expletive) out.’”

Certainly, Ames was a classic Vegas figure, a polished David Niven-style personality with an infectious smile who shook your hand and hugged you all at once. Ames had the now-rare quality remembering everyone’s name he greeted at club door. It was not uncommon for him to seat a couple in a VIP booth, then return minutes later with two bags of Official Brad Garrett Comedy Club Carmel Corn “on the house!”

Ames spent his final days at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas. A longtime supporter of Nathan Adelson and host of its annual gala concert, Garrett is ensuring his brother’s legacy is properly marked by helping launch the Paws For Paul — The Paul Ames Pet Therapy Program.

Honoring ’ passion and advocacy for animals, Paws For Paul was established by Garrett and Nathan Adelson President and Chief Executive Officer Carole Fisher.

The program allows pet therapy visits in the facility’s inpatient unites and nursing homes; dog-walking, kitty-litter box changes and pet waste cleanup for in-home patients; pet bathing and grooming; and assistance in providing food, supplies and some veterinary care for patients’ pets. The timeline for launching the program is still to be determined (click here for information and how to support).

“Paul got so much comfort in his dogs, even when he was very sick,” Garrett said, referring to ’ mixed-breed rescues, Jessie and Stella. “All the way through this, he was still worried about his dogs. It was a very, very emotional thing.”

On one of the brothers’ final walks out of the club, again told Garrett, “Next time you come back, try to be funny.” And Garrett turned to his brother and said, “I couldn’t have done any of this without you.”

“I’d never said that before,” Garrett said, “but it was the truth.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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