Updated September 8, 2023 - 11:06 pm
In his stand-up act, Geechy Guy tossed what he called “joke grenades.”
“You’ll get these later,” the gangly comic often said. Among his grenades: “My doctor tells me I’m a kleptomaniac, so I’ve been taking a lot of stuff for it.” And, “I couldn’t keep my eyes off the woman at the construction site. She was riveting.”
The veteran Vegas headliner, who beat Ray Romano on “Star Search” in the early ’90s and was a quarterfinalist on “America’s Got Talent,” died Thursday at his Las Vegas home. He was 59.
Guy was found unresponsive in his bedroom at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday during a wellness check by the Metropolitan Police Department and pronounced dead on the scene. His housemate and landlord, Jerry Jones, himself a Vegas entertainment pro as founder of Fifth Avenue vocal group, confirmed Guy’s death.
“He looked like he was just fast asleep,” Jones said Thursday afternoon. “There wasn’t anything unusual, he just looked peaceful, with the covers over his shoulders. He had a terrible sleep schedule, and would sleep 14 or 15 hours straight. For him to be in his room for that long wasn’t anything surprising.”
Guy had a recent history of health concerns, Jones said, especially high blood pressure. A nursing team had recently visited the home to check on his condition.
Jones said Guy’s ex-wife, Sharon Cathers, who lives in Leawood, Kansas, had been trying to reach Guy over the past couple of days. She finally called for a welfare check.
Guy was last seen by his housemates just before 11 a.m. Tuesday.
He was born Michael Paul Cathers on May 12, 1964 in Rochester, Mich. He was a popular club comic for years in Las Vegas, recently at such havens as Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand and Laugh Factory at the Tropicana.
The stage vet was known as a guy who could crush it for 15 minutes, or for an hour and 15 minutes.
Garrett said Guy filled in for him at a crucial moment in his career, when Garrett was cast in “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
“We go wayyyy back,” Garrett texted Thursday. “When I got the Raymond gig he covered for me, opening for The Righteous Brothers for a spell, right here at MGM Grand.”
Garrett admired Guy’s “unique style and delivery, a very funny guy” who worked at the club several times. The comic, actor and club operator said, “I’m so sad to hear this.”
Laugh Factory GM Harry Basil booked Guy several times in Las Vegas and at the club in Reno. Guy was a popular draw at both clubs. He also hung back for “Harry-Oke,” Basil’s late-night karaoke parties.
“Geechy always did a great job,” Basil said. “He would always come hang at our green room, and his go-to song was ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel. He would always sing that song.”
Jo Koy once opened for Guy in 1997, at Huntridge Theater. The two were reunited when Guy visited Koy backstage after Koy’s sold-out show at T-Mobile Arena last November.
“I was so impressed, the whole crowd lit up their cellphones for him. It looked like a rock concert,” Guy said days after that show, when he joined Kelly Clinton-Holmes.’ “Sit In” show at Tuscany Suites. “But I wouldn’t want to be that famous. Could you imagine me in the middle of that crowd?”
Guy was nationally famous, a little more than a decade ago. He reached the quarterfinals (No. 48, specifically) on the sixth season of “America’s Got Talent” in 2011. He also appeared on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
He had often claimed to be the fastest joke-telling comic, with 676 told in an hour, at the Improv at Harrah’s in 2011. But Guinness World Records has listed English comedian Tim Vine (who set his record of 499 on October 7, 2004) as the official record-holder.
But there is no disputing Guy’s prolific joke-writing acumen, or ability to take over a room. He opened for years for Ron White at The Mirage, holding total command of the stage. “You know how to tell when your girlfriend is fat?” he asked White’s sold-out crowd. “She can’t fit in your wife’s clothes.”
Guy had pulled out of the pandemic shutdown with a busy schedule on Carnival Cruise Lines, 10 days on, a week off. But he had not felt well enough to “go out” recently, and canceled a week of shows just last week.
Guy co-starred in an inspired club production, “The Dirty Jokes Show,” at Hooters more than a decade ago. Rob Sherwood, one the co-stars in the show, worked with Guy for two years.
“He was such a great joke-writer,” said Sherwood, who today is Carrot Top’s opening act and whose wife, Cyndi, manages Garrett’s club. “I was in awe of his joke-writing skills.”
A reflection of the tight-knit Vegas comedy community, Cyndi and Rob met when Guy invited her to the show. The couple were married in 2019 at Garrett’s club, with Garrett officiating.
In the “Dirty Jokes” format, comics were staged in a set based on the alleyway of a comedy club. They challenged each other with unscripted subjects.
One night, Sherwood turned to Guy and said, “Ten ‘Guy Goes Into a Doctor’s Office’ jokes — go!” Guy reeled off the 10 jokes, including, “Guy walks into a doctor’s office. Doctor says, ‘You have 10 to live!’ Guy says, ‘Ten what?’ Doctor says, “Nine, eight, seven …”
We laugh, years later. It was another of Geechy’s grenades.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.