Becoming friends with Todd was easy. It required no effort.
Todd was a good listener and was genuinely interested in what you had to say. Pretty rare these days. He was also a fascinating and adventurous guy, always up for something new where he could gain some life experience and have a good time doing it. Todd brought both excitement and much needed calm to my life.
I had a metric ton of fun being around Todd over the ten years I knew him and worked with him on our various projects. Getting an email with the subject line “Hey, how about this…” always made me happy and nervous… the good kind of nervous.
Early on, when I invited him to show where my friend Brian was playing 80s music, Todd showed up dressed as Mr. T with a freshly shaved Mohawk, dripping with fake gold chains and a giant smile. No one else was in costume (a miscommunication on my part), just Todd and his lovely wife Heather dressed in her 50’s era finest. It didn’t bother them at all. Their costumes just made the night that much more enjoyable for them and everyone there. Most of my other friends would have made a very quick exit.
Todd was charming and incredibly talented. He was also a community builder, bringing people together for his various art and performance projects and lasting friendships were made because of the community he created. He really cared about people and encouraged them, and that’s apparent in the thousands of students he taught and inspired for over 15 years. He loved telling me about a student of his who was doing something innovative or taking a stand. He was extremely proud of the middle-schoolers who spent time in his classroom.
Along with our mutual friend Russ Starke, we collaborated on a comedy podcast and a series of live shows that we did together for the past 8 years. This was a perfect outlet for Todd. He liked to talk and was good at it.
For each show I would have pages of notes ready for discussion and when I asked Todd if he had done any preparation for the show, he’d always laugh and dig out a small post-it note with a maybe a song title and a couple doodles on it, then point to head, gesturing “It’s all up here, don’t worry.”
I never did.
Todd had a great story or a tale for pretty much every topic, failures and triumphs alike, each was a learning experience for Todd that he was willing to share and let people into his life. During these years I never laughed harder or had more fun with a group of people. I also learned quite a bit during our endless chats on the show and during our discussions in person. Some chats were deep, but mostly it was Todd trying really hard to get me like one of his favorite quirky bands. I loved his commitment. He helped open many people’s minds to new experiences.
And with that, Todd loved to debate. But he didn’t start a debate because he was being confrontational or just to be contrarian. Talking it out was Todd’s way of learning. Hearing the other side of what he believed helped form his beliefs. He was always respectful and our chats were always entertaining.
He was also very good at gleefully poking sleeping bears like Russ during a show and extracting some solid gold stories out of him with his slow-build interrogation methods. Todd would giggle the whole way through as Russ or a guest slowly let out the details of some less than flattering situations — mullets, horrible jobs, epic accidents, regretful relationships — all made much more palatable by Todd’s brilliant investigative approach. I will never forget his giant, triumphant “I got you” grin.
Two quick favorite memories…
It was our second major live show at World Café Live and since this was a big deal we were discussing what we should wear, after Russ and I decided, Todd said he had the perfect outfit. And that’s all he said. A few minutes before the show, Todd was in a t-shirt and jeans. Then, right before we went on stage, I turned around and Todd was in a full, head-to-toe Chewbacca costume with a giant smile and his pair of big expressive eyebrows peeking through. Hairier than usual, Todd spent the entire 2 hours under the hot stage lights holding conversation and creating art while sweating up a storm, 100% committed to the bit. It was beautiful.
When we first started out we did not have any professional mobile recording gear, but that did not stop us. When Todd went to Atlantic City to interview comedian Jim Gaffigan he brought with him an extremely old school style tape recorder, the kind you need two fingers to press record and flip the tape over when the side was full. Todd held this under Jim’s face the entire interview. Jim loved it. Todd interviewed about ten other celebrities using it.
When it came to our live shows, there was nothing I loved more than seeing Heather at every single show sitting up front and helping us out. Heather’s laugh was infectious and her love of Todd and complete enjoyment of hearing his many his numerous tales made all of our shows that much more silly, more crazy and completely worth it.
I want to thank all of the UsedWigs Radio listeners and fans from all over the country/world who wrote me, many who only knew Todd’s voice from our show. If you contacted Todd over the years, you probably received a package of art from Todd, completely unsolicited, with a nice note. He was a pretty good sharer. His art can be found all over Philadelphia, brightening up many buildings, inside and out.
Todd was the pesky, prodding, extremely loveable, “let’s-go-have-some-fun” little brother I never knew I wanted, but once he came into my life, he was the little brother I needed and he made my life so much better.
He bravely battled a very dark disease that took him from us but his spirit and spark will continue to live within everyone who knew him.
God bless Heather and Rocco and Matilda and Mr. and Mrs. Marrone and the entire family and God bless Todd.
I love you, buddy.