Rodney Pentland: 1968 – 2009

Rodney Pentland: 1968 – 2009

I’ve discovered there’s a new electronic Web 2.0-esque thing that’s happening lately that appears to be the same as leaving flowers at the site of a fatality. Once you have a friend that passes away, people have been going to their Facebook page and writing messages of sympathy to the recently deceased. It is cathartic in a way, and I think is a great testament to the person like an electronic guestbook that you’d sign at a visitation.

Today I found myself writing on my friend Rodney Pentland’s wall.

It was weird this week that on Monday I had Jo-Anna Downey come in and record the podcast where we talked about our respective early days and Jo-Anna took over Spirits and turned it into the room it is today. We also remembered who were in out little group of very supportive comics at that time; the likes of Pete Zedlacher, the late JT Huntley, Paul Haywood, Dave Martin, Kristeen Von Hagen and others, but there was also Rodney.

We were all kind of stumbling to find our way and each one of us has gone on to find some modicum of success with our respective careers. In those early days when there weren’t many rooms, we’d all go out support each other if we got spots at Yuk’s or the now defunct Laugh Resort, and after Spirits or someone’s big night, we’d all head out to some watering hole and have at it and Rodney would be there to support as well.

I’d gotten away from comedy for a spell to pursue other interests that eventually didn’t satisfy as much as the comedy did, and as such, I had broken away from this tight supportive community that I had been proud to be a part of. In the process of trying to get back, I gradually ran into everyone in the group and having been away for so long, heard about the unfortunate passing of JT, and the fact that Rodney was sick.

Rodney’s always been a fighter and all of us imagined that he’d stick out his illness as long as he could and all well imagined that it would be a long time. I heard the news just before I was about to hit the stage at Nietzsche’s in Buffalo. The recent memories of our last shows together came flooding back. I had come down to Club 54 not to perform, but watch him headline and see how he was doing. As always he persevered, fighting through whatever pain he may have had and delivered a show that a healthy man would be proud of. I did a medicinal marijuana show with him in Kingston and got to see him do great in front of a mess of pot-heads from the 1000 Islands. Our last show was in front of four people in a Leaside Fox and Fiddle. What I loved about him that night is that he shared the same “Four-People?-Who-Gives-A-Shit-Give-Them-A-Show” attitude and gave his all regardless.

I’m privileged to have known him, have learned much from him, and am glad that my last memory of him is of him performing and not in a ward eroding away from his illness. I only wish our last show together had more than four people at it.

  • So sad – everyone was gutted at the Eton House last night. The show was dedicated to him.

    March 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm
  • claire brosseau

    rodney was always supportive, helpful, understanding… i always looked forward to working with him, especially when we had to drive for a while. he was so humble, & always made me laugh. his commitment was unyielding. he was the kind of man that made me really proud to do what we do. he never knew how much i looked up to him.
    you should know todd that it’s people like you, jo-anna, zedlacher, the rest of the above mentioned & of course pentland that inspire me not only as a comic, but as a friend. as a person.
    i knew him only for a short time, but i’m so glad for that time. i just would have liked more time.

    March 11, 2009 at 3:42 pm
  • Brent Piaskoski

    Even though I have long been removed from the Canadian comedy scene, it still saddens me when I hear about a death the community. My thoughts are with those who miss Rodney. I wish I had a chance to have known him so I could miss him too.

    March 11, 2009 at 4:17 pm
  • Steve Levine

    Although I hadn’t seen Rodney in a while (not since the Laugh Resort days) I was just thinking about him the other day. He was always a great guy. We’ll miss ya Rodney

    March 16, 2009 at 9:32 pm
  • Gladys Pentland

    Thank you all . Rodney was my son & I will miss him very much, I worried about him alone & sick in toronto but that ‘s where his life was , with all his comedian friends
    Love to all & may he stay in all your hearts forever.

    March 17, 2009 at 7:46 pm
  • Susan Brooker

    Its nice to read such nice and accurate things about Rodney. I was Rodney’s sister-in-law. We met at 16 when my brother and his sister were dating and they eventually married. We were in the wedding party togeather and stole the table bottles of wine because we both forgot money, that made for a fun evening. I had to sit through endless hours on comedic practise. Rodney never turned off his humour. Although such the comedian, he also had sympathetic soft caring side. Many a time I cried on his shoulder.

    I knew Rodney on so many levels and am shocked and saddened by his death. I some how thought he would alway be here. I have so many Rodney stories and am so glad for that.

    As Gladys says, thank you all

    March 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm
  • Carilynn Nicholson

    I haven’t seen Rodney in a few years but I have always thought of him as a friend. One of the last times I saw him was after a Toronto show taping and we had the biggest laugh over something – I can’t remember what we were laughing about but it had us hunched over and clutching our stomachs. I am so glad to have known him and to have had some good times with him.
    I will never forget him.
    God bless Rodney, say hi to J.T. for me.

    March 25, 2009 at 12:18 am
  • Ashley Marie Phelps (Pentland)

    Rodney will be missed by our family so much. At least he won’t suffer anymore, he’s at peace now.

    March 28, 2009 at 3:15 pm