Retired educator David Ricks is not going to make it big as a comedian.
That’s my prediction. But what do I know?
He’s the one with a trophy from NBC’s “Today Show,” where he beat two others to take the 2016 crown for “Funniest Dad.”
Jim Gaffigan decided Ricks was the winner using methodology as lazy as the character Gaffigan plays in those Chrysler Pacifica commercials.
“Listen, it’s not my life’s career,” said Ricks. “Right now it’s a hobby, a fun one. When people have hobbies, they ought to be something they like. I think with time I will improve. More and more people think what I say is funny.”
Then in a persistent tone of voice that was actually very funny, Davis added: “I think I’m funny. I mean really, basically, if you don’t think you’re funny, who else is going to?”
Probably not your wife when you practice a new joke at 3 a.m. See the video.
Ricks, who has adopted the stage name “Outrageous Davis,” is funnier offstage than on, in my experience. Before a performance for novices at Acme Comedy Co., he had me chuckling. On stage he had one pretty good joke about being rejected as a police recruit. Ricks was funny again during my Q&A with him at Sheer Treasures, a health and wellness store in Blaine’s Northtown Mall that he owns with his wife, Gail.
“We specialize in essential oils and natural health goods,” he said.
I could’ve spent hours in the store. I was thrilled to find a refillable roller bottle into which I can squeeze lemon juice (suggested as a natural deodorant on the “Dr. Oz” show). Check out my video to see all the great items in this shop.
I brought in Mrs. Ricks for some of the interview. They made news a few years ago when they went on the “Today Show” to talk about their sizzling post-50s sex life. It apparently has something to do with the underwear.
Ricks said he does not have any special in at the “Today Show.” It’s just been luck that he’s been featured twice.
He had lots advice on how to how to improve schools, policing in the black community and not getting racially profiled in your nice automobile. His trick to avoid racial profiling, however, wasn’t much help to him about 15 years ago when he was parked in the KARE 11 parking lot waiting for his daughter Dhomonique Ricks, (who worked on KARE’s “Whatever” show before becoming a TV personality in Cleveland). He had an interesting — annoying to me — interaction with a police officer.
Q: What comedian would you like to emulate?
A: My favorite comedian is Dave Chappelle. The difference is he has bad words, I don’t.
Q: When you were an educator did you believe in spanking?
A: Oh, no. I never touched anybody’s kids.
Q: Best advice you ever received?
A: Treat people the way you would like to be treated.
Q: Best advice you ever gave a 10th-grader, when you were a principal?
A: Live an honest life.
Q: How do you impress that on a 10th-grader?
A: That’s a tough one. They’re kids. As long as you, the adult, understand how kids operate, then you can speak to them on a level they can understand. That’s the key. Do the right thing.
Q: I was talking to my sixth-grade homeroom teacher the other day and she said she is glad she retired because kids don’t want to learn the way they did when I was in school. Do you think that’s what’s going on with today’s kids?
A: Kids do want to learn, but they have to be challenged. You have to have some kind of exciting curriculum.
Q: How can public schools be improved? We are falling behind other places in the world.
A: We are falling behind if you are talking about people of color. There’s a simple answer. More people of color need to be in the building. People who are home, you don’t have a job, you’re home anyway. Instead of sitting home doing Facebook you should come into the building — not because you have gotten a call saying your child is misbehaving. The school [officials] appreciate that. They can use any kind of volunteer there is. You’re the best volunteer. You’re the parent. Be there for the day. Walk the halls, be in the lunchroom, be there after school. Your visibility makes a big difference, not only to your child but other people see you and go: There’s somebody’s mom and dad. I might as well act right. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to see what is really going on. Are your children being taught or baby sat?
You don’t have to be wealthy to have respectful kids. You don’t have to be wealthy to take your kid to the library.
Q: What do you like about your wife?
A: She is a wonderful loving person, first of all. She understands and she’s got my back. Here I am 67 years old and doing comedy. She’s running with me. Sometimes I practice my stuff at 3 in the morning, in the bed, at 3 in the morning, and she’s trying to sleep. But she never says, “Hey, go to sleep. I’m tired of hearing that.” She knows it’s important. It’s wonderful to have somebody like that.
Q: How many dates did you have before you realized this woman was somebody who would have your back, as you said?
A: We had one date. We met and I didn’t know her from Adam, at a restaurant. I saw down at a table and before I left, she told me she was going to marry me.
Q: Wow, what did you say to her to make her say that?
A: Not much. Maybe she liked that white shirt and tie I was wearing. I don’t know.
Q: Your other claim to fame is being on “Today” talking about sex over 50. Do your friends hit you up for advice for romantic dates with their wives?
A: Not really. I was on talking about sex after 50. That’s what you’ve got to do. If you stop doing that, then you might as well forget it. I still buy colorful underwear. I buy it and I wear it.
Q: So you think monogamy is sexy?
A: Monogamy? Wait a minute. Is that one person? Well, yes, of course.
Q: Why didn’t you know that word?
A: I only graduated from the eighth grade. What do I know? Monogamy, I think of it as sexy. [See video: He cracks himself up, here.]
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: I went to the University of Wisconsin.
Q: That’s probably why you didn’t know what monogamy was.
A: Probably so. There were only 13 brothers there in 1966.
Q: What do you do that annoys your wife?
A: I don’t really think I do it, but in the morning when she wakes up she’s always getting out that bottle of spray, disinfectant, and she sprays the floor around the toilet. She says I get little drops on the floor. I don’t think I do.
Q: Are you a toilet lid up or down guy?
A: I keep the lid down. I mean, when I get done. [Again, he breaks himself up over his comment.]
Q: So she has to use some of the products in this store to keep her bathroom fresh?
A: Not just smelling fresh but clean. She is an over cleaner. She loves to clean. That’s her middle name. She’s the only person I know who pulls out the refrigerator once and month and cleans underneath it.
Q: You’ve fathered and raised two extremely successful adults. I was disappointed again by Wendy Williams on TV talking about how marriage is obsolete. I think marriage is the best framework for bringing a baby into this world because children need the stability of marriage.
A: Marriage is a great institution. I call it investing. I invest in my wife, and investment means you’re going to have something for the future. You have that and work as a team, you will have something. Like children. If you take them on a once-a-year vacation, it doesn’t have to be France. Go somewhere besides Minneapolis. Show them South Dakota, North Dakota. That’s why some people don’t know how to behave on a commercial airliner.
Q: You don’t wear sneakers?
A: I don’t own a pair of athletic shoes. They cost too much money and if I did wear them, some of those people might actually think I’m black and I couldn’t let that happen.
Q: You know the secret to not being racially profiled in your expensive automobile?
A: Something that I had to do probably 35 years ago. That is, I have personalized license plates on my car. That does two things. No. 1: The police can see who you are right away. No. 2: If a brother robs a SA gas station and gets away in a nice car, if the plates don’t say what mine say, it wasn’t me.
Q: Advice for police on how to improve their image in the black community?
A: If I was chief of police, I would have meetings with my staff to say we have to not overexercise our authority. Some officers exceed their limitations on authority. It’s not necessary. The majority of, I’m just going to say the black people, are not dangerous and they are not out to kill you. If you bite a dog it’s going to bite you. Tolerance and common sense go a long way.
Q: Do some people get into police work not knowing it’s dangerous?
A: I could not imagine going up to someone’s home or car in the dark and you don’t know what’s there. You don’t know who’s there. It’s a very dangerous job, and for the pay they get they should be applauded. Personally, I couldn’t do it.
Q: Police should be paid better and they all need to at least be college grads.
A: I agree with that. I have questions about some states where you only need a high school diploma to become a police officer. If you have a college degree, you are a more rounded person than a person who does not.
Q: Did you see those Lynx T-shirts that upset the off-duty cops? Was something written there in code?
A: If there was a code, I didn’t see it. I was somewhat surprised. I didn’t see anything at all offensive with those shirts.
Q: Sounds to me like you once got profiled in the KARE 11 parking lot?
A: I was sitting in my car, reading a book, waiting for Dhomonique to finish her job. She was actually an employee at the station, she was in high school and didn’t drive. It was about 4 p.m. Off Hwy. 55, I could see a police cruiser coming down the street. For some reason, I just knew that car was coming for me. True enough. One person in the car and he got behind my car, got out of his car and came up to my window. He said, May I see your driver’s license and insurance? I said, “Of course.” He said, I’ll be right back. He wasn’t gone long. He said, Mr. Ricks, can I ask what you’re doing out here? I said, “Yes, my daughter works for the station. I’m her ride. She’s 15. I’m waiting to take her home. He said, That makes sense. And I said, “Can I ask you a question?” He said yes. I said, “What are YOU doing here?’’ He said, The reason I’m here is we got a call that said you were out here. I said, “Oh. Did the caller say I was peeking in people’s cars, urinating against the building? What was I doing?” He said, You weren’t doing any of that; you were just out here. When we get a call we follow up on it.
Q: Did you send a letter to the GM to find out who was in the building on that day who might’ve called police?
A: I did not. This is not the first time something like this has happened. I’ve never been arrested. I’ve been stopped twice with my car parked and two other times for something minor. It’s not even worth it. You get somewhat, I guess, accustomed to that. And being the mild-mannered person I am, this is the way it goes. I’m not going to increase my blood pressure because some police officer thought I was doing some negative activity. I was in my car reading a book. Maybe if I had been listening to music I would have been accepted better. [Laughs]
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Buzz” or “The Jason Show.”