YARMYS ARMY PLUS SUE RANEY!
THE MUSIC: SUE RANEY and Mike Melvoin THE MIRTH:YARMYS ARMY Pat Harrington (One Day at a Time) Steve Landesberg (Barney Miller) - Greg Lewis (Frankie & Johnny; Princess Diaries) - Jim MacGeorge (Stan Laurel in Chaplin) - Peter Marshall (Hollywood Squares) - Chuck McCann (Heart is a Lonely Hunter) Jack Riley (Bob Newhart Show) - Ronnie Schell (Gomer Pyle) - Howard Storm (producer/director)
Each month, a group of comic actors who made millions laugh on old-time TV hits such as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.'' and The Carol Burnett Show,'' get together to entertain a much smaller audience - themselves.
They call themselves Yarmy's Army, a name that reflects the group's beginnings a few years ago. Then, four guys - Pat Harrington, Ronnie Schell, Howie Storm and Hank Bradford - met once a week in a small Van Nuys Boulevard restaurant to lift the spirits of friend Dick Yarmy, a veteran TV actor and director (and brother of Don Adams) who was dying of lung cancer.
After Yarmy died in 1993, the group, which by then had grown to 35 and moved to Lola's in the Fairfax District, vowed to keep meeting. Five members also put together a cabaret-type show titled Yarmy's Army'' to raise money for cancer charities.
When Dick died, we held an amazing memorial at Theater West that was hilarious and warm and funny,'' says Storm. After, the valets started pulling around the cars but no one wanted to leave. We just stood outside talking and laughing. And we realized that we needed the group as much as Dick did.''
Schell adds: We get a lot of camaraderie and laughs out of it. It's better than going to a psychiatrist, and cheaper.''
Yarmy's Army'' has two acts. In the first, the five performers do 10 minutes each of stand-up, appearing one at a time. In the second act, they appear on stage together to perform improvisational skits suggested by the audience.
Because comedy often is a cutthroat business best suited for loners, the comics say they revel in the support of their group, which also donates money to members who need financial help.
I didn't know these guys had so much love in them,'' says Berman. It's marvelous.''
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