“Dick Hardwick, you teach people about love and laughter. You’re a psychologist for a complicated society who can help us all laugh together in innocence, not rudeness.”
(Dr. Evan Dobelle)
LET’S HEAR IT FOR DICK HARDWICK!
One of the most sought-after corporate and special event comedians in the country,
Dick Hardwick is also one of the busiest:
- Two around-the-world tours for the United States Air Force Reserve with Lee Greenwood and the New England Patriot Cheerleaders for the troops
- Numerous appearances on the Grand Ole’ Opry
- Multiple concert appearances with the legendary Johnny Mathis
- Two dozen state fair shows with Reba McEntire
- Multiple-city tour with Kenny Chesney
- Appearances at the Las Vegas Hilton, Caesars Palace, and Silver Legacy
- Host of an outdoor concert at Atlanta Motor Speedway for a crowd of 250,000
- Guest on syndicated radio show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy
- Comedy Champion on Ed McMahon’s “Star Search”
- Play washboard on John Prine’s Grammy winning album, “The Missing Years”
- Role in Jackie Gleason’s final film, “Nothing in Common” (starring Tom Hanks)
- 10,000 shows as the comic in the Golden Horseshoe Revue, Disneyland
And that’s not all.
Receiving a Doctor of Performing Arts h.c. from Westfield State University solidified a career of comedy and music celebrating the hard work Dick Hardwick has put into the countless hours of perfecting his craft as an entertainer. Dick has paid his dues at the Improv in Hollywood and as a headliner at the Ice House in Pasadena but focuses on concert tours and shows across the country where he incorporates a variety of musical instruments into his act.
Dick has served as the spokesman for the Reno/Tahoe Visitor and Convention Bureau and has had countless corporate clients from Coca-Cola to IBM. An avid golfer and fly fisherman, Dick has appeared at many celebrity golf tournaments, including the John Elway Classic in Denver, Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout and Jeff Foxworthy’s Duke Children’s Hospital Classic.
He still gets to play the drums and has for more than three decades with the actor and musician friend Conrad Janis and The Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band. “I’ve had the good fortune to record several CDs and tour with my pal, guitar legend John Jorgenson. We just recorded a tune which I closed my comedy set with on The Grand Ole’ Opry called ‘Grits.’”
One thing for sure, wherever and whenever Dick performs, he gets big laughs without ever using any offensive language, four-letter words, or off-color jokes. “I have never felt that it’s necessary to ‘work blue’ to be funny,” he says. “And my career has absolutely proved that to be true.”
There’s More to the Story
He wasn’t the local jokester. He wasn’t even the class clown. Instead, Dick Hardwick was a hip kid and A student-of-the-arts who was playing the drums with college bands by the time he was 11-years old. (It didn’t hurt that Dick’s father had the only dance band in town.)
“I was about eight when I’d sit at the edge of the bandstand and watch and listen,” he remembers. “I was fascinated with the sparkle on the drums and that heavy backbeat. That’s what really got me interested in the drums at such an early age.”
The oldest of five children, Dick grew up close to the campus of DePauw University in tiny Greencastle, Indiana. When not in class he worked at a grocery store and delivered the local newspaper. But through junior high and high school he was also always with a band playing the drums. When he turned 18, Dick and three of his hometown buddies went to New Orleans to, as Dick says, “Check out Mardi Gras.” This turned out to be a life-changing trip, as Dick was introduced to a kind of music he and his pals had never heard–Dixieland jazz. “We heard Pete Fountain and some other really great bands playing traditional jazz,” Hardwick recalls. “We were smitten.”
Returning to Greencastle, the boys landed a gig at the local American Legion club. It was there that Dick’s career as a comedian got its start. “I would just horse around between tunes,” he says, “and people found what I was doing funny. Plus, I loved it. I’ve been working as a comedian, as well as a musician, ever sense.”
Following the American Legion gig, the band (known as Hardwick & Hopkins) returned to New Orleans. They landed a gig at Molly’s Irish Pub on Toulouse Street in the French Quarter which led to them being hired as the house band on the Delta Queen steamboat. “Playing on the Delta Queen up and down the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers was a wonderful experience,” Dick remembers. “We really grew up, learning the basics of show business and how to entertain all kinds of audiences. Cast as the “Interlocutor,” I had an opportunity to really develop my comedy chops.”
Dick would later find himself playing on another boat, the Robert E. Lee, below the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This was with the Tin Rainbow Ragtimers, led by banjo legend Doug Mattocks. Their agent then sent them west, where they worked primarily in and around Lake Tahoe and Reno. Dick also caught on with the band backing Jerry Van Dyke, an experience Dick would later describe as a “master class on the craft of comedy.” Then Disneyland hired him, and his future as a comedian really started to take shape.
“Disneyland was like a show business ‘boot camp,’” Dick says. “I learned how to work with an audience, to bond with them, show after show after show.” Dick was the leader of the bluegrass band, The Thunder Mountain Boys and the 20’s style Main Street Maniacs before accepting the comedic starring role of Disney’s Golden Horseshoe Review—a gig that landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records for “longest run for a live theatrical presentation.” During its 31 year run, the Golden Horseshoe Revue was seen by more than 12 million people. (Dick even married one of the beautiful Cancan dancers, and he and Claudia still act like newlyweds to this day.)
“The Golden Horseshoe Revue always attracted a lot of corporate people,” Dick says. “These executives would catch the show, see firsthand that I didn’t use any ‘blue’ humor, and book me to entertain at their company functions.” That popularity in Corporate America is still going strong, with the zany comedian in constant demand for theater concerts, conventions to the Grand Ole’ Opry.
It was his dad who first taught a young Dick Hardwick to play those “sparkling drums.” Since then the naturally musical Hoosier has picked up the guitar, string bass, harmonica, jaw harp, bones, washboard, and calliope. But if there is one instrument this resident of Fullerton, California has truly mastered, it is, without a doubt, the laughing machine.
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