A tribute show to the late actor and comedian Ricky Harris is scheduled to take place at the Long Beach Laugh Factory Sunday night, friends have announced.
He died at age 52 on December 26, 2016 from unspecified heart problems, said his childhood friend Hank Norman, who will host the event.
Harris made his acting debut in the 1993 drama “Poetic Justice,” starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. He was also known for doing raunchy skits on the albums of rapper Snoop Dogg, another childhood friend, and for being one of the first stand-up comedians to star on the HBO television series, Def Comedy Jam.
Norman said it was evident since they were kids that Harris would be a comedian, despite his dream to become a professional football player.
“Rick was always the second-string quarterback, he was pretty good, he wasn't really good, but he was pretty good,” Norman said. “What he was really good at is making people laugh.”
Norman said Harris developed his comedy in junior high and high school, remembering his baritone voice that could be heard from a distance.
“You could hear him come in, Rick would come in the classroom talking about everybody in the front row and second row and third row, yeah he’d talk about everybody,” Norman said.
Aspirations to pursue a career in football were further delayed when he sustained a knee injury while at Long Beach City College that almost left him paralyzed, said his younger brother Derrick. It was when he left LBCC that he became seriously focused on what he wanted to do and what he wanted to be, according to his brother.
Although he moved to Los Angeles to chase his Hollywood career, family and friends said his love for Long Beach remained strong.
“The dude loved Long Beach more than anybody I know who grew up in Long Beach,” Derrick said. “He kept a house out here. He always wanted to be close to Long Beach. He loved the people, he loved the diversity of it, he loved everything about it.”
The tribute show is scheduled to begin at 8:00PM on Sunday, January 15 and will feature performances by Lester Barrie, Jeff Arnold, Paul Deese, McClinton Neal and other comedians. Norman said all proceeds will go toward Harris’ family.
The Long Beach Laugh Factory is located at 151 South Pine Avenue.