Frank Payne passed away this past Sunday. Frank was in the very first show I ever directed here in Chicago. It was laboriously titled, “The Superhero Society of America Presents Crisis on Improv Earth.” It was Frank, Aaron Haber, Tim Chidester, Keli Semelsberger, Amy Stark and Kevin Fleming. Del Close and I were talking about comic books and he suggested I do a show based on them… and so I did. The show was terrible. The Chicago Reader said so and that makes it so, I guess. (Don’t read that review… it’s freaking brutal, but well deserved. In my own defense, we revamped it and the long-form went on to perform at various venues and even several Wizard World conventions and Scott Adsit laughed aloud at us.)
Frank was a great performer and a born comedian. He was damn funny. He and I had Del class together and when Del passed away Frank regaled us with this behind-the-scenes tale from the classic “Baby’s Day Out”.
“Del Close is teaching you. Hey Joe (Mantegna), you know Del. (J.M. nods “yes”) Yeah Del, he shot my first wife with her first heroin trip back in Frisco” – Joe Pantiollano
Frank moved out to LA a while ago and we didn’t keep in touch as much as we should have, but thanks to Facebook we frequently commented on each others activities. He was quick with a kind word or compliment for an old friend in his hometown and even though I wasn’t lucky enough to see him every day I feel his absence.
So long, friend.