friend, george w bush, speaker, steve bridges
It’s very sad to hear the news of the passing of Steve Bridges. It’s pretty shocking, as he was only 48, and I’d just booked him for a very successful event three weeks ago. If you don’t know Steve, he’s an incredibly talented comedian and impersonator, most notably of President George W. Bush. Bush was a huge fan of Steve’s and even did a Press Club event with Steve acting as his internal monologue.
I actually knew Steve long before all that. He’d started out
as a youth minister in Texas, and found out he could make teenagers laugh by doing impersonations. He went into stand-up and doing comedy in churches, clubs and for corporate events. I connected with Steve when I started here at Premiere in 2000. He was still at the ‘scratch-out-a-living phase’ that most entertainers go through (and very few get out of). I’d gotten engaged to a southern California girl, and flew out there in early 2001 for her wedding shower. I didn’t know anyone in Orange County, so Steve took me out to dinner during her party. “But Steve, this place has cloth napkins and everything!” I knew his financial situation and said I would have been happy with El Pollo Loco, but he insisted. He was just that kind of guy.
I knew Steve was incredibly talented, and I wanted him to be successful. It turns out I was too good a salesman- which eventually led to our losing Steve as an exclusive client, but helped his career take off. I was talking to another speaker’s manager one day and mentioned how great Steve was. That manager, Randy Nolen, actually booked Steve to do an event for some business leaders in Chicago in late 2001. They talked, and came up with the idea that instead of having Steve be a stand-up comedian doing impersonations of several people (of which there are hundreds), they’d have Steve do full make-up as George W. Bush, get some great comedy writers, and become THE George W. impersonator. The only catch was that Steve would have to leave us at Premiere, and become a ‘non-exclusive’ speaker. It was tough, but turned out to be a good decision. We were Steve supports, and still kept booking him. He and Randy really found the magic formula of talent and platform, and Steve became very successful. As I mentioned before, the ‘real’ President Bush loved him. Supposedly Clinton hated impersonators, but the Bush’s- both father and son- don’t take themselves too seriously and think they’re quite funny. I even had a time where I needed to reorganize a schedule just so Steve could perform at the White House.
But obviously Steve was more than all of that- comedian, impersonator, but a good guy and a good friend. One of the funny things about this industry is that once you start getting managers and agents- even good people- sometimes you loose that personal connection. Steve would always make sure to figure out a way to say hello. The last email I got from him said “Big Brian! Hope all’s well. Just leaving freezing NY. Merry Christmas.”
Our loss is heaven’s gain. I can just imagine right now Elijah is saying, “Holy Cow! That guy does an incredible ‘Moses’!” We’ll miss you Steve.