Once an overweight comic from Canada, Rick Ducommun slimmed down in the late 1980s and went on to tackle solid co-starring roles in feature films and TV, as well as headline several HBO and other pay-cable specials.
Ducommun grew up on a farm, the son of an entrepreneur father with whom he did not get along. Running away from home at age 14, he hitchhiked around the northern U.S., often living in communes, until returning to Canada at age 17, this time to Vancouver.
On a dare, Ducommun tried to do stand-up comedy at a Vancouver club. He was not only asked back, but bitten by the show business bug. He began playing clubs in Canada, hosted his own children’s show, “ZigZag,” and was put on TV by Alan Thicke, who was then hosting a talk show out of Vancouver.
When Thicke made his deal to do Thicke of the Night (1983), a late-night talk show from L.A., he brought Ducommun down to be announcer and a performer. When the show flopped, Ducommun began performing at L.A. clubs and acting in sitcoms. He was one of the zany cops on The Last Precinct (1986) — a short-lived NBC show, and Mahler on Max Headroom (1987). Ducommun also played small parts in films, beginning with No Small Affair (1984) but found himself limited by a frame carrying 426 lb. He slimmed down more than 200 lb., and won the role of Art Weingartner, the dumb lug nosy neighbor to Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs (1989).
Despite good reaction to his work, the film was not a success, and Ducommun found himself mixing live performances in with his occasional film work, including an appearance in Blank Check (1994).
HBO did a special with Ducommun in 1989 called Rick Ducommun: Piece of Mind (1989), which was well received, as was the follow-up, “Hit and Run” in 1992. Ducommun frequently hosted pay and cable programs featuring stand-up comedy and was an regular performer on the Comedy Channel, later renamed, Comedy Central.
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