About five years ago while I was working for the station in Memphis, I did a satellite interview with Ray Romano. He was still on the comedy circuit and appearing at Gold Strike in Tunica but was doing media interviews about “Everybody Loves Raymond” which was then beginning to find an audience.
During the interview I casually mentioned his love with golf and he asked if there were any good golf courses in the Memphis area where he could play. I told him I’d get us a tee-time if he wanted to play and he said sure. “Make it a foursome, the guy opening for me likes to play too.”
I sort of thought he was just being nice so after the tape stopped rolling I asked him if he were serious. He was.
A few days later I stood at a Memphis golf course waiting on Ray Romano and some other guy to show up to play. A car pulls up and out comes Ray with Kevin James who was then an occassional character on “Raymond”.
The guys were great. Very funny, but real too. Not show business types at all. It had started to rain but we’re golfers so we plan to play no matter how hard it rains.
We played skins which means whoever wins a hole gets a buck from each player.
Ray seemed to be about a 15 handicap and Kevin was probably around a 20. We played 3 holes when my pager went off. The weekend reporter (who was starting a vacation the following day) had called in sick. Yeah, right. That’s what I said.
Since I was the on-call reporter, I had no choice but to go in.
So I had to cut a golf game short with one of the biggest names in television because another reporter wanted to start his vacation early.
Ray and Kevin were hilarious. They were serious about their games but had so many funny quips it was hard to concentrate. I ended up paying Raymond a dollar while Kevin owed me two.
The thing that I remember most about playing golf with these guys is that were real. There was no phoniness at all. Ray seemed exactly like the character I watch on tv. When he made a bad shot he said “ohhhhhhmoooootttthhhheerrrrrrrrr”
There was no cursing. No surprises. No “don’t you know who I am” attitude.
He was genuine. And so is his show. “Everybody Loves Raymond” may be one of the last great traditional situation comedies on tv. It’ll probably be replaced with another reality show or contest. But the show and Ray are about as real as you can find on tv.
I hate to see it end.