SPEARFISH — Musician and funny man Gordy Pratt has been making a living at joking around for most of his life.
So, when he received the diagnosis of tonsil cancer late last month, he didn’t fixate on how this news might be life altering. Instead, he thought of ways to joke about it and is even considering launching a light-hearted show focused on cancer.
Pratt already has a couple of jokes to prime the pump.
One of his friends said, ‘Tonsil cancer, that’s all in your head,” and another offered up “Man … that’s hard to swallow.”
“Even when it’s funny it’s hard to take,” he admits.
But Pratt is optimistic.
“When I was growing up, cancer was a death sentence. Today it is a manageable disease,” he said.
Pratt first noticed something awry when a tooth began hurting. He then discovered he had a mass about the size of a cherry tomato growing in his throat.
He went to see a specialist in Spearfish who took a biopsy of the mass which came back positive for tonsil cancer.
Pratt then headed to Mayo Clinic where doctors told him tonsil cancer was more common than he might think, but it’s tricky to operate on the soft pallet.
“If they did, I might end up sounding like Mickey Mouse,” he said. “We hope to shrink it with chemo and kill it with radiation.”
That’s a four-month course of action which just happens to fall within Pratt’s prime performance season – the holidays.
For years, Pratt called himself the Original Fabulous One Guy, but combined forces with Dalyce Sellers in 2017 giving birth to a brand new family-friendly, character-driven comedy and music show.
He and Sellars have had to cancel their shows.
The doctors aren’t sure if Pratt’s voice will come back after treatment, or if it does, whether it will sound the same. Consequently no one knows how long he will be out of commission and what the future holds for him professionally.
This is where Pratt’s friends come in. They have already started a Go-Fund-Me page online which has raised more than $13,000. They also have scheduled fundraisers - the first from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 22 at the Pump House at Mind Blown Studio, 73 Sherman St., in Deadwood.
Other benefit events are planned for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19, at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Homestake Opera House in Lead.
At the heart of the “Get Well Gordy” fundraisers are Pratt’s stage partner, Dalyce Sellers, cowboy singer Paul Larson, Sarah Carlson of the Homestake Opera House and radio personality Jim Thompson.
The musical extravaganzas would be about 90 minutes long and feature a myriad of performers who appreciate Pratt’s comic genius and guitar playing, and have performed with him over the years.
“We just wanted to do something to show Gordy that there is a lot of support out there for him. He needs to feel that,” Thompson said. “Hopefully this will help take away some of that financial pressure.”
Pratt said he’s feeling a little overwhelmed by all the attention and kindness from friends.
“I hope I can live up to it,” he said. “I want to get better and do what I have been doing to make people think I’m worth throwing a few bucks at.”
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