By Wesley Savick
Professor of Theatre
In 2010, I approached Tom and Ray Magliozzi with a proposal: I wanted to adapt their National Public Radio show “Car Talk” into a musical produced by the Suffolk University Theatre Department. They had every reason to doubt the wisdom of this idea and no reason whatsoever to entrust me with it. And yet, over plates of fried fish at one of their favorite haunts, they did.
My most cherished memory of Tom is from the opening night party of Car Talk: The Musical!!! Tommy was clearly enjoying himself and when he saw me, he came over and slapped me on the back.
“Wow! Good show! Honestly Wes, I didn’t think it would be this good.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because…I thought you were a SHMUCK!” He slapped me on the back again, harder, and graced me with a ringing peal of that trademark maniacal laugh I had spent so much time with over so many years. It was one of the most wonderful compliments I’ve ever received.
In loving memory of Tom Magliozzi, I return to the program notes I wrote explaining the reasons for adapting the beloved radio show into Car Talk: The Musical!!!:
…Why Car Talk: The Musical!!!? I confess at the outset I have no interest in cars (I drive an ’86 Camry long overdue for the scrapyard). But anyone who has listened to Car Talk knows automotive repair is merely the excuse to spend time with Click and Clack. In a way, the musical gave me the chance to thank Tom and Ray for decades of reliable pleasure. They would surely wince to hear me say it, but they’re more than good company: They’re role models. Their earthy, self-deprecating humor and big-hearted love of life have always been an affirmation for me of a wonderful way to exist in the world. They never take themselves too seriously yet they’re extremely knowledgeable. They take sincere pleasure in their encounters with fellow human beings. They want to help and even admit when they’re wrong! If pretension is the result of fear, they are fearless. Most important, automotive expertise has graced them with the chance to inspire millions of listeners to see the humor in their suffering…to face facts without bitterness and carry on.I feel blessed to have spent time with Tom Magliozzi, in person and through my radio. He and his crazy, life-affirming laugh will be keenly missed.