Why will Greg Louganis never make it as a comedian?
Because his manager books him only into dives.
Seriously, folks, while other Seoul survivors were looking forward to the closing ceremonies of the XXIV Olympiad, Louganis, winner of two gold medals in diving, was already onstage at the Improv, an L.A. comedy club, taping a segment of Improv Tonite that will air in syndication this week. Louganis, who has previously performed with a dance company in Indianapolis, is hoping his Olympic success will be a springboard to a show-business career. According to friend and publicist Scot Barton, Greg didn’t mind the idea of missing the closing ceremonies “because they keep all the athletes out in the parking lot until the ceremony is over.” Louganis, said Barton, “decided to come home and watch on TV, like everyone else.”
Before that could happen, Louganis opened his Improv act by cracking a joke about cracking his skull on the three-meter springboard in Seoul: “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It’s great to be here. I had a little problem on my way up here this evening. I hit my head backstage. But I promise it won’t affect my performance at all. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It’s great to be here….”
Louganis’ comedy debut had a high degree of difficulty because he had little time to rehearse after his flight from Korea. Still, the result was by no means a washout, even if he did fall back on some obvious props. “They have some fabulous shopping over in Korea,” he told the audience. “I picked up some incredible jewelry, so what do you think?” Then he held up (what else?) his gold medals, and the audience flipped.
The road to riches, of course, is strewn with erstwhile gold medalists fallen into obscurity. (Mark Spitz swims to mind.) Louganis does not intend to pursue comedy as a career, which may be a good thing, but he is serious about his acting. “I’ll put the same dedication into that and dancing as I did into my diving,” he says. Before his Improv gig, he learned that he was the winner of the Olympic Spirit Award presented by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Dutifully, he hopped on a plane for the 13-hour flight back to Seoul, taped the award presentation, then jetted back to L.A. again the next morning to watch the closing ceremonies at home. The kid may never win an Oscar, but he’s a lock for a frequent-flier award.