Editor’s Note: UC Berkeley student Adam Rice died in July while studying abroad at the University of Sussex. He was 21.
Below, senior Geoff Kaufman remembers his friend and colleague.
In the two months since Adam Rice’s passing, I’ve heard one thing repeated endlessly: everyone knew he was going to be famous. He was a true comedian who could’ve written, performed and edited his own show. In a way, he was already famous. He had gained an enormous following, and the Berkeley improv community held him in the highest regard. When Adam complimented someone, he or she would react like the people who pass the first round of American Idol. It was the ultimate moment of validation, given his immense talent and unforgiving honesty.
I met Adam through our improv and sketch comedy group, Jericho. At first, I was jealous of his talent, but as I got to know him, my feeling toward him became less of a jealousy and more of an admiration. We shared a passion for nerding out on comedy: taking improv classes together, analyzing movies — he could talk about the first Spiderman movie for days — and doing improv alone on the roof of his house. His partnership was what made Jericho far more than an extracurricular activity for me.
During Adam’s time on Jericho, he worked on dozens of videos and sketches, becoming the favorite of most audience members. He took the helm last spring as director, laying the foundation for what I believed to be Jericho’s best semester. He had us do an improvised movie and taught us to simulate camera angles, stunts and special effects. He was always very clear with what he wanted us to do, which challenged the group and brought it to a new level. Under his direction, Jericho was no longer a group of college students taking turns being funny. We were a single unit, working together to assemble 25 minutes of coherent, memorable sketch comedy.
Along with his knack for comedy, Adam was known for his technical filmmaking abilities. Whenever I was making a video that I really cared about, I would make sure Adam was there. Adam’s laptop crashed the night before one of our shows, destroying one of the videos he had been working on. That night, he filmed the entire thing a second time and came out with a stellar product.
Adam’s death has brought me in contact with many people who were affected by him, which has in turn shown me all of the things I had yet to really understand about him. Perhaps the most surprising moment was when his American Studies professor, Kathleen Moran, flew down to Los Angeles for his service and spoke to his graces for a good 10 minutes. She even shared messages from other UC Berkeley professors who had been touched by Adam.
Anybody you ask could tell you Adam was smart, funny and all-around gifted. But he was also a loyal, compassionate friend. Very few friends in my life have been able to tell me they love me, but Adam said it often. He appreciated his loved ones vocally, as if every time he saw them would be the last. That is one of the many things I hope to take from the time during which I knew Adam.
In this miserable time, that’s the one thing that keeps me optimistic. Adam was hugely influential. The budding comedians he inspired through Jericho and his DeCal, the people who loved him, every person who got to laugh with him — a little bit of Adam is in each of them, and the world is a better place because of it.
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