It all happened in very short order. In early June, on the Today show, an announcement was made about a contest to find the funniest dad in America in celebration of Father’s Day. “Apply online,” they said, “if you’re a dad with a funny story to tell.” Maple Grove resident M. David Ricks, on his way to work to his Sheer Treasures store at the Northtown Mall in Blaine, a health and wellness products business, decided to go for it. He applied and asked his wife Gail to help him make a brief comedy routine video later that day. When Ricks wanted to record the 34-second video a second time, Gail, who’d been at work all day as an educator and whose daughter’s wedding was fast approaching, said it was going to have to be good enough as is.
And guess what? It was. The very next morning, NBC producers called Ricks and asked if he’d be available to come to New York in two weeks. At this point, Ricks had to do a few quick calculations in his head: What about the wedding? Again, Ricks went for it. “If I’m chosen, I’ll be there,” he said. Sure enough, Ricks and two other funny dads were chosen as finalists. After the wedding, “My whole family was flown to New York,” Ricks says. On June 15, he performed live on the Today show and was officially declared America’s Funniest Dad.
For corroboration, we consulted Rick’s son, Grandville Ricks: Is his dad really funny? “It didn’t surprise me at all that he won,” Grandville says. “My old man has always wanted to do comedy.” Grandville recalls a family vacation in Jamaica during which his father used Grandville’s sister in a ventriloquism set to open a comedy show at the resort where the family was staying. “Since he’d never performed ventriloquism before, you can imagine how this turned out!” Grandville says. Next, a long-winded joke was followed by one of somewhat elementary-school quality, Grandville adds. But while his dad may have faltered in Jamaica, “he continued to write jokes in his journal. His current jokes are indeed quite funny,” Grandville assures, “and he’s been able to deliver them to a variety of different audiences.”
One of those audiences was at the Acme Comedy Club on July 15. “I’d already signed up for the Acme’s Funniest Person Contest” when the NBC contest arose, Ricks explains, and his performance was, in his opinion, “excellent.” Unfortunately, he went over time by 14 seconds, which is an automatic disqualification.
“I’ve had an interest in comedy my whole life,” Ricks insists, saying that people have always told him he’s funny and that as a school principal and administrator (he retired five years ago) “you’re exposed to a lot of funny stories.” The vast majority of his humor is clean, which means he can perform just about anywhere. Furthermore, he says, “I do a great impersonation of Barack Obama.” Many of his students used to say he even looks like President Obama. Of note to Ricks is the recent announcement of Saturday Night Live’s release of cast member and frequent Obama impersonator Jay Pharoah. “I’m trying to figure out how to get on SNL,” Ricks says. In the meantime, it’s hard for him to get away from the store often enough to show up for local open mic nights and comedy gigs. Even so, he’s enjoying building his repertoire. Oh, and should you go see him: Look for the man in the vest. “My trademark is my vest and long-sleeve shirt,” he says.
So, how funny is M. David Ricks really?
Check it out for yourself at his website here.