Comedy writer Tom Koch, who invented Squamish sports parody for Mad Magazine, dies
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LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. — Writer Tom Koch, who created sketches for the comedy team Bob and Ray and invented a nonsensical, nearly impossible-to-play sport called 43-Man Squamish, has died at age 89.
Koch (pronounced Cook) died March 22 at his Laguna Woods home, his son John told The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1F6ELxU ). The cause was pulmonary failure.
The funny man, who received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, began his career writing for future “Today” show host Dave Garroway’s NBC radio program “Monitor.”
He tired of that work, however, and was living with his wife’s family in St. Louis in 1955 when Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding approached him about writing for them.
Over the next 33 years he turned out thousands of uncredited sketches for the pair.
“He certainly contributed a big part of the Bob and Ray repertoire on radio,” Elliott told the Times.
The sketches always arrived by mail. Elliott recalled meeting Koch in person only three times and believed his late partner saw Koch only once.
Segueing into television, Koch also wrote for “The Lucy Show, “My Mother the Car” and other programs.
He might be best remembered, however, for inventing the ridiculously complicated game of squamish for a 1965 Mad Magazine story lampooning professionalism in college sports.
It requires 43 players per side, each wearing a polo helmet and carrying hooked sticks called frullips. Players use the sticks to grasp the necks of opposing players trying to advance the pritz, a small ball stuffed with blue jay feathers.
The game developed a cult following, with fans claiming to have played various versions.