The way he could bring his head up and be a deer, startled in the woods. For just a moment, he was a deer. Or a particularly threatening rabbit. Or his own heart attack, twisting his own arm behind his back. Or a kid going to get his own switch for a whupping. Or the way his Grandma said "Bwoy--" until her exasperation flipped to love and she said "Come here, Baby". Or a nervous white guy dodging pushy black people and then a blue collar white guy barking, "All right, cut the shit..!" Or a cheetah stumbling over a kill, expressing outrage at the prey and then pretending to be cool.
The pet monkeys that "ran up your arm and tried to fuck your ear: 'Eee eee eee eee eee eee eee.' Felt like a wet Q-Tip." Then one day the monkeys died.
The mean German Shepherd next door: "Hey, Rich-- what's the matter?"
(Sobbing.) "... My monkey died."
German Shepherd, honestly sympathetic: "... Ain't that a bitch? (pause.) I was gonna eat them."
Lions, hunched down, shoulders twitching, murmuring to tourists in Africa: "Come on. Get on out of the car. Bring the camera, too. We eat allll that shit."
Or Mudbone, rubbing a rare patch of sunlight on his face because it was "Hardt Times" and you had to grab some sun on your face while you had the chance.
Or the retarded gazelle, unable to understand what the other antelopes were telling him:
The time he shot the car. Set himself on fire and went running down the street, and if there's a better metaphor for his life as an artist I can't think of it. The time he got some Play-boy bunny pussy. "I was in the big time!" The way his body contorted in honest pain and outrage, not the calculated poses of the sitcom comedian. The way he said "Suck. MAH dick." over his shoulder more dismissively than anyone ever has. And of course, he taught us the proper pronunciation and emphasis for "motherfucker", so on all other tongues it seems forced and desperate.
The neighborhood drunk telling the drug addict, "You got to know how to DEAL with the white man."
It never seemed like he was "trying" to be funny to win our smile; he just WAS funny. He would have been funny by himself, in the middle of the Outback. Like that thing about Shakespeare's sister, or Goethe saying if Shakespeare had been stolen by gypsies, we would neer have heard the stories but there would have been a gypsy around a campfire somewhere whose stories could raise the hair on the back of your neck. I've never seen a performer with less skin between himself and the world. He would have made his peculiar music no matter what earthly cage he had been born into, and we were blessed to have at least some of it recorded, but oh don't you wish we had just a little bit more?