Larry "Bubbles" Brown called me a few minutes ago letting me know that the comedy grapevine had put out the word that Richard Jeni committed suicide earlier in the day. I never knew Jeni but he was at one time one of the hottest comics working. He apparently was suffering through some health problems which is probably why he took his own life. We'll find out soon enough.
It got me to thinking about comedians that have passed away since I've been doing comedy, some I knew, some I knew of. Warren Thomas was a brilliant, brilliant comic and I'm glad to have called him a friend. His tragic death, found in a seedy New York hotel and his body not claimed for many weeks, will never be explained. I still have full performance tapes from Warren at the Punchline.
I knew Mitch Hedberg and was friendly with him and his OD was also a sad end. Warren Spottswood and Mike "Boats" Johnson have passed away in the last couple of years and I saw them in the SF comedy clubs but never had the chance to know them too well.
I had met Bill Hicks but wasn't on a personal basis with him. He was the Lenny Bruce of my generation. Hicks was simply the best comic I've ever seen in person. Sam Kinison followed me on stage at the Comic Strip in New York one night.
There are other sad passings, those that had troubled lives or failed expectations. Dan Bradley was a guy who had done "Evening at the Improv" a ton of times but ended up hanging himself in Houston, Texas after his career wained. Ken Tsumori who had a chance but got fucked up by his overbearing father and fell into mental illness died in a tragic fire a few years back. Drake Sather who had worked his way up the entertainment ladder shot himself over marital problems.
Comedians die all the time on stage. They die only once off stage.