Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dead Comedians

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.


At 6:05 PM, Blogger Ed Attanasio, Freelance Writer, Journalist, Baseball Historian, Comedian and Ad Copywriter said...

Yeah, I just found out about Spottswood today while talking to Perry Kurtz. We have not met, but I'm good freinds with Larry "Bubs." He lives 6 blocks from me in SF. Comics are falling like flies. It's sad.

At 1:55 AM, Blogger Ayan said...

I just found out tonight (several years after the fact) about Warren Thomas' death. I can't sleep and my wife is angry that I am up all night looking at videos of Warren and other comics and things from the late 80's and early 90's. Warren was a force of nature and a sweet guy in many ways. I worked with him all over the NW for the Fox/Punchline folks. My favorite was Spokane WA. We were there doing a two person show and every night was a special show. I would open and do 45 minutes (a stretch for me in any other club) and Warren would do an hour or more. We stayed at the condo by the club and I remember he was GREATLY appreciative when I cooked him a steak for dinner. Most nights, the shows went so well, we couldn't stop after our sets were done. We did joke contests; improv, or hung out with the crowds in the bar.

I have been out of comedy and away from San Francisco for over 15 years, but it still seems like only yesterday/a lifetime ago.

I will miss you Warren. I wonder if you have made God blush yet.

Pete Kirby

At 8:07 PM, Blogger RebeccaK said...

Hi, Pete.
Want to know what you're up to.


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