I just found out that stand-up comic Mike DeStefano died on March 6 of a massive heart attack. The comedian was 44 years old. I knew him in a special way, so the news totally shocked and saddened me. I interviewed Mike for ComedyBeat almost a year ago, and he told me how he escaped death with comedy.
A heroin addict since he was 15, it took him another 15 years to kick the habit. A few months into sobriety, Mike discovered he could make people laugh. “That was it,” he told me. “From then on, I was obsessed with doing comedy.” And it worked. “It saved my life. Comedy. No doubt.”
Mike entertained people by connecting viscerally with them. He showed them it was possible to laugh about one’s pain. “Before, my depression and anger was something I would do drugs over, but now I realize I can say it on stage and turn it into something that’s cool. And beautiful, because everyone laughs and they enjoy it.” Rather than deny his experience, he shared it. “I think people,” he said, “really relate on a deep level to pain and suffering. Even though I was a drug addict, I talk about fear and loss and self-destruction.” Mike knew “You don’t have to be a drug addict to know what that’s like. All the suffering that everyone has— every single human being— we all lose people, we get sick, we die.”
And now we’ve lost him. RIP, Mike. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.