Harris Wittels' Death: A Loss for 'Parks and Rec' and the Comedy World

February 20, 2015 4:38 PM

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Harris Wittels' Death: A Loss for 'Parks and Rec' and the Comedy World

Harris Wittels had the kind of ubiquity, at the age of only 30, that most stand-up comedians can only fantasize about. His unique presence on stage—avuncular and easygoing, while engaging with the darkest topics in the strangest ways—got him noticed quickly and hired as a staff writer for The Sarah Silverman Show, and later Eastbound and Down and Parks and Recreation (he worked on every season but the first). As a stand-up, Wittels toured with Louis C.K.; he was a drummer in Don’t Stop Or We’ll Die, a rollicking band comprised of fellow comics; he coined the term (and Twitter account) “humblebrag,” which was later turned into a book. From the early days of podcasting, he was a star, one of the most memorable voices in the still-expanding scene that's become such a vital part of the comedy landscape.

Wittels died Thursday at his home from what's reported to be an apparent overdose. A huge part of his appeal as a comic was his naked honesty, and Wittels openly discussed his problems with drugs and his efforts to get sober on-stage and off. Last November, he appeared on the comedian Pete Holmes’ s...

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