For any comedian or comedy fan, you've heard by now that the wonderful Mike DeStefano passed away this past Sunday. It goes without saying what a loss this is to the comedy world and just the world in general. Someone so genuinely funny and kind should not have been taken from us so soon.
Whenever anyone dies, there’s always an out pour of condolences, from both those close to the deceased as well as complete strangers. It’s always welcomed and I’m sure it brings some comfort to that person’s family. I try to put myself in their place and in the midst of that devastation; it would bring some solace to know that I wasn’t the only one who was going through grief. That someone I cared about so much meant something to other people; affected other peoples’ lives in some way. I think deep down that is what we want from life: to be remembered. Now how we are remembered is definitely not up to us. It’s just interpretations of what others saw us as…or maybe what other people wanted to see in us.
I don’t claim to have been close to Mike but what I did see, whether on stage or off, was without a doubt something that more people should’ve seen. The same thing I’ll miss from him is what I miss from most comedians that were taken too early from us: honesty, raw emotion, and the ability to just be themselves despite what anyone else thought. These are qualities that I still strive for in my own art and what serves as advice that I give to anyone who wants to be a comedian: be yourself and come from an honest place. I am in no way saying that I’m anyone who should be giving out advice, but the bravest (and funniest) comedians are those who gave their audience just that.
That is how I’ll remember him: an extremely candid and raw person. And I’ll try improving the world (at least the comedy world) by trying to do what he did. Challenge the audience. Don’t give them an easy way out. Make them listen to your honesty because it’ll make them be honest with themselves…about every flaw, every emotion, everything that makes them angry. Bring your pain and anger to the forefront because if that’s what makes you YOU then that’s what an audience will want to see. There will always be dumb audiences, but if we don’t give in and don’t cater to them, like Mike did, then I really think comedy in general could be better.
Again…I’m a nobody. I’m in no position to say anything. I’m a baby in this world, I know that. But if anybody wants to remember or honor Mike…then start with yourself. Start with what you put out there. If you are sincere and coming from a real place, you will make your art better. And I’ll never be one to say, “This is what he would’ve wanted,” but I will say that maybe Mike would’ve laughed at you. As long as you’re honest.