When a celebrity I didn't know in person dies, I prefer to stay out of the conversation. I don't want to be involved with the 140 character posts that declare how much the deceased meant. I prefer to keep my thoughts to myself, unless I actually have something to contribute.
Unfortunately tonight, I have something to say.
Harris Wittels, a comedian and writer passed away this evening of a suspected drug overdose. Harris Wittels is a name that many people might not immediately recognize but you'll likely have been exposed to his work.
Most notably Wittels wrote for, produced, and occasionally appeared in NBC's absolutely wonderful comedy Parks and Recreation. His character on the show was also named Harris, a stoner who worked at the low IQ animal control, and usually appeared during town hall meetings with something awful to contribute. (He is on record in Pawnee as being the only sperm donor to fill the cup.)
Harris was also in the comedy band Don't Stop Or We'll Die, who also gifted us with musical gems such as "She Got Titties" or the more g-rated, but no less funny "I Got A Perm For Our Camping Trip."
Perhaps the best way you didn't know Harris Wittels was as the alleged creator of the hashtag #Humblebrag. And finally, he was a voice that frequently popped up in Earwolf podcasts. His best (or supposedly worst) contribution was "Harris Foam Corner." Foam Corner was where Harris read off jokes he wrote that he deemed were too lame to use anywhere. They were always terrible, and it was always pretty great.
Harris was a funny guy and in reading my twitter feed it's obvious he was loved and will be missed by many comedians and writers I love and admire.
Harris also was a very prominent albeit indirect influence on me. He is one of the voices who influenced me and my desire to do more writing as well as podcasting. I wouldn't cite him as the most prominent or immediate influence, but I also am unable to discount his influence at all, and certainly can't downplay it in the least. It's people like Harris who keep my dreams alive. Those are the voices I aim to be like someday.
He contributed to a lot of things I love, and a lot of people I love miss him, and I know I'm going to miss him without realizing it. I think this is made more tragic by the at this time alleged circumstances of his death. Drug addiction is a real problem, and these are the times where it becomes painfully aware how much it affects all of us, even those who are drug free. (Quick PSA, but if you know somebody battling drug addiction-there are a myriad of services out there to help them out.)
I can't believe I'll end quoting Shakespeare, but it feels appropriate. "Alas poor Yorick. I knew him Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest." I don't write to ask you to feel sorry for me, or to prove how sensitive and in touch I am. I just wanted to say a very funny man died tonight, and I'll miss him popping up here and there. Next time you have a chance, check out some of his work. The only good news is most of his laughs will be immortalized in the internet, and he'll inevitably find a way to make you smile.
Harris Wittels, thanks for the incessant laughs you provided all of us. You will be missed.