Posts Tagged Mike DeStefano

Cringe Humor Tribute To Mike DeStefano

Sometimes people say the comedy world is a cold world filled with backbiting and people getting screwed over. Cris and Paul Italia, and Patrick Milligan of Cringe Humor proved that to be false. As part of the NY Comedy Festival, they held a tribute to Mike DeStefano, a talented comic they were working with who left us much too young.

The event was held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and it was a packed house. That was a tribute to them as well as to Mike, cause it’s not easy to get people to show up for anything in New York, when there are always so many other things to choose from.

Poster for the Cringe Humor Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Mike DeStefano after one of his shows at Gotham!

Cringe was producing Mike’s one-man show originally called “Drugs, Disease, and Death, – A Comedy”, which got changed to be the more “user-friendly” name ” A Cherry Tree In The Bronx!” It was Mike’s story of living with HIV, losing his wife to AIDS, and carrying the message of recovery to sick and suffering alcoholics and drug addicts which was part of his past, and a very important focus of his life. Mike was about helping people, as well as making them laugh in the process!

It could have been a somber event, but thanks to MC Rich Vos, who can make any event funny, and a line-up that included Bonnie McFarlane,Eugene Mirman,Robert Kelly,Kurt Metzger, Mike Vecchione, and Colin Quinn, it was a raucous laughfest! Mike would have been happy. His look-alike brother Joe was there, and the likeness is astonishing.

(L-R) Rich Vos, Colin Quinn, and Richie Tienken at the Cringe Humor Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Eugene Mirman onstage at the Cringe Humor Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Robert Kelly at a previous comedy show!

I went with Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip where Mike was a regular, although it didn’t start out that way. When Mike’s Uncle Pete asked Richie to give Mike a shot, he did, but Mike was so dirty that Richie didn’t get it. Two years later, he came to perform for Richie again, and when Richie saw how much the audience liked Mike, he made him a regular. Mike hung out at The Strip a lot, before he did Last Comic Standing and afterwards as well.

So the comedy world may be a dysfunctional family, but it’s a family nevertheless!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Cris Italia of Cringe Humor and the producer of the Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Check out the video below for an exclusive interview with Cris Italia from Cringe Humor!

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Mike DeStefano's Funeral

I wasn’t able to attend the wake for Mike DeStefano so I got up extra early and made my way to St. Benedict’s Church in the Bronx, to pay my respects at his funeral.

There’s always something a little surreal about being at the funeral of someone you knew, especially when that person was relatively young, and left suddenly, in an untimely manner.  It’s hard to picture them laying there lifeless in a box, and that you’ll never see them again.

And Clergymen of all religions speak of the day when we will all be reunited in Heaven, as his Priest did when he said that Mike was now reunited with his Dad and his wife, but although those thoughts give us a  modicum of comfort, there’s still the reality to be dealt with that that person is gone from this plane, and we won’t be seeing them again.  It’s very strange.

It reminded me of the passing of my good friend Phil Hartman, who was killed in his sleep.  I was out in LA at the time and had just spoken to Phil a couple of days before his murder.  He invited me to come and visit with him and his wife Brynne that very weekend in Malibu.  I recall asking him the best way to drive to his house, and trying my best to write down the directions.  There was no GPS in those days, at least not on the rental car that I had.

For whatever reason I wasn’t able to go, but I had already told my Mom that I was going to visit Phil over the weekend.  Then when the terrible news came out, I found out from my mother, who woke me up early in the morning with the question, “Oh my G-d, are you alright?”

I was used to her being over-protective, but when I asked her why she sounded so upset, she told me what had happened to Phil, and said the initial reports were that two men were killed at Phil Hartman’s house during what looked like a robbery, and she was afraid I was one of those men.

Phil Hartman and Jeffrey Gurian at Jeffrey's piano circa 1992

After assuring her I was still alive, I did my best to process this tragedy. As the day unfurled and the facts came out, it hit me really hard that I could no longer call my buddy Phil, and I actually called his phone several times to hear his voice.  It took a few days until they turned it off.  I couldn’t comprehend what had happened to him and that I’d never speak to him again.

Then the crazy thought hit me that he didn’t know he was dead.  And I don’t mean this in any way as a joke.  I would never do that.  I’m very serious.  He went to bed fully expecting to wake up the next day as always, but he never woke up.  I was haunted by the thought of what his mind might be thinking.  That somewhere in his consciousness, he was still expecting to wake up, because he had no idea he was dead.

 

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Mike DeStefano -The Road

This film is a “must-see” and shows how dedicated Mike DeStefano was to spreading the message of recovery. You can carry a great message through comedy. WARNING- the end part about his wife is a real tear-jerker!

Rest In Peace Mike.

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Mike DeStefano Left The Stage

The first time I ever remember seeing Mike DeStefano was at a small show at P.J. Landers club, Comedy Village. Maybe he was working out some new stuff, but I wasn’t that impressed. He just seemed angry and spoke about every topic I didn’t think was funny. I had a visceral reaction to his performance and it wasn’t good.

Then I started seeing him perform around town and thought he must have had a twin cause the guy I was seeing now was REALLY funny. By the time he got Last Comic Standing I had a feeling he might win. I had written about him several times in Comedy Matters, and I looked forward to seeing him perform whenever I could.

I know he was a favorite at The Comic Strip, and owner Richie Tienken really liked him and wanted to do something special with him, using the club as his base.

Now none of that can happen. It was so weird seeing the tape of him being judged by Greg Giraldo, and realizing that they’re both gone. They’re up there with Robert Schimmel, Rich Jeni, Bill Hicks, and Mitch Hedberg probably making spirits laugh and just goofing around.

Rest in Peace Mike. You will be missed!

Posted in: Comedians In The News

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