Harris Wittels cannot be forgotten. His impact on the comedy world will be impossible to shake for decades to come, but his personal impact on the people within comedy will remain his lasting legacy.
One year ago, the Parks and Recreation writer passed away in a drug-related incident that became one of the biggest emotional gut punches in recent memory. Wittels had been such a beloved and goofy persona that it seemed impossible he would ever be visited by tragedy.
For the uninitiated, Wittels was a huge online presence. His Twitter account remains online and perusing it today is probably the greatest tribute you can pay him. It was on this account that he invented the concept of #humblebrag, which he later collected into a pretty excellent book.
Wittels was also a star of the improv scene in L.A., frequently guesting on Comedy Bang! Bang! and various other podcast off-shoots.
He was also an unapologetic Phish fan, with his own podcast on the subject. Nathan Rabin covered Wittels’ death for Phish.net and summed up his excellent connection during a guest appearance on Analyze Phish:
“So even though I was ostensibly on the show as a guest and an expert going on a parallel journey with Aukerman, I was really just there as a fan: a fan of Phish but also a fan of Wittels and Aukerman. Though I am almost a decade older than Wittels and he was as unassuming as comic geniuses come, I was intimidated by him. So it was honestly just a joy being around people who were so good at what they did and enjoyed each other’s company so much. It was a pleasure just to be around Wittels as he experienced a surge of childlike joy at being able to talk about Phish with people who shared his love for them.”
This kind of connection has also led Rabin to write about Wittels’ final appearence on You Made It Weird as an example of one of the beautiful legacies that podcasts can provide for dead geniuses.
So take some time to appreciate Harris today, and maybe pull up a Sarah Silverman Show episode or something he wrote for Eastbound & Down. At the very least, drop a #humblebrag in his honor.
If someone in your life is struggling with addiction, take a moment to reach out.