Greg Giraldo will be missed

It’s hard to accept that Greg Giraldo is dead. An accidental overdose on pain killers was his cause of death, dying in a hospital four days after he had been found passed out in a hotel room before a show.

Giraldo was a recovering alcoholic, but he wasn’t a junkie. He was a Harvard graduate and a lawyer before he turned to comedy, where he became the industry standard for roasts and all other forms of personal mockery. And while his successes in standup never translated to more mainstream accolades like movies or sitcoms, the niche he did carve out, he owned.

So how he was able to perform scalpel-precise cuts into other people’s lives yet not realize that his own problems would lead to his eventual downfall still confuses me. This was supposed to be someone who had figured it out. He had seemingly already been down that path and come out the other side better from it, but as we all learned last week, that wasn’t the case.

What I’ve come to understand, through watching interviews with other comics or re-watching Giraldo’s old performances, is most comedians use their shows as an escape from their daily torments. The hour they get on stage, venting out their frustrations over whatever’s on their mind, is an hour that most closely mimics the high they get from recreational drugs.

It’s the reaction from the audience, having the control over total strangers to the point that your thoughts become theirs that drives them on to the next show in the next town. And for most, it’s this persistent drive towards immediate gratification that careens them into addiction. Comedy is a drug just like any other. The high of the performance is always met with the hangover of going back to your hotel room with only your demons to keep you company. This is where alcohol, cigarettes, pills, anything they can get their hands on to stave off a few more hours of cold reality come into play.

Not a single one of us can say they are without temptation. And when let loose to run your life, those temptations become addictions. There are a few of us who have the will power to delve into all types of vice without drowning in them, and to those, I say God bless. You’re among the few people that don’t have to deal with the sliding feeling of lost control to something so seemingly innocent as the occasional high. Consider yourself lucky, because most don’t have it like you.

I’m going to miss Greg Giraldo. At 44-years-old he still had plenty of comedy left in him, and as a fan of his work I selfishly wanted to keep him around. Anyone can call David Hasselhoff a hack, but nobody else could compare his drunken cheeseburger-eating internet video to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I’ll always remember him for his roasts, but the reality of a man so gifted succumbing to a high is, at the very least, sobering.

Austen Gregerson is a junior majoring in print journalism and political science. He may be contacted at agregerson@themiamihurricane.com.

October 11, 2010


Austen Gregerson

Staff Columnist

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Greg Giraldo will be missed”

  1. Mike Hunt says:

    I am sure he will be missed; just not by everyone. I for one happen to believe that those verbal “scalpel-precise cuts” were done without regard to the amount of emotional blood that would bleed out from his victims, I mean audience. See, it’s not only the people who pay to attend his performances that are affected. Kids can see inon Youtube and other places as well as cable tv. His cruel mockery of obese kids, those with emotional issues and others have left scars that may never heal. Yes, it’s hard to understand how someone who had “figured it out” could have so many personal issues. But the reality is, he had not figured it out. That was an illusion, as was his comedy.

  2. Amanda says:

    I respectfully take issue with a statement you made: “Giraldo was a recovering alcoholic, but he wasn’t a junkie.” I think a lot depends on what you assume ‘junkie’ means. Maybe he wasn’t into selling drugs. I don’t know. But the fact that he happened to graduate Harvard and spend a year or so as a lawyer does not somehow make him above the law or incapable of being a drug abuser. Marilyn Monroe was not a junkie, nor was Chris Farley and the legion of comedians and celebrities whose lives ended far too soon by “accidentally” oversdosing on drugs, whether they be prescribed or illicit drugs.

    Many people found the dark, insulting humor of Mr. Giraldo to be hysterical. What I found any time I happened to tune into a so called roast or a standup routine was a foulmouthed, mean spritied man, who under the guise of “comedy” would call women the “C-word,” mock the retarded and ridicule obese children. Who is to say how much damage he did to the fragile self esteem of young kids? And please don’t say they should not be viewing adult humor. The internet allows anyone of any age to access anything! His mockery of religion and things people hold dear was his schtick. I say what it all added up to was a bright but very sad, angry and bitter person pretending to be a comedian. Instead of mirroring a Jack Benny, a Milton Berle or a Red Skelton….instead of taking the ceap shots at himself and his own addictions, his own fears and his own insecurities, he lashed out at others disabilities, beliefs and struggles. And all in the name of “insult comedy.” To dignify such nonsense and call it humor is for the Archie Bunkers of today. To say that he was nothing like that in real life and this was just a style is naive at best. He was married at the time his GIRLFRIEND was doing CPR on him. He was a raging alcoholic and also an obvious drug user. Anyone can get a prescription for the asking. And who “accidentally” takes a FATAL dose of pain bills? Huh? Divorced, not that famous and perhaps feeling guilty over his verbal attacks, who is to say he did not “accidentally on purpose” take a handful of pills to end it all? You?

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