As you may know by now, comedian Greg Giraldo died earlier tonight at the age of 44. He was admitted to the hospital in New Brunswick, NJ on Saturday after overdosing on prescription medication.
Giraldo was a brilliant comedian, and has been called “prolific” by many of his fellow comics as they post their condolences on Facebook and Twitter. While I didn’t know Greg personally, I have had a few encounters with him, and he seemed – as everyone who knew him well has suggested – to have been a very affable and kind man. His smile was infectious and his eyes were warm and bright. Fans loved his work on the Comedy Central Roasts and of course on this season of Last Comic Standing.
But Giraldo was more than a comedian; he was also a father of three. In May 2009, Giraldo was interviewed by Psychology Today about the role failure played in his life, and his comments about being both a stand-up and a Dad reveal a man who was driven not only by demons, but also by a great love of his sons.
When asked about what distracted him from focusing harder on his writing, Giraldo told Jay Dixit:
I have three kids, and I love them more than anything. It’s easy to obsess, not even in a healthy way, distracted by worries about them and their future and how they’re doing. How they feel and how they’re coping. Thoughts that are not productive.
When I’m actually with them, doing things with them, I feel great, fueled by that. But it’s so easy to wallow in self-hatred, like, “I let my relationship fall apart. Now they’re living with their mom and I don’t see them.” Instead of letting that fuel me creatively, it becomes a sinkhole….
I want my kids to be proud of me, and if I’m not good at what I do, and if I’m not trying my hardest at what I do, then all this shit I’m putting them through because of my demons has been a waste. The very least I can do for them is to be the best I can.
What parent can’t relate to feeling like they want their kids to be proud of the work they do? This is especially important for those of us whose work takes us away from our kids for a few days at a time. When you travel for work, there’s a very urgent sense that the time spent away from your children has to be bettering their lives – a sense that you can’t screw up. And yet against that kind of pressure, it’s so easy to feel like a failure. Balancing a love of work and a love of family is tough for anyone – especially for those of us whose jobs force us day in and day out to mine the best of ourselves, to share with the world our thoughts and feelings, a process that is both immensely rewarding and extraordinarily taxing.
Though I’m heartbroken to hear it, I understand how it is that Giraldo lost his life to the party monster. Most comedians are hobbling around on a crutch or two, as Giraldo detailed in his recent stand-up special, Midlife Vices. I’d love to post his clip about why parents deserve to drink more than everyone else, but it’s explicit, so if you’d like to watch it, you can do so here.
Please enjoy this clip from 2002 of Greg enthusiastically ranting about parenting. In two minutes, Giraldo covers comparing pets to kids, whether or not to circumcise, how long to breastfeed – and he even throws in a subtle nod to China’s one child policy. Amazing. Rest in peace, Greg. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.
|Greg Giraldo – Raising Kids|