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Harris Wittels: 1984-2015

The life and legacy of a young comedian.

There are few people in this life who are decent. There are even fewer who are flat-out talented. Harris Wittels was both. That is why it was such a bitch to lose him last night, and to lose him at such a ridiculously young age.

It’s hard to discuss legacy when considering the life of someone who died at the age of 30, but if the reaction on Twitter last night was any indication, Wittels was the rarest of creatures in any artistic medium: one with a pure voice, an angle on the universe that resonated for its simple uniqueness and insight. The outpouring of retweets from his account and the retelling of favorite jokes recalled the stars of earlier times (Steven Wright) and the deaths of earlier icons (Mitch Hedberg) who twisted the world in ways that made you see it anew, so you couldn’t look at “spot remover” or koala bears or dudes who are overly affectionate to puppies in the presence of women in the same way ever again.

Wittels was probably most famous for creating the term #humblebrag, his excellent stand-up, and his work on one of the great sitcoms of the last 20 years, Parks and Recreation. But to me, someone who had the pleasure of editing him for all too brief a period, I will always remember him as someone who was decent and warm and professional and — above all else — who made me laugh at a time when this site was still toddling on its baby legs. His kindness is what I remember most. He will be missed.