Parks and Recreation Co-Executive Producer Harris Wittels Dies: Amy Poehler and More Pay Tribute
The producer, writer and comedian was found dead of a possible overdose
Following a possible overdose, Harris Wittels was found dead in his Los Angeles home on Thursday night, reports Entertainment Weekly. He was 30.
At the Unite4:Humanity event in Beverly Hills on Thursday, Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler paid homage to Wittels during her acceptance of the unity award: “So, here’s my daily life – today, I lost a friend. I lost a dear, young man in my life who was struggling with addiction and died. Just a few hours before we came,” she said.
“Jane [Aronson] and I sat and talked about it. I’m sharing it with you because life and death live so close together and we walk that fine line every day and at the end of the day when things happen in our lives, we turn to people that we love, and we look to our family and our community for support, and we lean on people in a hope that they will ease our pain,” Poehler finished.
Wittels began his career in standup before he was drafted by Sarah Silverman to write for The Sarah Silverman Program in 2007. He joined the writing staff of Parks and Recreation in its second season before becoming a co-executive producer in later seasons. The show will wrap its seventh and final season next week.
He was also well known for coining the term “humblebrag,” about which he wrote the book Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty in 2012. Wittels frequently appeared on Comedy Bang Bang with Scott Aukerman, known for his recurring segment “Harris’s Foam Corner.”
The comedian was candid about his struggle with addiction, telling fellow comedian Pete Holmes on his podcast You Made it Weird back in 2012 that he had been a drug user since he was 12 years old.
He revisited the podcast in November and told Holmes, 35, that he had spent time in the Promises Rehab Center in Malibu. Wittels relapsed immediately following completion of the program, revealing that he was, at one point, taking upwards of 15 Oxycontin pills per day and that he had even started doing heroin. At the time of recording, however, sobriety was a “fresh” thing for him.
The evening before his death, Wittels performed standup at The Meltdown in L.A. and talked about his sobriety and how he was in a “good place,” reports TMZ.
Poehler, Silverman, Holmes and more in the comedy community have Tweeted about the loss.
“He was my baby,” Tweeted Silverman, 44. “I just keep thinking of Superman flying backwards around the earth. I wish I could do that. I’m so mad at you Harris. You should know that Harris was brilliant beyond compare. That his imagination was without limit. That he loved comedy more than anything.”
Added Silverman: “His heart was big and he FELT hard. That he was someone who would reach out to tell you he was thinking of you for no particular reason.”
“So funny, honest and loving. We lost a great one today,” wrote Holmes. “So sad.”
Wittels’s friends have also taken to re-Tweeting some of his jokes in tribute.
• Reporting by REAGAN ALEXANDER