Raina Deerwater ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Known primarily for his work on Parks and Recreation, comedian, writer and producer Harris Wittels passed away in his home on Thursday, February 19th reportedly due to a possible drug overdose. However, the cause of death should not be the focus when looking back on Wittels’ life, for he brought so much laughter into the world for the 30 years he was in it.
Though he was not a household name, Wittels brought his own style of comedy to the projects he worked on. His stand up was clever and out-there in a way that got him noticed by Sarah Silverman, just shortly after graduating Emerson. Silverman became a close friend and mentor to Wittels and he became a writer for The Sarah Silverman Project.
He was known for being a blunt and honest comedian, and brought his own wit and sense of humor to the projects he worked on and created. His work on the cult podcast Comedy Bang Bang with Scott Aukerman is greatly admired throughout the comedy community. Wittels also formed the band “Don’t Stop or We’ll Die” with two other comedians. The irony of the band name is not lost on us, and it is almost fitting that even in his death, he brought more humor to the world.
Wittels is mostly known and admired for his work on Parks and Recreation. He has been a writer on the show since the second season, and has been an executive producer for the past two years. With only one more week to air, Parks tragically surpasses Wittels by mere days. His contributions as a writer define the show in so many ways. It was in “Practice Date,” the first episode he wrote for the show, that the iconic Duke Silver (Ron Swanson playing the saxophone) first appears, as well as Leslie Knope’s terrible English accent and so many other staples of the show known and loved today. He has written so many iconic moments of Parks: Ben and Leslie’s first kiss, the name “Torple,” Ben Wyatt: Human Disaster, “jogging keeps you healthy, but at what cost?” and so many other moments and lines that fans of Parks and Recreation will quote for decades.
It’s hard to note the impact someone has until they are gone. Harris Wittels was a talent that was on the rise, and a majority of the public had not yet made notice of his achievements. Now, over the next few days, people will scour his work and realize what an incredibly talented man he was. They will come to the conclusion that many are already at: the world has truly lost a wonderful comedian and human being.