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Subject: ARCHIVE: September 29, 2010 ~Greg Giraldo, lawyer-turned-famed stand-up comedian, television personality, best remembered for his appearances on Comedy Central's televised roast specials, dies days after OD, at age 44. ...

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Date Posted: Saturday, September 29, 11:10:53am

Greg Giraldo
[ Gregory C. Giraldo ]
(December 10, 1965 – September 29, 2010)

American stand-up comedian, television personality, and lawyer. He is remembered for his appearances on Comedy Central's televised roast specials, and for his work on that network's television shows Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, Lewis Black's Root of All Evil, and the programming block Stand-Up Nation, the last of which he hosted.

Early life …
Giraldo was born in The Bronx and raised in Bayside, Queens. His father, Alfonso, was from Colombia and worked for Pan Am, and his mother, Dolores, was from Spain. Giraldo was raised Roman Catholic and spoke fluent Spanish. He was the oldest of three children (brother John and sister Elizabeth). Giraldo played the guitar in a band in his late teens/early twenties.

Giraldo was an excellent student and was accepted into the prestigious Regis High School in Manhattan. After graduating from Regis in 1983 he went on to earn a bachelor's degree in English from Columbia University in 1987 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1990. While at Columbia, he was an active member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity. Giraldo was admitted to Harvard Law School after he achieved a near perfect score on his Law School Admission Test (LSAT), scoring in the 99th percentile of students taking the test.

Before becoming a comedian, Giraldo worked as a lawyer, spending eight months as an associate for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom before changing his occupation.

One of the cases that Giraldo handled (on a pro bono basis) was an inciting-a-riot charge that was brought against his friend and fellow comedian Jeffrey Ross in 1993. Ross was performing at a comedy club on Long Island when a member of the audience produced a toy gun that looked very similar to a real gun. Ross grabbed the gun and started fighting with the audience member and ended up getting arrested. Said Ross of the incident: "I had to go to court and Greg volunteered to be my attorney as a favor. I remember we slept in his parents' basement in Queens. We drove to court in a Jeep and had dirty blue sport jackets on. It took him two tries, but he got the case dismissed."

...Giraldo stated that at the time of the case he had never done anything in a courtroom before, and he almost ended up sending Ross to jail when the case was upgraded to a weapons charge because he had nearly told Ross to plead guilty. "The judge called us over... and I had to plead, 'I have no idea what I'm doing here.' We ended up having to get a real lawyer and come back a month later," said Giraldo.

He said the LSAT and law school went well, but the actual work as a lawyer was not an option. His family was disappointed when Giraldo got out of law practice, "but I always wanted to do something creative. I've always had real trouble knowing what my actual desires and goals are. I've just been dragged along by fate. I can't even tell you why I thought to go to law school."

He also stated: "Because I went to Harvard Law School it seemed like I had my shit together, but I did only because it’s not hard. Everyone is so self-motivated that they leave you alone. You get study outlines and just cram, but then when you get out into the real world, it gets tricky. Most comedians are people who couldn’t really work in the real world, they’re too disorganized, too lazy, too fucked up, too erratic, too unstable. If you could work in the real world you would have stayed there because it is so many years of misery in comedy before you really start popping."

In August 2000, Giraldo was featured in an Esquire magazine article that profiled several members of the Harvard Law School class of 1990 who ended up choosing career paths other than the legal profession. After turning to comedy, Giraldo rarely discussed his prior career; the Esquire article was one of the few times he mentioned his days as a lawyer.

Career …
Giraldo started doing stand-up comedy in 1992. When asked who his comedic influences were, Giraldo stated: "For me, I wasn't really influenced by the good people. I was influenced by the (crappy) people. I would watch 'Evening at the Improv' and those kind of shows, and I'd think, 'Man, those guys blow so bad. I can do that.' And I went from there."

Giraldo performed regularly at the Comedy Cellar comedy club in Manhattan, as well as clubs all over the U.S. Additionally, he was the star of the short-lived sitcom Common Law. Giraldo landed the sitcom after being spotted by Hollywood agents at the 1995 Just for Laughs festival in Montreal. From 2002 to 2004, he was a regular panelist on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. Giraldo also starred in several pilots, including Drive for CBS and The Greg Giraldo Show, Adult Content and Gone Hollywood for Comedy Central. In 2004, he was featured in the spoken-word Lazyboy song "Underwear Goes Inside the Pants."

Giraldo performed more than a dozen times on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Late Show with David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and appeared regularly on The Howard Stern Show. He also appeared as a member of the panel in the NBC show The Marriage Ref.

Giraldo acted in two Adam Dubin features, 2002's comedic short American Dummy, in which he played a psychiatrist, and 2008's animated film, What Blows Up Must Come Down!, in which he did the voice of Jihad Jo. He also did the voice of President Theodore Roosevelt in the audiobook version of Sarah Vowell's 2005 book Assassination Vacation.

He appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, Politically Incorrect, The View, Fox News Channel's The Full Nelson and Beyond the News, Louie Anderson's Comedy Showcase, Comedy Central's Comic Cabana, Showtime's Latino Comedy Festival and Funny is Funny, as well as on the BBC's Live at Jongleurs. Giraldo also performed at the United States Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of a USO tour in 2002.

He had two half-hour specials on Comedy Central Presents, wrote segments for Last Call with Carson Daly, and was a panelist on Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time special. In 2004, his stand-up material was featured in Comedy Central's animated series Shorties Watchin' Shorties. He appeared in both English and Spanish-language commercials for "1-800-OK-Cable". Giraldo also appeared on the IFC show, Z Rock, playing an angry record producer.

Giraldo said on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on July 7, 2005, that he had quit drinking alcohol. His series Friday Night Stand-Up with Greg Giraldo began on Comedy Central in late 2005 and ran until 2006. His CD Good Day to Cross a River was released in 2006 by Comedy Central Records. Greg was featured (along with Dane Cook and Sean Rouse) in Dave Attell's Insomniac Tour, released April 2006. This 98-minute film is thought by many of his fans to be one of his best performances—showing him on stage at work and also behind the scenes, with a glimpse of life on the road as a comedian.

Giraldo appeared in Comedy Central's annual roasts, roasting Chevy Chase, Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, Jeff Foxworthy,
Flavor Flav, Bob Saget, Joan Rivers, Larry the Cable Guy, and David Hasselhoff, as well as the TBS roast of Cheech & Chong. …

Giraldo was a regular on Comedy Central's television series Lewis Black's Root of All Evil and was one of the advocates lobbying for his side to be considered the "root of all evil." He won Black's decision in only two of his nine appearances but won the audience poll six times. Giraldo served as a judge during season seven of the NBC reality competition show Last Comic Standing.

In 2008, Giraldo appeared in venues across the United States as the headlining act of the Indecision '08 Tour, produced by Comedy Central. Midlife Vices, his only one-hour special for Comedy Central, was released in 2009. In June 2010, Giraldo performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee. That same month, he hosted The Nasty Show in Chicago, and in July, The Nasty Show in Montreal.

Personal life …
Giraldo was married twice. His first marriage was at the age of 23 and lasted for two years. He married his second wife, Maryann, a former Caroline's comedy club waitress, on January 23, 1999, and together they had three sons. Giraldo had the tattoo "Maryann 1-23-99" on his right biceps. Giraldo and Maryann separated in 2008 for a short time and had many reconciliations before his death. They were never divorced.

Giraldo also had a tribal design tattoo on his left forearm that contained the number 525. He was reluctant to discuss its meaning, but Jim Norton of Opie and Anthony later said that it represented his sobriety struggle; May 25 was the day he initially sobered up. Giraldo had been to rehab several times and stated that he had once been so intoxicated that he punched something and broke four bones in his hand while performing at Gotham Comedy Club.

Giraldo was candid about his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and the challenges of life on the road, often incorporating these themes into his act.

Death …
On Saturday, September 25, 2010, Giraldo overdosed on prescription medication. Earlier that afternoon, he had been scheduled to appear at a concert at the 3rd Annual New York Recovery Rally, introducing singer Courtney Love. The event, held on Randalls Island in New York City, was aimed "to celebrate the reality of recovery from addiction and offer hope to those who have yet to find recovery." The concert was held between noon and 3 p.m., but Giraldo never showed up. After he failed to appear for a scheduled performance at The Stress Factory that evening, police officers found him in his hotel room at the Hyatt Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and notified EMTs, who took him to nearby Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where he remained in a coma on life support. After being taken off life support, he died on September 29, 2010, at the age of 44. Giraldo was buried at Good Ground Cemetery in Hampton Bays, New York, with the inscription "Beloved Father / Always Loved / Forever Remembered".


Tributes …
On September 29, 2010, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jon Stewart honored Giraldo during the end-of-show "Your Moment of Zen" segment by playing a clip of his stand-up and renaming the segment for that night "Your Moment of Greg." Blues Traveler lead singer John Popper, who had worked with Giraldo on the TV show Z Rock, dedicated the song "The Mountains Win Again" to him, during the band's concert the evening of September 29. On September 30, 2010, multiple comedians and celebrities expressed their sorrow for Giraldo's death on Twitter, and Comedy Central posted a series of clips from Greg Giraldo past works titled "The Best of Greg Giraldo" on their website.

On October 9, 2010, Comedy Central aired a special titled Comics Anonymous, which had been filmed prior to Giraldo's death and featured several comedians who had been sober for 10 years or more. The show's executive producer, comedian Mike DeStefano, dedicated the special to Giraldo. On October 12, 2010, on the series premiere of Nick Swardson's Pretend Time, Swardson dedicated the episode to Giraldo.

On November 2, 2010, Comix comedy club in New York hosted the Jim Florentine roast, which Giraldo had originally been scheduled to perform at. Throughout the show, many of the comedians on the dais paid tribute to Giraldo, in roast-style fashion. Host Rich Vos joked: "I wasn’t the first choice to host. Greg Giraldo was asked, but he said he’d rather be dead than host this."

On February 9, 2011, a benefit titled "The Big Time Comedy Show" was held at NYC's Beacon Theatre for Giraldo's sons and for a fund started in his memory designed, in Maryann Giraldo's words, "to help children living within families of addiction... to be educated, encouraged and empowered, and given the tools they need to make different choices in their lives." The lineup included sets by Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Colin Quinn, Dave Attell, Jim Norton, Ted Alexandro, Nick DiPaolo, Jesse Joyce, and Eddie Brill, and the event was hosted by Tom Papa. Another benefit show was held in Los Angeles at the Wiltern Theater on June 29, 2011, and featured sets by Jeffrey Ross, Daniel Tosh, Marc Maron, Ralphie May, Brian Posehn, Bill Burr, Dave Attell, and Tom Papa; it was hosted by Jesse Joyce.

The Columbia University Alumni Association staged two benefit shows on March 28, 2011, at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC. The comedians who performed sets were Todd Barry, Amy Schumer, John Mulaney, Joe Mande, Morgan Murphy, Godfrey, Rachel Feinstein, Michael Ian Black, and Robert Kelly, and the shows were hosted by Gabe Liedman and Stress Factory owner Vinnie Brand.

Seth MacFarlane, Anthony Jeselnik, and Jeffrey Ross paid tribute to Giraldo during the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump in March 2011, and the roast was dedicated to him.

On March 18, 2011, Comedy Central aired Give It Up for Greg Giraldo, a two-hour television special honoring his memory in which multiple comedians, including Jon Stewart, Nick Swardson, Colin Quinn, Jeffrey Ross, Denis Leary, Sarah Silverman, Dave Attell, Tom Papa, Lewis Black, Bill Burr, Daniel Tosh, Chelsea Peretti, Conan O'Brien, Jesse Joyce and Whitney Cummings, talked about his life and career. It also contained short clips of his roasts and other acts. Coincidentally, Mike DeStefano, who was featured in the special and whose Comics Anonymous special had aired 11 days after Giraldo's death, died 12 days before Give It Up For Greg Giraldo aired, also at the age of 44.

In Greg Fitzsimmons's 2010 book Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox, Giraldo is one of several comedians to whom the book is dedicated. The 2012 book Bonnaroo: What, Which, This, That, The Other was also dedicated to Giraldo.

Social worker Joe Schrank, a friend of Giraldo's, has a tattoo that says "Best Wishes, God," which was what Giraldo would often write in hotel room Bibles.

A biography of Giraldo is expected to be published in the fall of 2018. It will feature interviews with family, friends, and colleagues.

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