I was shocked when I heard Greg Giraldo passed away on September 29 from an “accidental overdose” of prescription medication. I had just seen this guy give a hilarious set at Bonnaroo in June. He sure looked like he’d had his fair share of life-threatening habits–which his jokes confirmed–but Giraldo spoke with a maturity that said those days were behind him. I’m inclined to believe the reports that say this is an unfortunate accident and not an escape from an unfulfilling life.
This death marks more than the mere loss of an entertainer. I like to think of Giraldo, and other comedians like him, as folk philosophers with greater popular pathos appeal than philosophers strictly. Philosophers and comedians are both first and foremost observers–the difference comes in the delivery. Comedians tend to dispense wisdom in a relatable fashion, at the expense of the thoroughness preferred by philosophers. This is not to say that there is no humor to be found in philosophy. Plato and Socrates surely exchanged a few knee slappers, but the ubiquity of audiovisial media has rendered the great books impotent in their mass appeal. Giraldo took his profession as a duty to make people think by delivering seriously funny commentary on serious issues (and Pam Anderson). Please honor honor him by watching his clips.