Career Alternatives, Deaths

Greg Giraldo, Comedian and Former Lawyer, Dead at 44

The news has been all over the place over the past 20 hours, but it seems like a lot of people want to talk about the passing of Greg Giraldo. The comedian died yesterday. TMZ reported that he died of an apparent drug overdose.

What many people didn’t know was that before his comedy career, Giraldo graduated from Harvard Law School and was a lawyer at Skadden.

UPDATE: Lat here. Giraldo also graduated from my alma mater, Regis High School. I’ve heard from a number of fellow Regians who knew him at Regis and/or Columbia; they describe him as a great guy. (Speaking of Regis, I hope to see some of you at the Regis Bar Association reception next month, on October 19.)

Apparently this biographical information has surprised many people, to the point that we’ve received a number of emails asking us if it’s true. Is it that hard to believe that an HLS grad and Skadden associate decided to do something radically different with his life?

I knew about Giraldo’s past, even though he never really talked about it…

It’s not uncommon to take inspiration from people you’ve never met, especially when you are trying to change your life. Greg Giraldo was one of those guys for me. When you are sitting in an office at 1:00 a.m. trying to figure out how you’re going to tell your family that you’re going to leave upwards of $150,000 on the table, you’ll take inspiration from anywhere you can get it.

The Greg Giraldo “story” was something I brought up to my mother when I told her I was quitting. Here’s the thing, have you ever actually seen a Greg Giraldo bit? He’s not exactly the kind of dude you want to bring home to your mother. At the time I quit, he was still doing an amazingly crappy Comedy Central show with Colin Quinn. My sister pulled up an episode, and let’s just say my mother was less than impressed. I backtracked off of my “HLS grad turned good” position quicker than you can say “Democratic Senator.”

But even that turned out to be a positive for me. Especially since I started writing for Above the Law two years ago. By this point Giraldo was best known for his work on various Comedy Central roasts (though I actually liked him on Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil). Every time he came on, I’d watch him, I’d chuckle a bit, and I’d think, “Man, how many people have devoted considerable effort towards telling him that he sucks? Especially since he kind of sucks.” It helped to think about how awful his Comedy Central show was, and then think about how I would kill babies for a crappy Comedy Central show. In my mother’s world, reaching Greg Giraldo level is a pathetic waste of talent and time. From where I sit, it looks like an amazing success.

I hope he felt successful. I have no idea whom he judged himself against, but on the scale of former lawyers who gave up that life to do something creative, he was pretty damn impressive.

Comedian Greg Giraldo Is Dead [TMZ]

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