How I Saw Michael McKean Die on Stage

The Comedy Store is rumored to be haunted. So we went ghost hunting with the pros. (Published Saturday, June 20, 2015)

It was a cloudy Saturday night in June, and I was about to see two comedians I’ve known for more than 20 years. But for some reason that I still can’t explain, my body seized up.

In the moments after I stepped onto that second set of stairs, I saw my friend, a funny man named Michael McKean, in front of me. He took the last stairs, and then I knew I was about to witness something unbelievable.

Michael had just performed his set, and from the first beat of the first joke, I could see something move in front of me. It was definitely not a joke — it was definitely not a prop — and I can’t explain what happened next.

In fact, I don’t know if I’d ever seen a comic die on stage. But like so many comedy fans, I was captivated as I watched Michael McKean disappear and turn into this creature that I just knew had to be an old friend.

“It’s happening,” I said to myself, “I know this is going to happen.”

From the first note, we knew something was wrong — something was definitely wrong. And then, just as Michael started to fade, I realized something was different. Michael was completely gone. I could hear his voice and I could see him in one of the many rooms with our audience. His voice was so calm and even as Michael faded into darkness, as if he’d just walked into a warm bath and then turned the water off, he was so calm like that.

Then I got the idea of what to do — my mind was racing, my heart was beating and I didn’t want to see this guy die. I’ve seen death on many stages — you know, when a comic gets hit by a bus — and I was ready to see that. So I did something I felt completely out of my element.

I grabbed the nearest audience member, who was so far away from the stage that it was difficult to even see if she was there at all, and I grabbed the camera of a guy who’d come for us to capture the show, and I got to Michael in a way no one

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