RIP: PARKS & RECREATION Writer-Producer Harris Wittels

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the old pros we sometimes have to say good-bye to. Our friend Harris was only 30. Damn….

by Aziz Ansari

There are so few people that you meet in life that give you that feeling that you’ve found a real unique, original person. Harris Wittels was one of those and we lost him yesterday. He was 30 years old. I’ve been devastated.

I’m still waiting for the other phone call to let me know that Harris is okay and this was all a horrible misunderstanding. I don’t know when my brain is going to be able to process the terrible feeling that fills my heart with dread and my eyes with tears every 20 seconds when I realize this very special person is really gone.

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So, I wanted to write something to share my stories about Harris and what he meant to me.

I first knew Harris as a standup. I’d have him open shows quite a bit, and he was always fantastic. As his career as a writer took off, he got busy. He’d say that he didn’t have time or wasn’t working on standup at the time. Sadly, he had just started back working his standup, which made me thrilled as a fan. His standup, like he his real life personality, was open, honest (way more honest than how most people refer to “honest” in their standup) and hilarious.

As a writer, we worked on two films that never saw the light of day. The first was Olympic Sized Asshole. The premise was Danny McBride and I were two best friends who lived in SC who’s girlfriends had a three way with a super handsome star Olympic athlete (think Channing Tatum). We did a rough outline of it together and then Harris went off to write the script.

Around this time in my career, I was very puzzled by film scripts. None of the ones I read ever made me laugh. I figured that I must not know how to read scripts properly. Maybe these things were funnier in person than on the page.

Then I got Harris’ first draft of Olympic.

Every page had a huge laugh. I couldn’t believe it. Jody Hill and I called each other and were just rolling about our favorite jokes.

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