Parks and Recreation co-executive producer Harris Wittels was found dead at noon today in his L.A. home, Vulture has confirmed. A spokesperson from the Los Angeles Police Department said Wittels's assistant discovered him, and added that the cause of death could have stemmed from a drug overdose. Wittels, 30, had been involved with Parks in various roles since 2009 and also worked on such shows as Eastbound & Down, Secret Girlfriend, and The Sarah Silverman Program.
The multihyphenate was a comedian in his own right, appearing from time to time on IFC's "Comedy Bang Bang" podcast:
He also performed in the self-described "piano-weird-pop" trio Don't Stop or We'll Die, which had a UCB performance scheduled for later this month:
Many will also recognize Wittels for bringing the term humblebrag into the pop-culture lexicon, creating a Twitter account for instances of false modesty, in 2010, and then a book, in 2012. Inside and outside his comedy, Wittels discussed drug use publicly; he was also reportedly in rehab recently. The LAPD said the county coroner's office will investigate further to see if Wittels's death was in fact linked to a drug overdose.
Shortly after TMZ first reported Wittels's death, celebrities and colleagues began penning remembrances via social media:
Such heartbreaking news about Harris Wittels. A really funny guy.— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) February 20, 2015
Don't know what to say. Harris Wittels was a fantastic writer I had the pleasure to work with at Parks and Rec. So so sad. RIP Harris.— billy eichner (@billyeichner) February 20, 2015
Harris Wittels rip. He was a beloved son of the comedy world— matt walsh (@mrmattwalsh) February 20, 2015
He was my baby. I just keep thinking of superman flying backwards around the earth. I wish I could do that. I'm so mad at you Harris— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) February 20, 2015
You should know that Harris was brilliant beyond compare. That his imagination was without limit. That he loved comedy more than anything.— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) February 20, 2015
That his heart was big and he FELT hard. That he was someone who would reach out to tell you he was thinking of you for no particular reason— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) February 20, 2015
That he was honest even if it was gonna piss u off or make him look shitty. He told the truth. Even when it was ugly. Even when he lied.— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) February 20, 2015
He was Emily's favorite stand up to watch. She got so excited whenever she booked him for meltdown. He did it last night.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) February 20, 2015
I mean, look at his tweets. One of them made me laugh even right now. This pic is from LAST NIGHT. Fuck. https://t.co/977ITsDwLx— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) February 20, 2015
RIP and thank you, Harris Wittels.— Comedy Central (@ComedyCentral) February 20, 2015
Parks star Amy Poehler honored her compatriot at a Variety event tonight, saying: "Today, I lost a friend. ... I lost a dear, young friend in my life who was struggling with addiction." Poehler was being fêted for her global work with underprivileged children. "I'm sharing it with you because life and death live so close together, and we walk that fine line every day. ... I don't really feel like telling any jokes. I'm kind of sad, and it's really great to be here tonight and listen to all of you, and listen to the great work that you do and be reminded why we live in this bizarre planet called 'Hollywood.' ... It's very strange."
Parks, which Wittels also appeared in as a Phish-loving animal-control employee, airs its series finale next Tuesday.