RIP Mike Destefano
I’m usually very much against this sort of thing, but the outpouring of love and support for Mike all over the internet has inspired me to express my own gratitude for the relationship I had with him.
I have had the pleasure of being/feeling like a small part of the Destefano family since I was 10 years old. It wasn’t until I was 21 or so that I met Mikey D. I was just beginning to hit open mics and perform at bringer shows, completely convinced that they would make me an immediate star. That was when my girlfriend’s family invited me to see their cousin headline Caroline’s on Broadway. I figured since I never heard of him there was no way he was that good, but I agreed to go anyway. I clearly had no clue what I was talking about.
That night at Caroline’s remains the ultimate “A-HA” moment in my comedy life. It not only changed my idea of stand up comedy, but like his performances did to so many others, it changed my approach to life. Mike was captivating. From the moment he stepped on stage I couldn’t look away. Nobody could. Everything else in the room became secondary. The same can be said about a lot of comedians, but the fact that he was doing it while discussing topics that were making people physically shift in their seats was amazing to me. I knew at that moment that I wanted to do exactly what he did. After the show he told me to reach out to him anytime I wanted help, which I thanked him for but silently thought “zero chance, this dude scares the shit out of me.”
Over the years we began running into each other at various shows, which lead us to become more and more friendly. He started asking me to meet him out at different clubs to discuss comedy, which still blows my mind to this day. There I was, some green open miker and he was treating me as if I was a peer. I’ll never forget the night he gave me his phone number. I barely entered it in my phone correctly, because I was shaking with so much excitement. I was always nervous about overstepping my bounds in the relationship, because I thought that he was only being nice to me because of my involvement with the family. Why else would he give me the time of day? But I was proven wrong time and time again. Mike went completely above and beyond any expectations I could have ever had for a mentor. Late night advice, referrals to bookers; he was like a big brother (because if I called him dad he would’ve kicked my ass.)
I’m going to miss Mike a whole lot, but I’ve never felt more inspired to live and compelled to do things the right way by anyone in my entire life. I hope that I can go through life with half the insight, wisdom and love that he did. Anytime that I feel disheartened, I remember my favorite thing he ever said to me. “Anytime anyone ever tells you no, you should thank them for making you work harder.”