Dan Ronan died on Friday, and I’ve been crying a lot since I found out. I’m crying right now. I loved Dan dearly. It’s really difficult to think of a friend’s life having an end point. I’m never going to hear his voice again even though it’s been playing in my mind for the last day. I’m never going to hear a new story or a joke from Dan. We’re never going to stay up late and talk about music, or people we hate or jokes we love or scary movies or anything. Someone’s death, especially at a young age, puts a really shitty period on what was supposed to be a really funny long run-on sentence. It also means no one new gets to meet Dan, which is a real shame. He probably would have liked you. Or maybe hated your guts, how would I know?
I just needed to write this because Dan was a comedian, and a really good one. The shitty thing about comedy is that it’s hard to do. I guess that’s what makes it special too. But it’s a hard long road that doesn’t really have an ultimate goal. Dan was really just getting started on this road, but no one really writes about people that weren’t famous or on TV or something except their friends. He deserves to have a full story told. So, here’s that.
I can hear my wife watching Frasier in the other room right now as I type this. That’s her way of coping. Which is actually really sweet. Dan briefly moved out to LA right around the time I did, as well as some other friends. The goal was to all work together on comedy out here. Shortly after moving Dan relapsed into drug use. He was very open about things like that on stage, and made fun of it. It was a part of him that unfortunately couldn’t be separated from his story. He wanted to hide it from his friends when he was here in California though. He didn’t tell me when he was using again. In fact he lied about it. It was pretty clear there was a problem though. Right before he moved back to Chicago, we spent a day walking around the city, he knew that I knew and we talked about his struggles. We just sat on bus benches and smoked a pack of cigarettes. Then we got another and smoked that one too. I brought him back to my place to be with my wife and me that night. I cooked some fried chicken and we watched Frasier for hours. He loved it. So do my wife and I. It’s oddly really nice comedy comfort food.
The next day, I drove Dan to meet with a friend who was going to put him up for a while and shortly after he moved back to Chicago to be closer to his family. I never saw him again. We talked here and there. We both are huge horror movie fans and we pitched ideas back and forth about writing one together. It was going to be pretty cool. We talked about music. He was getting into Roxy Music, he loved anything Eno did (we often talked about our love for this song and it’s ability to bring us serenity). I told him about this weird strip club in Vegas I went to where all the dancers were in their 50s and just wanted to chit chat and drink a Coors with you. I’d ask if he was staying healthy knowing full well I couldn’t be certain if he was telling the truth. I wanted to be there with him. I wanted to sit on a couch with him and watch Scream 2 or something stupid.
I’m really only saying this stuff because if you knew Dan, you loved him and I’m sure you’d want to hear anything about him, and if you didn’t know him, you deserve to have a full picture of who he was and what he meant to people. I hate when people die and then there’s just the one photograph of them in black and white looking really handsome with dates on it. It’s too nice. It’s not real and it doesn’t sufficiently express who the person is. Someone who didn’t know that person would take one look at it and go, “Cool dates, dipshit.” At least I’m saying that in my head in Dan’s voice right now and it’s making me smile.
Dan created some of my favorite comedy I’ve ever witnessed. He was truly inspired and I’m really lucky that I got to work with him. His mind worked in a really weird way, something I’m not sure I can relate to, but he was compulsive about comedy. He would be doing 24 hours a day if that were possible. When he wasn’t doing it, he didn’t know what to do with himself. So he clearly created a lot, and honed and perfected things. A discipline I was always jealous of. We talked about that too, he always wanted to know how certain sets went, what I was working on, what jokes worked. He needed comedy, even if it wasn’t his. He stressed more over my sets than I did.
Remembering moments with Dan is really making me laugh. It’s really hard to process something like that. I just don’t want Dan to be dead. Dan was sweet, he was funny, he was a friend. I still can’t imagine him not being there. I want to hear his voice again.
I encourage everyone to go look up anything Dan has made, find videos, read things he wrote. I don’t think comedy comes through on tape very often, but this is maybe my favorite piece of comedy I’ve witnessed happen live, and the fact that it still makes me laugh when it’s a tiny rectangle on a website says something about how amazing of a performer Dan was.
I know it’s silly to address Dan like this, but just in case my website is somehow a portal to the afterlife: I miss you and I love you, Dan Ronan.
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