Rest In Paradise, Gus Lynch

The first time I met Gus Lynch, in 2009?, he looked like an over-sized leprechan. I may have been influenced by the fact that he approached me in front of Kieran’s Irish Pub.  He also had a big red beard at the time. And I think he was carrying a pot of gold.

Me and Gus at the Akumal Comedy Festival, 2013

Me and Gus at the Akumal Comedy Festival, 2013

ANYWAY, he asked me about the Rockstar Storyteller open mic we had started a couple months earlier and had just finished for the evening. I don’t remember our exact conversation, but I remember being excited about meeting this new performer who made me feel like I was a part of something great with his warm inquisitiveness about how to become involved.

Gus doing stand-up comedy at Siberia in New Orleans. Gus was a great stand-up comic and actor, as well as a husband and father.

Gus doing stand-up comedy at Siberia in New Orleans. Gus was a great stand-up comic and actor, as well as a husband and father.

We learned that Gus died yesterday. I say “died” and not “passed away,” because I had the pleasure of getting to eventually call Gus Lynch my friend, and I know he would probably just prefer I tell it straight.

He fell off a pyramid in Mexico while vacationing with his family. He broke several bones, punctured a lung, and did not make it through surgery. *EDIT: he did make it through surgery, but died of a cardiac arrest the next day.

Gus Lynch was a huge force. I am not unfamiliar with what that’s like, though I don’t think Gus and I share similar brain chemistries, or if we did, he hid it way better. But Gus was large, physically and meta-physically, and he was loud and he was misunderstood, I think, by me. But he fell off a pyramid. I feel like, for what I know of Gus, that was the way that would sell the most tickets to the great playwright in the sky’s blockbuster movie about Gus Lynch, hilarious, gruff, lovable and tough action star.  He fell off a fucking pyramid. In Mexico.

At this year's 10000 Laughs Festival, at Bedlam Lowertown. Taken right after Gus gave me a rightfully hard time about taking pictures of the shows and not cutting out the empty tables.

At this year’s 10000 Laughs Festival, at Bedlam Lowertown. Taken right after Gus gave me a rightfully hard time about taking pictures of the shows and not cutting out the empty tables.

Gus, there were moments I was scared of you. You were instant business the moment you felt like you weren’t being respected or taken seriously, and due to my past experiences with loud, brash men, you automatically had a one-up on my power, and I was a little fearful of you.  But you always, always respected my boundaries.  (I should make it clear in case this sounds weird: Gus and I were friends, collaborators, and contemporaries. That’s it.)  And you were such a champion of my work. Thank you for believing in me over and over again.

In the days we didn’t know were Gus’ last, he and I had a very short back-and-forth on the ole Facebook. It doesn’t really matter what it was about, but it was a personal turning point for me, oddly enough, in what I felt was standing up for myself and picking battles.  And I felt like it was enough for me to send him a message telling him no matter what our differing opinions, I still love him.  The message was also thanking him for getting me on The Hell Yes Festival in New Orleans… something I had neglected to do till that moment.

I never heard back from him, so he may have died annoyed with me.  But I know it would have been a temporary thing; I am a fiery lady and he’s a fiery dude and I know that he liked, respected, and appreciated that about me, or was learning to, as I was learning to about him.

In New Orleans, with Brittany O. and Adam Quesnell

In New Orleans, with Brittany O. and Adam Quesnell

BUT, a couple weeks before, one of the last times I saw him, we sat next to each other at a Hell Yes show at Siberia in New Orleans, and I don’t even know what we talked about, but I remember having that lovely heart-to-heart friendship connection spark with him, an earnest moment where I didn’t feel the need to have my guard up, which I do around intimidating men, and he was a big ole teddy bear. I am super grateful for experiencing that moment with Gus. We’ve had a lot of really fun times, most especially in Akumal, Mexico for the Akumal Comedy Festival, and Gus has been a champion of mine for years, since the START of the Dirty Curls he’s been a fan, no matter what (even through the 2010 Rape Joke Thing!). Gus has taken care of me comedically and socially and probably even bought me a drink or two.  Ha! That reminds me of the time he asked if I had my Akumal coin (I’ll tell you later), and I didn’t.  An hour later, he whips his out with 3 other comics at the bar, and I had to pay for the round. Sonofabitch.

UPDATE: you can read the story about the Akumal coin here in The Growler’s article about Gus.

Court, Jen, Gus, and Quinn at Akumal, 2013

Court, Jen, Gus, and Quinn at Akumal, 2013

I thought I knew Gus until that moment in New Orleans a few weeks ago. It just felt like a moment of vulnerability that I had never seen in him. We were both drunk or inebriated in some fashion, of course, but you know what inebriates do.  You can’t drive, but you can see much better, at least during part. I really regret not getting to know Gus better, I feel like he would have been one of the people to really push me through this tissue I refuse to break (I’m experiencing a lot of creative resistance right now, ugh, boring).  But perhaps this is what it took. The imagining of the future of our friendship due to his death, because as scary as Gus was to me, and I feel like, based on the testimonies of our mutual friends I love and trust, Gus would have been a little hurt to know that he freaked me out a bit.  But I think he would have put his arm around my shoulder and said something like, “Boy Named Sue,” a cryptic way of telling me that he did it for my own good.

Oh, Gus. You are in the hammock on the beach in the sky, my brother. Party on.

Gus in party form.

Gus in party form. This is a photo of a photo by Scott Brown.

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