The Legacy of Parks and Recreation writer and executive producer Harris Wittels, who died from a reported drug overdose in 2015 at the age of 30, lives on thanks to his sister Stephanie Wittels-Wachs. She honors her late brother this Thursday at the inaugural Harris Phest on what would have been the comedian's 33rd birthday.
Harris Phest, a nod to Wittels' favorite band Phish, will be at 8th Wonder Brewery, which was founded by three of his childhood friends. The festival features Phish cover band A Live One and Houston-based smoke shop EaDo Glass & Smoke, who will be doing live glass-blowing demonstrations. During the festival, 8th Wonder will serve a special Humblebraggot beer in honor of the term "humblebrag" that Wittels coined. The event will also include stand-up comedy, clips from Park and Rec episodes he wrote and a reading of his most memorable tweets.
Wittels, who was also a staff writer for The Sarah Silverman Program and Eastbound & Down, grew up in Houston, which his sister still calls home. In 2016, she co-founded the downtown mixed-use performance space Rec Room, which is also a sponsor of Harris Phest.
On the first anniversary of his death, Wittels-Wachs wrote a heartbreaking tribute to her brother. “I don’t mind feeling the feelings. I welcome them, in fact. I just don’t know what else to say about them. I don’t know how to talk about them anymore. My brother is gone. He’s never coming back. And, it sucks. And, it hurts. And, it will always hurt. And, that’s just the way it is.” She concludes the piece for medium.com by writing, "In your death, you are light."
Many entertainers who worked with Wittels also expressed their grief for the beloved comedian gone too soon.
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
Such heartbreaking news about Harris Wittels. A really funny guy.— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) February 20, 2015
Goddammit. Addiction takes another. Goodbye Harris Wittels, you were so funny and so sweet. It's a pleasure to have known you. #ParksandRec— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) February 20, 2015
Harris Wittels — funny, talented, and gone too soon. He will be dearly missed. xo pic.twitter.com/Crux0Q13Wb— AmyPoehlerSmartGirls (@smrtgrls) February 20, 2015
Join family, friends and fans of Wittels this Thursday to honor his comedic legacy. The event is free and proceeds benefit the Harris Wittels Fund, which provides scholarships to his alma mater, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Free. 6–10 p.m. 8th Wonder Brewery, 2202 Dallas St. facebook.com/harrisphest