Friday, January 16, 2015


So I hate to post two sad/angry posts in a row, but here goes.

Last week, I got a call from Matt Young at 11 PM to let me know that Jason Chin died. It didn't register emotionally. I laid in bed thinking about it. Thinking about death. I didn't know how he died at the time, so I started thinking about the most likely things that could've taken his life. I briefly entertained the possibility that he hadn't died and this was all an elaborate bit, because like most of the people I know, Jason was a comedian. It's weird to me that I can't have a friend die without thinking that the whole thing might be some kind of joke.

In the morning the emotions hit me as I read the comments on Jason's Facebook page and started writing some of my own. I cried into my coffee cup. I got to work and cried some more. Friday night I went to iO Chicago where Jason was a teacher, performer, coach, one-time-training-center-director, and a nearly literal part of the walls to toast my friend and mentor with his other friends and mentees. It was wonderful, but I have to tell you I've never been in a room with so many funny, overly verbose, wickedly intelligent people who were at a nearly complete loss for words before and I may never be in a room like that again.

Saturday I sat in with Whirled News Tonight, as I have from time to time for 10 years. That was Jason's show. He produced many shows in his life, but that one was his baby. It was a great show. Jason's mom was there.

Sunday was the opening night of Improvised Star Trek's latest live run. Before I got the news about Jason, this was kind of the all-consuming beast of my mind. I was stressed out about it. Really, really stressed out. Then Jason died and it suddenly didn't seem very important. But the show went great. I stepped off the stage and thought that even though Jason wasn't involved, he would've been proud. Well... if he could get over the fact that somebody ELSE produced a successful nerdy improv show. Jason was a great guy, but he was kind of petty and jealous about stuff like that. I loved him for it.

They did a roast/memorial Monday night and I didn't go. I was exhausted. Physically I was exhausted. I fell asleep on my couch around 9:15. I was emotionally exhausted. I genuinely didn't think I could take it. I thought I would breakdown if I went. They broadcast it online. I didn't watch for a few days. The whole thing was magnificent.

I've felt a lot of things in the last 8 days.

-I felt a cold, intellectual fascination with grief. It was genuinely fascinating to me to see the different ways that people reacted to grief and suddenly being faced with their own mortality. I actually got mad at myself for reacting like this. Feel something, you damned robot.

-I got mad that I'd never tell Jason all of the things I was mad at him about. There were some fights I still wanted to have with him. Now I never will. That's weird right? Getting mad about never getting a chance to express anger?

-Grief. Sadness. A dull, hollow emptiness inside. Loss. The last time I saw Jason was two days before he died. He was walking down the street and I was on the other side of the street. I was in a rush so I didn't wave or say hi or acknowledge that I've seen him. I wish I had. Jason and I had been emailing back and forth about "Dragon Age: Inquisition," a video game we were both playing. Jason had just beaten the game and was going to start a new playthrough. He told me he was going to play as a necromancer. That was the last thing he said to me.

-Anger at how he died. Jason died of hypertension. Which is completely preventable. I just... If in the coming days, I say something to you like "You should really stop eating so much crap, or you might drop dead unexpectedly in the night," this will be why.

-Sadness for iO. Recently my beloved iO Theater moved into a gorgeous new building. It's beautiful but it's not... it's not the house I grew up in. And now Jason won't be there. There's so little I recognize there now. iO was my second home and Jason was a big part of that feeling and now... so much of that is just gone.

-Determination to do better, for Jason. I could be a better performer. I could be a better mentor. I could be a better producer. I could be a better friend. I could be a better nerd. I want to do all of that so that some small part of the good things that Jason did for me can carry on to other people. I'd like to be to other people what Jason was to me.

So that's what I've felt, and what I'm feeling.

If you're wondering who Jason Chin was, this was his roast. It will tell you a lot more about him than any obituary you'll read:

If you're wondering who he was to me, here's a story:

Jason was my level 5 coach at iO's improv training center. Level 5 was, at the time, where you learned improv forms besides the Harold. We were learning Armando where you use personal monologues to inform scenes. I was doing a monologue about how growing up, every kid loved the X-Men, but how much it used to piss me off that everyone loved Wolverine because he was so fucking boring, and Cyclops was actually the best X-Man. Jason just cackled the whole time.

Jason was a kindred spirit for me. He believed in me.

I miss you, Jason. I hope that they have "Dragon Age: Inquisition" wherever you are now.

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