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Sunday, April 18, 2021

One Year Gone. One Year of Far Fewer Laughs.

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Mike Matthews
Mike Matthews
Mike Matthews is a fifth-grade teacher from Wilmington, Del. You can “friend” him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/downwithabsolutes

Dear Jay Rock:

You know me. Always waiting until the last minute to get something important done. Like that time I called you at 3pm on a Friday afternoon to let you know that, yes, I would be at the comedy club in just a few short hours to be your “door wh**e” and collect the money your rabid fans would be paying to see you perform on stage.

Or that time that I really needed a guest on my often-trainwreck of a radio show on Delaware Talk Radio. “Hey, Jay Rock…it’s Mike. I need a guest on my show today. Wanna go down to the studio with me and have some laughs? Pick me up in 10 minutes.”

Or that time you were filming a pilot of an idea for a television show that E! was considering purchasing back in 2006. You acknowledged me as the culinary god that I thought I was and asked me to cater the event. “Yo, Mike…you get those sandwiches made for the pilot tonight?” “Ummm…what pilot, Jay Rock?” “Mike…we’ve got people to feed! Make those sandwiches!”

So, Jay Rock, it will come as no surprise to you that it took me until the night before publishing to finally sit down and write this letter to you. It’s been one year since something cruel happened to you and you were yanked from this world far too soon. Terminal lung cancer was the diagnosis. We were devastated. Everyone whose life you touched was devastated. Why does it seem the greatest tragedies often come to those who provide such comedy? It ain’t right.

You were not always the easiest guy to get along with. You were difficult. Many artists are. Whether it was you getting upset at a minor technical error on your TV show “The Hott Spott” or if the sound wasn’t JUST RIGHT at a comedy show, you would certainly let people know, no matter how obscene you got!

Those who aren’t close to comedians would be surprised to find out that most of you are quite quiet, thoughtful, reserved, and private. While you put on one heluva show on stage, that was not the Jay Rock that I came to respect in the five years we were good friends.

I will remember you as the man who sat down with me over wings and had in-depth conversations with me on any host of socio-political issues. I was shocked because my own ignorance allowed me to believe that because you would perform on stage and tell penis and fart jokes that you couldn’t possibly have anything to say about such topics as crime in Wilmington or the war in Iraq. So passionate and nuanced your thoughts were.

While you certainly had moments of seriousness, the comedy always remained in the subtext. If the conversation got a little too heavy, then comedy often acted as your defense to not let people get too close to you.

I know I wasn’t there for you as much as I should have been toward the end, Jay Rock. I’m hoping that those quarts of “red” Rita’s Water Ice that we brought helped dull both the physical and mental anguish we knew you were suffering. And even though you were so incredibly frail in those final weeks, I want you to know I will never forget the note you scrawled in a notebook when I attempted to tell a really corny, stupid joke: “You are simple, Mike!”

You were an unpredictable character, Jay Rock. But you were always predictable in your ability to make everyone you met smile. That predictability carried right through until the day you passed. Even in your final days, you were putting smiles on our faces and made some of us double-over from laughter.

On this one-year anniversary of your death, Jay Rock, I’m hoping your spirit is somewhere with a glass of Jameson’s in one hand and a forkful of medium-rare-cooked ribeye in the other. And I hope you’re laughing. And smiling. And smiling. And laughing. I won’t forget you. And neither will anyone else whose life you touched indefinitely.

Especially sabre-toothed skanks.

Much love, buddy.

Mike

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