R.I.P. Sean Rouse (1975-2018)

Sean Rouse, a darkly funny comedian favored by the likes of Doug Stanhope, Jim Norton and Dave Attell, has died. Rouse suffered a stroke followed by a heart attack, and did not recover. Rouse was only 43.


Rouse grew up in Katy, Texas, just west of Houston, and was one of several locals who benefited from stage time early and often at the old Laff Stop comedy club.

At 24, he made the finals of Houston’s Funniest Person contest in 1999.

Even then he was two kinds of sick. Onstage, his humor bathed in the darkness and the profane. Offstage, his physical health already was insufficient from rheumatoid arthritis.

As the Houston Press wrote about him in 1999: “There is soreness all over. Shoulders and knees are real tight. The ankles just plain hurt. Overall mobility is minimal. Sean doesn’t really joke about this on stage, but nonetheless it encompasses his life. Some days, Sean is able to rise and hop in the shower. Other days, he must take a few minutes after sitting up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. Wait out the aches.”

One sickness perhaps fed the other. Rouse persisted for nearly two more decades.

He caught a big break in 2005 when Dave Attell included the still-unknown Rouse on his Insomniac tour and documentary alongside Greg Giraldo and Dane Cook.

A few years later, Jim Norton included Rouse on his HBO stand-up showcase series, Down and Dirty with Jim Norton.

And a few years after that, Doug Stanhope had Rouse join him and a few others for another tour and documentary, called The Unbookables. Why so unbookable?

Well, there’s this, for example.

“I was raised Catholic, but I was molested Baptist.”


As Rouse joked in a bit on The Unbookables: “That’s no way for a boy whore to die.”


Rest in peace, Sean Rouse. At least now you can have peace.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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4 thoughts on “R.I.P. Sean Rouse (1975-2018)

  1. I worked with Sean in the 1990’s. We never were really “lets hang out” after work friends but we often spoke and enjoyed our time together. I had followed his career somewhat and would watch him on the You Tube. That is how I found out about his passing last year.

    I will miss him and I give my thoughts to his family.

  2. I performed with Sean a few times and I completely understand why Kristine Levine got the Rouse Rule going. He loved his alcohol and many times his show suffered. During one performance he was so drunk that he called me on stage to perform while he went to the bathroom. I felt like he needed to continue his set so I followed him to the men’s room. There he was~taking a leak, I handed him the mic and made him continue his act. I really liked Sean. He was nice and approachable. I’m sorry to hear of his passing. No more problems now, buddy.

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