David “Deacon” Gray, the stand-up comedian who also nurtured a generation of Denver-area comedians as the new talent coordinator at Comedy Works since 2004, died over the weekend. He had cancer.
Gray grew up in Oklahoma City, graduated high school in 1983 and started comedy on March 5, 1986, according to his Facebook page. He wrote there for his occupation: “I open for the biggest names in the business each week at Comedy Works in Denver, but I also do select road work and corporate gigs.”
Gray won the first stand-up competition at Nebraska’s Great American Comedy Festival in 2007, and often returned to the summer festival in Johnny Carson’s hometown. “Deacon was a tremendous human being — always interested in others, always with a smile on his face. The fact that he was an extremely funny comedian was icing on the cake,” said Kent Warneke, the founder of the festival and past chairman, told the Norfolk Daily News.
Comedy Works owner Wende Curtis noted that friends were with Deacon when he died on Saturday in his apartment so that he wouldn’t pass alone. Curtis wrote: “He was gracious and funny and smart in his last weeks and days. And he was at peace. He felt the love that you all showed him and he was so filled with that love. I am so proud of this comedy community. You have shown up to be who you are. Amazing and loving individuals who know the meaning of community.”
From Justine Marino, a Denver comic now in LA co-hosting the upcoming Funny Dance Show for E!: “Denver lost a good one today. David I will miss doing shows with you especially the ones where you would be crushing the A1 spot so hard when I was headlining I wondered if I could even follow you. I hope there are lots of root beer flavored marshmallows up in heaven for you buddy.”
And from Ben Roy, part of Denver’s Grawlix team who star in their own truTV series, Those Who Can’t: “Thinking of all my Mile High comedy family today. Definitely sad to hear of David Gray’s passing. Denver’s thriving comedy scene will always owe a huge debt of gratitude to him and his unwavering support and guidance of it. He and I definitely had our ups and downs, but I always admired his work ethic as a comic and as a mentor to the insanely talented generation of folks flowing through the Comedy Works these days. Keep writing and keep crushing, all. It’s most certainly what he would want.”
Rest in Peace, Deacon.