A sad—and too-soon—end to what was a notable comedy career.
Mike DeStefano, who mined material from his life as a former heroin junkie to become a finalist on last season's Last Comic Standing, has died, his rep confirmed.
According to his MySpace page, he was only 44.
"Mike had a lot of wisdom to share with the world from his own life lessons and he always did it with laughter and a smile," his publicist said in a statement, describing DeStefano as a "true gentleman, a great comic and a "fierce warrior."
Per Punchline Magazine, DeStefano suffered a massive heart attack late Sunday—a day before he was due to perform his gritty new one-man show, A Cherry Tree in the Bronx, at the Bananas Comedy Club in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. DeStafano was also scheduled to perform his act Wednesday at the Barrow Street Theater in New York City.
Born and raised in the Bronx, DeStefano gained a cult following for his frank and biting autobiographical humor, from his early years battling substance abuse and serving as a drug counselor to his wife's HIV diagnosis and ultimate death.
He was a regular on the Big Apple comedy circuit and appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Comedy Central's Live at Gotham and was a featured comic at HBO's Aspen Comedy Festival and Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal before nearly going the distance on NBC's hit reality series.