Comedians Pay Respects to William Stephenson

Comedian William Stephenson passed away this week, and comedians all over the world, and particularly in New York City paid respects and condolences to the comedian who was not only a fixture at New York’s infamous Comedy Cellar and other New York Clubs, but he also had roles in film and on television. You may have seen him on the Daily Show or episodes of Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, Pootie Tang and The Big Sick. He was in several docs including the not yet released Rick Crom documentary, Comedian and I Am Comic.

On The Cellar’s Instagram, comics and fans expressed sadness, remembering him as incredibly sweet, sometimes grouchy, but most of all someone who made everyone laugh. Some of the comics and friends expressing condolences on social media today included Dave Attell, Roy Wood Jr., Nathan Macintosh, Zainab Johnson, Rich Vos, Liz Miele, Sherrod Small, Mike Bocchetti, Veronica Mosey, Jim Gaffigan, Nikki Glaser, Ardie Fuqua, Neal Brennan, Gary Vider, Dennis Regan, Subhah Agarwal, Harrison Greenbaum, Matteo Lane, John Mayer, Eddie Ifft, Ben Hague, Leonard Ouzts, Ted Alexandro, Donnell Rawlings, Monroe Martin, Judy Gold, Sean Donnelly, Amy Schumer, Wil Sylvince, Sarah Silverman, Marina Franklin, John Mulaney, Chris Rock, Jared Fried, Mike Royce, Questlove, Pete Lee, Liza Treyger, Jay Pharoah, Mike Lawrence, Hasan Minhaj, Carmen Lynch, Chris Distefano, Laurie Kilmartin, Christian Finnegan, Ronny Chieng, Mike Vecchione, Sam Morril, Marc Theobald, Nore Davis, Vinnie Brand, Greg Fitzsimmons, Felonious Monk, Greg Stone, Dan LaMorte, John Fugelsang, and others.

Sarah Silverman who was friends with William for 28 years remembered “Poker at Eddie’s on Monday’s and the Cellar the rest. He was a classic curmudgeon and making him laugh was the greatest feeling in zee whole world. and I keep not dealing because I’m so sick of comics dying and it never seems real and I keep remembering and going to call him and then realizing you can’t do that when someone is no longer here. (Though sometimes I still do)
I love you, William, you funkadelic Detroiter.”

Marina Franklin remembered how Stephenson as a true funk master who knew soul music history and could make you laugh. Ian Fidance wrote “man we lost a major dude today. William Stephenson made a lotta people happy and he’s gonna be missed. He taught me to always get salmon with mashed potatoes instead of the lentils. Rest in Peace William.” Sherrod Small who has known Stephenson since the 90’s wrote “I loved that grumpy bastard❤👊🏽 You will be missed!!”

Joe Materese wrote “Every time I ever hear bacon sizzling I will forever think of the super kind @newweeeyum #WilliamStephenson doing his perfect job of turning a random NYC comedy club audience into a well oiled group ready to be the best audience they know how to be. RIP William.” Adrienne Iapalucci wrote “This is so heartbreaking. He always made me laugh and will be missed.”

So many remembered how touched they were that Stephenson was kind to them. Like Sean Donnelly who tweeted “Thank you for always being nice to me.” Pete Lee wrote “This lovable grouch hosted the first show that I ever did in New York City. He barked at every comedian in the Comic Strip green room, but he was kind to me. I asked him why he was nice to me, and yet he roasted all the other comics backstage. He said, “Because I’ve known you 10 seconds and I know you’re not an asshole. These other guys are assholes.” Over the years, he always killed and he was always a sweetheart, and I will miss seeing him on the steps of the Cellar. R.I.P William Stephenson. You will be missed!” Greg Stone remembered Williams being nice to him when he wasn’t comfortable, and thanked him for the laughs. Yamaneika called him quick witted, down to earth, genuine and kind. Sam Morril remembered Stephenson as a true NY curmudgeon and Cellar staple, and said “Making him laugh felt extra special bc you knew he wasn’t faking it. I’ll miss him mocking me for always believing in the Knicks. RIP William.‬” Leonard Ouzts wrote “RIP WILLIAM STEVENSON. Was always nice to me. From the first day we met @comedycellarusa !! Always brought me on stage respectfully. I’ll miss you old man !!” John Mulaney called him a wonderful comic who was funny & grouchy & kind & weird & great. “William, thank you for being nice to me at the Cellar from the first night I met you til the last time I saw you. We weren’t close but I never once thought about you without smiling.” Christian Finnegan said the first time Stephenson remembered his name, he felt like he’d been given his union card.

Nore Davis thanked Stephenson for helping him develop as a comic. “He always told me what was wrong with my set and never what was good. That was his way of telling me I wasn’t funny…yet. He told me he watched my Away Game special and said “I really liked it”. That meant the world to me. It was like I made my own father laugh! After that, anytime I’d see him, we’d make each other laugh by talkin Jive like we were in the 70’s! I’d say “Will, what it is sucka?” He say “It’s on the floor where ya left it” and I’d say “Well ya better pick it up, flip it and let it drop again cause it ain’t mine” then we both laugh about how ridiculous we sounded. I’m going to miss that. I’m going to miss him. Rest in power, you beautiful jive turkey”

Mike Lawrence remembered him as a consummate host. “New York City is one of the only places in the world where you can make a living hosting comedy shows land William Stephenson was one of the very few people that was good enough to do it for a very long time. RIP to a nice, funny guy.”

From Dave Attell, “NYC comedy won’t be the same with the passing of the late great William Stephenson. Rest In Peace”

Stephenson was 61; no cause of death has not been announced.

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William. #ComedyFamily

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Rest in peace William Stephenson 🙏

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Funny man mentor friend . Great Comic so sad. RIP.

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Rest In Peace William Stepheson.

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RIP William

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Hearing Will pass shook my world. He always told me what was wrong with my set and never what was good. That was his way of telling me I wasn’t funny…yet. He told me he watched my Away Game special and said “I really liked it”. That meant the world to me. It was like I made my own father laugh! After that, anytime I’d see him, we’d make each other laugh by talkin Jive like we were in the 70’s! I’d say “Will, what it is sucka?” He say “It’s on the floor where ya left it” and I’d say “Well ya better pick it up, flip it and let it drop again cause it ain’t mine” then we both laugh about how ridiculous we sounded. I’m going to miss that. I’m going to miss him. Rest in power, you beautiful jive turkey!❤️🙏 #rip

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A great great dude. Wee-yum. 😞

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RIP @newweeeyum

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RIP William. @newweeeyum

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Bye, William. You were great.

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