Kevin Barnett, 32, Dies While on Vacation in Mexico; Comedians Pay Respects

photo by Mindy Tucker

Update:  Mexican authorities have released a statement regarding the cause of Kevin Barnett’s death. They are listing his COD as “Non Traumatic Hemorrhage caused by pancreatitis.”  According to E!, Barnett’s remains are still in possession of the Tijuana Forensic Medical Service, waiting to be delivered to family members. Barnett’s body was received by authorities in Tijuana at 5:50am on January 22nd. 

This weekend, comedian Kevin Barnett was enjoying his vacation in Mexico, and posted a photo in a new sweater. “Been accused of cultural appropriation several times,” he wrote. “In my head I just gave a lady some money so I ain’t cold. Either way. Swag heavy. Mixtape comin.”

On Tuesday came the shocking news that Barnett passed away. He was only 32.

All seemed well for Burnett who was off to a pretty impressive start career-wise. He was a producer and writer for FOX Network’s “Rel”, a writer on the critically acclaimed “Carmichael Show”, a writer and producer on “Broad City,” wrote for the “Eric Andre Show,” “Unhitched,” and “Guy Code,” and he was the head writer for truTV’s vastly underrated sketch series, “Friends of the People,” where I met him for the first time during a set visit. The last time I saw Barnett was last April closing out Austin’s Moontower Festival at the State Theater, doing a weird but funny set with friend Brooks Wheelan.

Kevin had also created a tv movie Kevin vs Josh with writing partner Josh Rabinowitz, about two friends who worked their entire lives to get everything they ever wanted only to learn they hated it. They quit, to go figure out what they actually do want. “It’s the classic story about the 50 year-old white woman giving up the American dream to discover herself in another country, but about two dudes in their 20s who move nowhere.”

Barnett got his break when he, Josh Rabinowitz, the Lucas Brothers and Jermaine Fowler met Jen Bartels and Rel Howery while working on a reboot pilot for In Living Color. When that show didn’t fly, the seven comics pitched “Friends of the People”, their own show with truTV, and when that ended, everyone moved on to bigger things.

Kevin Barnett, Josh Rabinowitz, the Lucas Brothers and Jermaine Fowler all knew each other from doing stand up in New York City together. Then Jen Bartels and Rel Howery came in when they met Jermaine while working on the In Living Color reboot pilot. After that didn’t work out, the seven got together and pitched FOTP. It’s worked out great for them because now they get to do the same type of work, but now they are their own Executive Producers and writers, so there’s no big dog making all the decisions for them.

He was an incredibly sweet and funny guy, who believed in knocking on wood.

The comedy world was shook by the news, with so many tweeting. FOX released a statement expressing great sorrow over the loss. “Our hearts are broken, as are those of everyone at ‘Rel,’ at the news of Kevin Barnett’s passing. He was an incredibly funny, wildly talented man who had so much more to do and so many more stories to tell. We send our thoughts and prayers to his friends and family during this difficult time.”

No cause of death has been released. The news first came from Last Pod Network on Twitter. Barnett was a part of the “Roundtable of Gentlemen” podcast along with Ed Larson, Kevin Barnett, Jackie Zebrowski, Holden McNeely, and Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks. The network tweeted “It’s with a heavy heart we inform you of the passing of Kevin Barnett. The joy he brought to our lives is the greatest gift we have ever received. Remind your friends you love them because you never know when you’ll see them again. We love you KB.”

Barnett was remembered across social media today by comics like Lil Rel, The Lucas Brothers, Hasan Minhaj, Luis J. Gomez, Hari Kondabolu, Martin Morrow, Mike Drucker, Wil Sylvince, Sam Morril, Ed Larson, Brooks Wheelan, Ardie Fuqua, Nore Davis, Carmen Lynch, Josh Gondelman, Charles McBee, Ron Funches, Yannis Pappas, Adam Newman, Aparna Nancherla, Beth Stelling, Elliot Glazer, Jono Zalay, David Alan Grier, Mike Cannon, Harrison Greenbaum, Dave Hill, Mike Scully, Emily Heller, Jackie Kashian, Matteo Lane, Roy Wood Jr., Ali Leroi, Jen Bartels, Phoebe Robinson, Abbi Jacobson, Dan Soder, Calise Hawkins, Sara Benincasa, Nick Turner, Joe List, Chris Millhouse, Sinbad, Peggy O’Leary, Myka Fox, Scott Chaplain, Abbi Crutchfield, Wendi Starling, Gary Vider, Irene Morales, Pete Davidson and more.

Pete Davidson who has known the comedian for almost a decade wrote in a statement, “The world lost a big one today One of the members of our family of comedians, Kevin Barnett died I love Kevin, I’ve known him for ten years and he’s always been the sweetest and funniest, always with a smile on his face He was one of the few who treated me as a comedian when I was only 16. He always made me feel part of the group. ”

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Cannot believe I am using the word “was” to describe @fatboybarnett. Fuck. Yes, he was a friend of @2dopequeens, but Kevin was an amazing dude. He was a funny as hell stand-up comic. Gave great hugs. Always knew when to make fun of me when I was being too serious. Had the most adorable damn smile. Was such a talented writer. Made everyone around him warm and happy. Kevin, I’m so sorry your time on this planet is over. You were a bright light who knew how to make everyone around shine that much better. I’m so happy I got to know you for a little bit. And even though all of us who knew you and loved you are heartbroken, we are so lucky and grateful that we got to spend even one second in your orbit. Thank you for sharing you with us. We will never forget you. #RIP #KevinBarnett Photo by: @withreservation

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Peggy sent me this from her show during our joint venture in Hollywood…its Kevin, being Kevin. Today time froze for me. I don't know about some of you, but its been the longest most confusing day I've had in forever. I've been crying, and laughing, and trying not to throw up. I go from knowing i'll never see his sweet face again and wishing we were all just dead to thinking about how he had me be the writer that prepped him on Comedy Knockout, and how hard we laughed about a joke he wanted to do about putting a pinky in a booty. And we'd laugh and I'd warn him it was funny but wouldn't work and we'd laugh again. Then he went on our show and fucking said "stick a pinky in your booty" or something to that effect and it BOMBED HARD… and he started smiling… and from that point on it was his GO TO call back, infuriating the Trutv execs. It was one of the funniest scariest things I've ever seen. He's a hero. And an angel. And as great as every story about him is, I hate that I have reason to tell it today.

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This is in Montreal a couple of years ago right after Mike Lawrence won the Roast Battle. Kevin and I did New Faces together in 2011 and the night before our big theater show they had us run our sets at The Comedy Nest. Everyone bombed but Kevin bombed the worst. Like literally he didn’t get a single laugh his whole set. I never saw him again after that night. Jk he crushed the show the next night then became a fucking millionaire. Nothing changed him. He was just the best guy and I’m so sad. I’m so sad and I’m so mad and I really want to thank all of the amazing friends I cried with today. Ed said it’s so tough because Kevin has 200 best friends. After today I think it might be an understatement. #BirdLuger

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God dammit @fatboybarnett was funny.

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And this gem from Myka Fox that got love and laughs from dozens of fellow comics.

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