Comedian Erik Myers, a Florida native, died on Tuesday in a car accident in Amarillo while he was traveling to Dallas to perform at Hyena's Comedy Nightclub.
Myers could do something very few comics are capable of doing: He could make audiences and comedians laugh.
"You kind of get jaded a little bit to headliners and comics in general," says longtime Dallas comedian Seth Cowles. "It's not that it's not funny, but your reaction is a little less audience-like and more of a comedian dissecting their act or looking at different things."
Cowles says he always stopped to watch Myers' set when he came in town from the very first time he saw him perform a headlining show seven years ago at Hyena's.
"He was the guy I was laughing out loud at like I was an audience member again," Cowles says. "He had this energy and relentless machine gun of punchlines that you can tell he worked so hard on his bits. I would literally find myself laughing out loud and it blew me away that I was watching a comic who's doing this thing to me again."
Hyena's owner Randy Butler says Myers performed at his club every 10 months since 2017. He learned the sad news about Myers' passing on Thursday, the day before Myers was scheduled to do a weekend of headlining shows at the chain's Dallas location on Mockingbird Lane.
"It's just unbelievable and incredibly sad," Butler says. "He was just an incredibly sweet guy to everybody. First of all, he was really super talented and had a unique style and cadence. There was nobody out there like him. It set him apart from everybody else."
Myers worked as a paid regular at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles in between shows and tours. He starred in his own specials at The Laugh Factory and on Hulu with Dopeless Romantic. He also appeared on TV showcases including Live at Gotham and Andrew Dice Clay: The Blue Show. Myers wrote and starred in his own animated pilot Court Ordered in which he played a version of himself as an ex-alcoholic trying to stay sober, who is legally ordered to attend a self-help group.
His high scratchy voice and skinny frame helped shape his style as a manic, hyper-observer of human behavior.
"He was just high energy," Butler says. "I don't know how he maintained that voice level for a 45-minute set."
Dallas comedian Ryan Perrio says he first saw Myers opening for Nate Bargatze at the Addison Improv in 2017 and later got to open for him at Hyena's. Myers' trademark energy was a constant even when he spent an hour or more on stage, Perrio says.
"The energy you see in the Taco Bell and Uber clips is his energy throughout the show from start to finish," Perrio says. "Off-stage, complete 180. He was soft spoken and kind and he seemed to so gracious to be in a club, though talent-wise you could definitely see him being a huge name in comedy. He was just happy to be doing it on any level."
Cowles says that Myers was eager to help his fellow comedians even when they didn't ask for it.
"He was very generous with his time and his advice," Cowles says. "I remember the first time I came off, he came up and said, 'I loved your stuff. Let's talk after the show. I have some notes and advice.' He was just a really, really nice dude to talk to."
Myers' energy and dedication to his craft inspired a lot of comics.
"He definitely played a part in my comedy philosophy in that at the end of the day, you should love the ability to perform," Perrio says. "I used to get off stage and lament jokes I forgot or things that did not get the response I wanted. His pure gratitude was just as amazing to see as his comedy."
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