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Dallas comedian Joshua Fischer, left, poses for a picture with comedian Jeff Jeffries during Jeffries' surprise visit to Hyena's Comedy Nightclub last November.
Dallas comedian Joshua Fischer, left, poses for a picture with comedian Jeff Jeffries during Jeffries' surprise visit to Hyena's Comedy Nightclub last November.
Courtesy of Dan Danzy

Dallas' Comedy Community Mourns the Loss of Joshua Fischer, Continues His Show for His Family

If comedian Joshua Fischer saw you perform a set, he'd be your biggest supporter no matter how well you did.

"You could bomb, and he would tell you that you did great," said comedian and friend Lawrence Rosales. "When you needed it, he was there."

Fischer didn't just aspire to do comedy. He also wanted to do whatever he could for other comedians whether it was giving them a laugh during a set that wasn't working or starting a regular showcase so they could be paid for their performances even if it meant taking money out of his own pocket.

"He would go to support people at shows even if they were shows where he had nothing to do with them, which is really a rare thing for comedians," said comedian and friend Kristina Romero. "Josh went to see everyone."

Dallas' comedy community lost its biggest supporting star Saturday when Fischer took his own life at the age of 42 during a visit in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. A post on a Facebook community group for Dallas comedians written by a family friend broke the news of Fischer's death.

"The community lost one of the good ones," said comedian and friend David Jessup. "You always hear, 'Oh, he was nice' but he really was a nice guy."

Before he died, Fischer put together a show for Sports City Cafe in Durant, Okla. The show will still go on at 9 p.m. Saturday, but all proceeds will go to his family, according to a Facebook post.

Jessup says Fischer started pursuing comedy in Dallas during the last couple of years. Jessup first met him at a show in Hyena's Comedy Nightclub in Plano where he and comedian Brandon Davidson opened for Christopher Reid, also known as Kid from the rap duo Kid 'N Play.

"Josh was very blown away by it and came up to Brandon and I and asked how he could get into comedy," Jessup said. "We told him what he should do, and he kind of just jumped in."

It was easy to get to know and become friends with someone like Fischer, said fellow comedian and friend Dan Danzy, who first met Fischer at an open mic at Hyena's Comedy Nightclub in Dallas. The two became close friends and Danzy said Fischer was the first one to fill him in on some of the comic community's biggest moments, such as when Jim Jeffries did a surprise set at Hyena's last November.

"I'll never forget my first thought of him," Danzy said. "I thought he looked like a grownup Bart Simpson and immediately when he made eye contact with me, he had this big, goofy smile, and normally that would creep me out, but because of his presence, I could tell I should go up and talk to him."

Fischer not only liked to make other comedians laugh as well as audiences laugh.

"He had his own style, and many times, he would crack me the fuck up," Romero said. "The way he would say things and the way he thought was so purely him. There were times I saw him bomb and there were times I saw him shine, and afterwards I would love to see the smile on his face."

Fischer also helped create showcases so other comics could have a place to perform and earn some money for their sets, like the Friday night showcase at Taste of the Islands in Plano and the Fort City Cafe in Durant.

"One of the things that was awesome about Josh is he would put on shows and made sure comics were paid," Jessup said. "It really validates you as a performer. Even if you're just getting 20 bucks, you're still a professional comic."

The showcases he helped create were just another part of his plan to celebrate comedy, said another comedian and friend, Ryan Perrio.

"He was a very big fan of comedy and his ambition besides for himself was for others," he said. "Sometimes when you're not having success or realizing your personal goals, you can be a curmudgeon to others or be a fan and he chose to support."

Rosales says that Fischer loved comedians and humor that explored dark boundaries and started out trying to build his own act along those lines.

"His favorite hands down was Doug Stanhope," he said. "That's who he modeled himself after, and if you're doing it right, you start out doing someone else. It was dark and brutal for a long time. I remember when we would talk a lot and he would talk about these crazy topics on stage, and I told him I wanted to hear about the relationship between him and his wife [Kristina Fischer] because it's so interesting and how would this work. He liked pushing on the dark stuff but now after his passing, I realize he didn't talk about himself. He avoided it. I tried to get him to do it more, but I think he was fighting a lot more demons that we knew about."

Fischer may have been a champion for his fellow comedians but he sometimes struggled to give himself enough credit even though he was still learning how to play the room.

"In year one, you're an artist and everything's cool and all fun and year two and three, I felt like I was a failure," Perrio said. "There was a lot of expectations that you weren't getting met, and it can become more and more of a struggle. It's an impetus because you're discovering more about yourself and discovering the dark places and you look for material wherever you can, and you can really scratch the surface about things that affect you deeply."

The Dallas comedy scene won't be the same without Fischer from the stage and the audience. Romero said he spent more than his fair share of time trying to support comedy on both.

"The thought of the comedy scene without Josh is awful," Romero says. "It's a darker comedy scene. It really is. There's not a lot of nice people like Josh, a lot of unconditionally nice people like who go out to support you just to support you."

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