His tiny posture commanded the stage with the hectic intensity of a cheetah on bath salts. His unmistakable, Beavis-esque screechy voice and machine gun delivery pummeled even the most jaded comedy club crowds to the point of exhaustion. Comics overuse the words “I killed” but he would kill. YouTube clips don’t do it justice, watching him live felt like a physical ordeal.
You may have never heard of Erik Myers, but your favorite comedian was scared to follow him.
On February 24th, 2021, Erik died tragically at age 40 after getting hit by a car, and the comedy world mourned one of the most underrated, manic wordsmiths to ever step on a stage.
Erik and I weren’t close friends, I won’t pretend we were. We were comedy friends. My first ever paid gig was opening for him. I was a nervous 15 year old, sweating bullets and frantically trying to memorize my setlist like I was studying for a geometry exam. He was a seasoned pro who couldn’t have been kinder and more supportive. That was the thing about Erik, he was the funniest guy in the room but he was also the most humble. When I moved to LA I felt like I was in over my head and Erik (already a Comedy Store regular and doing TV appearances) made me feel welcome. He had every reason to be an arrogant asshole and never was.
While he never achieved mainstream stardom, Erik stacked an array of impressive credits and became a name that damn near every comic knew. He recorded a Hulu special “Dopeless Romantic” as well as two other specials and three albums. He did stand-up on Showtime and made an autobiographical cartoon titled “Court Ordered.” He opened for a laundry list of household names that included Dane Cook, Andrew Dice Clay and (pre-scandal) Louis CK. I always thought that if any comic from the Baltimore scene was gonna make it to the moon and back it would be Erik Myers.
Erik had his fair share of demons, and his ability to turn even the most catastrophic chapters of his life into over-the-top, whimsical chaos onstage was like witnessing David Copperfield wiggle out of a straight jacket underwater. Erik’s comedy was his therapy, but he never talked about his problems by slowing the show down and “getting real.” He discussed his battles against depression and addiction with the same endearing silliness as when he ranted about Taco Bell and hotel porn.
On stage, Erik had the roaring energy of ten NFL teams crammed into one little 92 pound body. His aggressively loud, high pitched voice filled the room like a comedic flash grenade. And there was no easing into his act, once he got on stage he went from zero to 100. Imagine someone flooring an Aston Martin One-77 while you’re in the passenger seat and haven’t buckled your seatbelt yet, that’s how it felt when Erik started his set.
So when I say comics didn’t wanna follow Erik Myers, I’m not just waxing poetic with a vague complimentary phrase that sounds cool. Every comic from nervous new dudes to superstars with seven figures in their bank statements did NOT wanna follow Erik Myers. Doing stand-up after him was like having to put out a fire.
I recall a friend of mine, Baltimore comic Jim Meyer (no relation), reminiscing on when he and Erik had the privilege to open for the one and only Mitch Hedberg at The DC Improv back in the day. Hedberg, unquestionably an iconic comedy legend and possibly the funniest MF to ever walk the Earth, paced backstage every nanosecond of Erik’s 20 minutes on the mic, blown away by his talent but also dreading having to go up after him, muttering “wow… so fuckin funny.”
I once heard a rumor that while Erik was featuring for Jeremy Piven, he was crushing so hard that an irritated Jeremy asked the host if he could go out and bomb for 10 minutes to lower the expectations for his set. I can’t confirm if the story is true but the fact that it feels plausible speaks volumes about Erik (…and Jeremy Piven.)
Comics are a narcissistic yet fragile breed, reluctant to give props to anyone who gets more laughs than us and manages to pop our egotistical bubbles. But every comic loved Erik. It was impossible not to. We would quote his jokes in a Tourettes-like fashion on drunken nights and long drives. He was actually somewhat similar to Hedberg in that when you quoted him you had to do it in his voice. My brother Michael and I would randomly text each other lines from Erik’s act like a secret language. Bite sized, out of context punchlines like “how do you spell PCP???” became a fixture in the Landry household.
Erik’s presence was so vibrant and bright. So full of cartoonishly contagious energy it was practically spilling out of his ears. It’s incomprehensible that someone who was so full of life is no longer with us. Some artists gain more recognition after their death- perhaps that could happen with Erik’s work. It’d be exciting to watch, though practically a war crime that it happened so late.
But at the end of the day, whether Erik goes down in history as a universally celebrated humorist who gained posthumous fame or as a beloved and underrated “comics comic”, I don’t think we’ll ever stop quoting his jokes. In that way, he’ll never leave us.