NEW BRUNSWICK — After decades of struggling in the entertainment industry, comedian Greg Giraldo was on the verge of becoming a household name in the Fall of 2010.
Giraldo was riding high with his 2009 release of “Midlife Vices,” a standup comedy album and DVD. He’d appeared in recent years on the Comedy Central roasts of Joan Rivers, Pamela Anderson and Chevy Chase.
And months before his death, he participated in the highly rated Roast of David Hasselhoff on Comedy Central, drawing laughter from cable audiences and fellow comics with lines like: “You had a car that started when you talked to it. Now you have a car that won’t start when you blow into it.”
He was a hit on national TV during this time. Giraldo had appeared on “The Marriage Ref” and as a judge on “Last Comic Standing,” both on NBC. To his fans and friends, it must have seemed that Giraldo’s career was gaining momentum after so many years of standup.
But he was out of control.
A Harvard-educated lawyer, Giraldo admitted through comedy that he’d struggled for years with drugs and alcohol. He quit drinking for a time, but then transferred his addictions to prescription pills. He joked about snorting crystal meth off a switchblade at an after-hours club.
Giraldo had split with his wife, Maryann McAlpin, and their three sons. He joked during an interview that he needed to hire a lawyer to arrange to see the boys.
Joe Shrank, a personal friend of both Giraldo and McAlpin, wrote that in his blog “The Fix” that the last six months of Giraldo’s life everyone waited for the call that would inform them that Greg had overdosed on drugs or died.
“Between all the drinking and drugs, the sporadic periods of remission, clarity, and hope started to become less frequent and I would confront him, telling him he was getting weirder and that I was going to stop trying to rescue him (I never did),” wrote Schrank. “In the last six months of his life, whenever I saw his manager’s name flash on my phone, I’d think, ‘Today is the day; Greg is dead.’ I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that the day I feared eventually arrived. When it happened, after an overdose on prescription pills, it was like losing a friend to a terminal cancer—jarring and shocking, but not surprising.”
The phone call came Sept. 25, 2011.
Giraldo was in New Brunswick to appear at a The Stress Factory, a small comedy club on Albany Street. He was staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which was a couple of blocks from the comedy club. On a warm September evening, the hotel was walking distance.
After the show, Giraldo headed over to the Hyatt, where he’d rented a room for about $220 a night.
Here’s where he no doubt checked in:
Giraldo reportedly hung out with fans and drank at the Hyatt bar for awhile.
The party drifted into the early morning hours. No telling how many people were there, who they were or exactly what drugs they were using. No detailed report on the incident has ever been made public.
Giraldo was due to appear at an anti-drug rally the next day, according to Shrank. But he texted Shrank that night or early on Saturday, the 26th, to let his friend know he wouldn’t be there.
About 15 to 20 hours after the party broke up, Giraldo failed to show up for his standup act at the Stress Factory. His girlfriend, who had been trying to call him throughout the day on Saturday found him unconscious and not really breathing “just laying there” in his room.
Here’s the 911 call.
The girlfriend administered CPR until police and rescue workers arrived. Giraldo was taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, which was less than a mile away.
He was on life support for about five days before his family pulled the plug.
Surrounded by family, Greg Giraldo died in the hospital on Sept. 29, 2010. He was 44.
Giraldo is buried in Hampton Bays, Long Island. Check out his grave.
Months after his death, his wife Maryann McAlpin-Giraldo deleted her Facebook page.
Then she appeared on Joy Behar with Giraldo friend Colin Quinn (video below).
UPDATE: Greg Giraldo suite declared “allergen-free”