Michael Lehrer, Second City Alum Who Had ALS, Dies at 44: He 'Died with Dignity on His Own Terms'
Michael Lehrer, a comedian and Second City alum who had ALS, has died. He was 44.
Lehrer, who was diagnosed with the debilitating neurological disease in 2017, died in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday with the assistance of a doctor, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
Oregon's Death with Dignity Act has allowed patients with terminal illnesses to end their lives with medication under the supervision of their medical team since 1997.
"Michael died with dignity on his own terms," his partner and caregiver, Colette Montague, told the newspaper, adding that it "was the hardest decision he ever made."
A friend, Seth Weitberg, recently visited Lehrer in Portland and told the Sun-Times, "His spirits were good. He was, I think, really at peace with his decision."
A tribute shared on his Instagram account expressed gratitude for everything the performer had "given to the world."
"Godspeed you wild and crazy man," the post read. "We love you always."
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Lehrer was remembered by Second City for "his irreverent and iconoclastic material."
The performer, who was selected as a New Face of Comedy at the 2014 Just for Laughs Festival, helped create four original sketch reviews for the famed troupe and spent time touring and at an outpost in Las Vegas, they shared. And for his last improv set with Second City he memorably got a tattoo onstage.
Following his diagnosis, they wrote that "Michael bravely and hilariously pivoted his comedic persona to directly confront his struggles and foibles with the devastating disease."
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In the final years of his life, Lehrer kept performing and was a regular on the live comedy podcast Kill Tony, performing in the show in Austin 99 times between 2019 and 2022, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
"I have ALS," one of his jokes went, according to the newspaper. "One question: Where the f--- did all that ice bucket money go?"
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"We knew it was coming yet there are still no words for it. What a human," read a tribute posted on the podcast's Instagram account. "He truly lived to make you all laugh. Rest easy."
Joe Rogan, a frequent guest on the show, also shared a post honoring the comedian.
"The courage this man had to do stand up while battling a debilitating disease was insanely impressive, and though he struggled to get words out the man would KILL onstage," he wrote. "He was a real legend, and I'm going to miss him very much."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support Lehrer's son.
"He wanted his son, Colin to be ok financially when he left this world. Please help honor Michael and show him how much we loved him by making sure his son can be secure for a while," read a post on the page, which has already raised nearly $17,000 in under 24 hours.
"He made us laugh like we never knew we could, at things we never knew we could laugh at," the post continued. "Let's come together as a community and fulfill Michael's last wish as best we can."