DeStefano, who was in his 40s, was born in the Bronx in New York, and according to his official bio, became a heroin user at the age of 15. Fifteen years later, he kicked his addiction and began working as a drug counselor. A spontaneous decision to entertain a crowd of fellow addicts turned into a full-fledged career in comedy.
In addition to his appearances on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," "The Howard Stern Show" and "Comedy Central Presents," DeStefano was a featured performer at HBO's Aspen Comedy Festival and the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. Last year he competed on NBC's "Last Comic Standing," making it to the final five. His one-man show, "A Cherry Tree in the Bronx," was scheduled for a one-night-only performance this week at New York's Barrow Street Theater.
DeStefano also made over 100 appearances at recovery events and conventions, dubbing his work "recovery comedy." In a 2010 interview with ComedyBeat, he said, "I think people really relate on a deep level to pain and suffering. ... You don't have to be a drug addict to know what that's like. All the suffering that everyone has -- every single human being -- we all get sick, we lose people, we die."
Here are some of our favorite DeStefano clips. Be advised, there's lots of swearing, so grab your headphones if you're at work.
In 2006 DeStefano appeared on Showtime's "White Boyz in the Hood."
He came clean about his addiction in this 2009 clip from a stand-up show at the University of New Haven.
He tells tales of an encounter with pushy gang members, among other things, from a 2009 show at New York's Comic Strip club.
After his fourth-place finish on "Last Comic Standing," DeStefano did an official exit interview with The Comic's Comic.
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