Michael Lehrer, a comedian, died at the age of 44 in Portland, Oregon, after a five-year battle with ALS.
Lehrer’s girlfriend, Colette Montague, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the ailing comedian made the decision to end his life with the assistance of a doctor.
‘Michael died on his own terms, with dignity,’ Montague told the newspaper. ‘He was not suicidal in the least.’ Medical aid in dying was the most difficult decision he had ever made.
Following his 2017 diagnosis with a neurodegenerative disease, the performer, who was a member of The Second City troupe, continued with his career. Lehrer had performed in wheelchairs in Austin clubs and had spoken about his health battle both in his sets and on the podcast Kill Tony, according to Deadline.
Lehrer appeared in the New Faces of a Comedy show at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal in 2014. He worked at The Second City with performers such as Chris Witaske and Tawny Newsome, both of whom paid tribute to their late colleague on social media.
Lehrer was a part of the creation of four original sketch revues, including Sky’s The Limit (Weather Permitting), which won the Jeff Award for Best Revue. He also worked with The Second City Touring Company, as well as extensions of the brand in Las Vegas and on Norwegian Cruise Lines.
He had also worked on BTN’s Big Ten Tailgate and Sports Action Teams, as well as Chicago Underground Comedy, iO Chicago, and the Brooklyn Brewery comedy tour.
Among those to pay memorial to the late comedian was podcaster Joe Rogan, who praised Lehrer for his talent and perseverance.
‘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,’ Rogan said. ‘He was a real legend, and I’m going to miss him very much.’
Witaske said he’d ‘always cherish the years’ he was able to spend with Lehrer at Second City
‘Michael was truly unique, full of mischief and so f***in funny,’ he said. ‘He was always up for anything and loved nothing more than making people laugh.’
He wrapped up in saying, ‘It’s truly safe to say that there will never be another Michael Lehrer. Rest in Peace, brother.’
He is survived by his son Colin and girlfriend Colette.