Franny's Last Ride - Mike DeStefano

“She was thrown out of hospice for not dying. And only she could pull it off.”

Franny's Last Ride

by Mike DeStefano

Mike struggles with how to give support to his wife, who is dying in hospice.

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Mike DeStefano was a thoroughly original person. He was a brilliant comic, but his comedy was not for sissies. Much of his humor came from talking about the years he spent addicted to heroin. You can hear many of his best sets on his YouTube channel.

I first met Mike Destefano in 2007 at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. It was our third year at the festival, and I got a call from Kirsten Ames, who had done a brilliant job casting our shows there in the past. She had a knack for knowing which comedians would be willing to drop their comedy acts, show their vulnerability and tell a real story. In past years she had identified the then up-and-coming Mike Birbiglia, whose story eventually became the Off-Braodway Hit My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend; and Anthony Griffith, who told the devastating story of his young daughter’s death.

She told me she had a feeling about this new guy. His name was Mike, and he was from the Bronx – a real tough guy. He had stories I wouldn’t believe, if he was willing to tell them. He had never told them on stage before.

He called me ten minutes later, and by the time we hung up he had told me not one but two stories that we Mothies would call “mainstage worthy”. I called Kirsten back and asked if the festival would be willing to give Mike two slots, one in each of the shows we were producing from them that year. I have never asked for anything like that for a storyteller before or since. He was just that good. She said yes.

He closed our first Aspen show that year, sharing the stage with some heavy hitters including Marc Maron, John Oliver and the actor Billy Baldwin. From the moment Mike took the stage, telling a story about taking his dying wife, Franny on one last motorcycle ride, he owned the show and the crowd. It was one of those moments where it felt like the entire audience was holding hands under the table. There was an intense stillness to the listening, but also a sense that the quiet energy he was giving out might just blow the roof off. You can see that performance here:

Mikeand Franny

Mike DeStefano with his wife, Franny.