Comedian Kenny DeForest, 37, Dies in New York City Car Accident

Comedian Kenny DeForest, 37, Dies in New York City Car Accident: A Missouri man who devoted his life to bringing joy to others passed away on Wednesday, following a car accident just days prior.

Kenny DeForest, a 37-year-old comedian based in New York, was struck by a vehicle near his Brooklyn residence on Friday. A friend, spearheading a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of the family, mentioned that DeForest was “in an e-bike accident.”

He underwent neurological surgery at Kings County Hospital to “remove a piece of his skull and relieve pressure from a brain bleed.” Tragically, DeForest succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

Following the accident, the stand-up comedian spent his final days surrounded by the people who loved him the most, including his parents, family, and friends.
“Kenny’s final moments included some of his favorite songs, stories of his childhood, and memories of his extensive positivity and joy for life,” the post reads.

Ryan Beck, the organizer, expressed that his friend’s legacy would endure.
“Kenny’s impactful life will endure through the gift of organ donation. Even in death, he will continue to make meaningful improvements in the lives of others.”

The funds collected through GoFundMe, totaling about $177,372 as of Thursday, will be used to assist the DeForest family in covering the expenses incurred from his medical treatment.

Discover more about DeForest, who was previously honored as one of Brooklyn’s 50 Funniest People:

Who Was Kenny DeForest?

Kenny DeForest was a versatile artist, excelling as a comic, writer, actor, and musician. He gained widespread recognition for his performances on Comedy Central, “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” HBO’s “Crashing,” and TruTV’s “Friends of the People.”

His career gained momentum in 2015 when he earned recognition as one of Comedy Central’s “Funniest People to Watch.” DeForest grew up in Springfield, Missouri, nurturing dreams of becoming a professional basketball player. He attended Kickapoo High School and later pursued his education at Drury University in his hometown, where he also played basketball.

Comedy, which DeForest humorously referred to as his “second dream,” became a significant part of his life. In his August comedy special, he jokingly remarked that his career as a comic unfolded because his aspirations of playing in the NBA didn’t materialize.

“Seriously, it’s not lost on me what a privilege it is to chase my second preferred profession. You know? Not everybody gets to do that.”

Interestingly, the realization that he wanted to become a comedian struck him during one of his basketball games. It was when he was a senior in high school, tasked with guarding Tyler Hansbrough, a future NBA player.

He tells the audience that he may technically have lost that day, but thinks “we all won.”
“Hansbrough got a full ride scholarship to North Carolina. I got this story. Which one’s really better, you know?”
DeForest says there was a specific moment in that game when he became a comedian, saying he threw the ball to Hansbrough knowing that he was about to dunk on him from experience.
“I’m not letting this happen again. Six times is simply too many. He took a dribble to the middle, he was about to go and I just wrapped him up. I just wrapped him up, grabbing my wrist,” he said.

Hansbrough got through him, and they both ended up dunking, soaring off the ground. DeForest experienced a moment of clarity after the ball hit the rim, then his head, and finally the stands.
“Oh, I see. I should be a comedian. I should write this down and make it funny, so it doesn’t manifest as trauma. And here I am,” he says.

Where Have I Seen Kenny DeForest?

There are several places where you may have come across DeForest during his career as a comedian.
Here are some of the venues where he has made appearances:

  • “Best Friends” podcast in 2023
  • “Don’t You Know Who I Am?” in 2023
  • Comedy Central in 2022
  • “The Late Late Show with James Corden” in 2019
  • Comedy Central in 2019
  • “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in 2017

How has the comedy community reacted to his death?

Since the news of DeForest’s death broke, fellow comedians have turned to social media to express their admiration and gratitude for having known him. Standup comedian Adam Conover wrote on Instagram that DeForest “was one of the funniest and most beloved comics any of us knew. A tragedy. Watch his special on YouTube. It came out three months ago. It’s beautiful. (Expletive) cars forever.”

Close friend and fellow comedian Andy Sandford expressed his reluctance to have to make a post about his friend, roommate, confidant, joke machine partner, and one of the best people he knew. Sandford simply wishes he could have him back.

“I learned very early in life that things do not happen for a reason. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and they’re gone way too early. RIP brother. You set the bar,” Sandford wrote on Instagram.”One of the most genuinely supportive, funny guys who always, always, always made me feel welcome in the boys club, never made me feel like a sideshow….I’m going to miss you so much,” Booster wrote.

“Kenny DeForest was a universally beloved comedian who died tragically, and much too young. His relaxed, confident delivery always stood out. As you can see from his debut late night set on LNSM, he wasn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics, but never just to be edgy—always in service of an original angle and a great joke. It’s a shame we won’t get to see what he comes up with next.”

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