Harris Wittels' sister announces fest honoring her brother
Parks and Recreation writer and executive producer Harris Wittels, who died in 2015 at age 30, is being honored later this month at a festival just for him: His sister, Stephanie Wittels Wachs, is launching the first-ever Harris Phest — the title’s a reference to the comedian’s love for the band Phish — on April 20, what would have been his 33rd birthday.
The event will take place at Houston’s 8th Wonder Brewery and feature a Phish cover band, Humblebraggot beer (Wittels coined the term “humblebrag” and later wrote a book about it in 2012), stand-up sets, and scenes from Wittels’ Parks and Rec scripts, along with a segment highlighting his best tweets. Proceeds will go toward the Harris Wittels Fund, which gives scholarships to graduates of his alma mater.
“It’s easy to be sad about Harris no longer being with us,” Wittels Wachs told EW in a statement. “I feel unrelenting sadness every day. But the fact remains that Harris didn’t make people sad. He made people laugh, smile, and relish in being alive. So on his birthday, we want to celebrate him.”
Wittels Wachs has previously remembered her brother in essays on Medium, where she’s written about her experience with grief.
“I don’t mind feeling the feelings,” she wrote in an article published on the first anniversary of his death. “I welcome them, in fact. I just don’t know what else to say about them. I don’t know how to talk about them anymore. My brother is gone. He’s never coming back. And, it sucks. And, it hurts. And, it will always hurt. And, that’s just the way it is.”
RSVP to Harris Phest here. The event is presented by Rec Room, a space Wittels Wachs co-founded to nurture artists in the Houston area. The venue features multiple nods to Wittels: “We are all horrible and wonderful and figuring it out,” something he tweeted in 2014 (above), is hanging on one of its walls.