Monday, February 22, 2010

What killed the gay British Danny Gans?

Fellow comics have been paying tribute to musical impressionist Jason Wood, the gay British Danny Gans, who died over the weekend-- like his straight Las Vegas counterpart, too young.

Wood died Saturday at 38, after performing Friday night at the Funnybone comedy club in Bournemouth, England.

“We’re still reeling a bit, it’s a terrible shock,” said Mick Callaghan from the club. “Jason was a really nice bloke and always very popular at the club. He did great a show on Friday, went down a storm as always, then got his driver and said: ‘See you next time’. Next thing we heard, he’s dead. You just don’t expect something like this to happen.”

Wood had recently returned from a Caribbean cruise and was set to perform in a burlesque show at London's Cafe De Paris on Saturday night.

Details of his death are still unknown.

Wood worked the same singing impressionist turf as Danny Gans, who died tragically at 52, but although he won mainstream attention as the first person voted off Britain's Strictly Come Dancing show, Jason Wood was flamboyant and edgy, with shows like My Anus Horribilis (a spin on Queen Elizabeth's Annus Horribilis Christmas address of 1992); and while Danny Gans took root on the Las Vegas Strip, Jason Wood traveled the world. While he was a star on the British comedy circuit, he performed in Holland, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, here in the States and represented England at a UN comedy festival in South Africa.

British comedy website site Chortle has more:

"He made his Edinburgh debut in 2001, and in 2006, his Fringe show received a damning one-star review by The Scotsman newspaper, but rather than be disheartened he proudly produced flashes for his posters saying: 'A star – The Scotsman.’

"In 2008, he starred in Living TV's The Underdog Show, which revolved around dog training, while his previous appearances include BBC One primetime show 29 Minutes Of Fame and the hidden camera show, Spy TV."

Chortle lists tributes pouring in from colleagues who are heartbroken by the shocking news.

Flight Of The Conchords star Rhys Darby said: "Your wonderful humour and stunning voice will echo in the halls of hilarity for ever on... You were one of the good ones."

Jim Jeffries said: "Just cried about the passing of Jason Wood, such a great guy. I will really miss him"

Omid Djalii said he was a "lovely man."

Bob Mills said: "Absolutely grief-stricken at this news. The sweetest man. An amazing performer and an absolute joy to work with. We have lost a giant talent. My heart goes out to his family."

There's also a tribute to Wood on the Strictly Come Dancing website:

"Musical comedian and reality TV show star Jason Wood has died at the age of 38.

"The performer – known for his imposing voice and uncannily accurate musical impressions – reached a wider audience when he appeared on the first series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, alongside Natasha Kaplinski. He held the dubious honour of being the first person ever voted off the show."