Houston Matters

Everything Is Horrible And Wonderful: A Sister Looks For Answers In Her Brother’s Death

After her brother died of a heroin overdose, Stephanie Wittels Wachs wrote her memoir, Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful, about — and to — her late brother, Harris, who was an accomplished comedy writer and producer.

Harris and Stephanie
Comedy writer, producer, and actor Harris Wittels with his sister, Stephanie Wittels Wachs.

Harris Wittels carved out an impressive career in comedy at an early age. He grew up in Houston and graduated from HSPVA.

After college, Sarah Silverman saw him perform stand up at an open mic in Los Angeles and offered him a writing job on her Comedy Central show. That led to other gigs, including as a writer/producer on the long-running NBC series Parks and Recreation, where he also played Harris, the stoner animal control guy.

(L-R) Colton Dunn as Brett and Harris Wittels as Harris in a scene from NBC’s Parks and Recreation.

He coined the term “humblebrag,” and wrote a book by the same name.

He even wrote jokes for President Obama and was working with fellow Parks and Rec alum Aziz Ansari on his Netflix series Master of None when his life was cut short by a heroin overdose at the age of 30.

Now, a new book from his sister seeks to shed more light on his life, his struggle with addiction, and his family’s struggle to help him. It’s called Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss.

In the audio above, Michael Hagerty talks with Stephanie Wittels Wachs about who her brother was and the revelations she reached through the grueling process of writing about his addiction and untimely death.

Wittels Wachs will appear at a Brazos Bookstore event tonight (March 6) at 7.


Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the Senior Producer for Houston Matters. He has a degree in journalism from Abilene Christian University and has served as news director for NPR and PBS stations around Texas and The West, including: KUNR-FM in Reno, Nev.; KNPB-TV in Reno, Nev.; and KWBU-TV/FM in Waco, Texas. He...

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