Comedian David A. Arnold Dies At 54
David A. Arnold, an actor, writer, showrunner, and seasoned stand-up comedian, passed away on Wednesday, according to his family. He was 54.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the untimely passing of our husband, father, brother, and friend, David A. Arnold,” the comic’s family wrote. “David passed away peacefully today in his home, and doctors have ruled the cause of death due to natural causes. Please keep our family in prayer and respect our privacy now, as we are all shocked and devastated by this loss.”
David A. Arnold, A Seasoned Stand-Up Comedian Passed Away
The announcement just said that the person had died of “natural causes,” which is vague.
“It Ain’t for the Weak” was Arnold’s second Netflix comedy special, produced by Kevin Hart’s company, Hartbeat. Arnold’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, served as the location for the July special’s filming at the Hanna Theatre.
Arnold enormously impacted the L.A. stand-up events, and his appearances on Comedy Central and BET often drew large crowds and garnered positive reviews from critics.
Arnold featured his wife, Julie L. Harkness, and their daughters, Anna-Grace, and Ashlyn, in his animated brand of comedy. His unique take on parenting won over audiences at the Improv and the Comedy Store in addition to the Laugh Factory, where he had hosted the popular show Chocolate Sundaes.
The stage was not the only place he could perform his comedic magic. Starring teen hip-hop artist Alaya “That Girl Lay Lay” High and Gabrielle Nevaeh Green, “That Girl Lay Lay” was a hit on Nickelodeon, and Arnold was the show’s creator and showrunner. The series’ executive producers also included Will Packer (“Beast,” “Girls Trip”).
After its premiere in 2021, the show quickly rose to become one of Netflix’s top 10 most-watched series. Season 2 began airing in July.
“We are shocked and incredibly saddened by the sudden passing of our dear friend and creative partner, David A. Arnold,” Nickelodeon said. “On behalf of everyone at Nickelodeon, we send our thoughts and condolences to his family, his friends, and his fans.
“David was an immense talent and a gifted storyteller with a wide range of fans, from adults through his stand-up to kids and families through the Nickelodeon show he created and executive produced for us, ‘That Girl Lay Lay.’”
“Fuller House” on Netflix and “Bigger” on BET+ are just two of the projects that Arnold has developed and produced. The 20-year comedy veteran was rare among Hollywood showrunners for being black.
In the wake of Arnold’s passing, several cartoonists took to social media to express their sorrow.
“Our closely knit comedy community mourns the loss of one of the greatest to ever do it,” his friend and fellow comedian Chris Spencer said. “He was admired by his peers, respected by other veterans, and revered by the burgeoning comedians he mentored. He will be deeply missed, especially by his comedy fraternity.”
“I just found out about @DavidAArnold passing. I’m standing 25 feet from where I last shared a laugh with him,” comedian Eric Schwartz tweeted. “This is not fair. He was one of the best comedians today and an even better human. I’m crushed, and now I have to go on stage and try to be funny. Love you, David.”
“He was a teacher,” comedian Jeremy “Gumbo,” Christian said. “Even though he had his TV writing career, worked with Kevin Hart, he still had major aspirations to be a stand-up comedian and make it on Netflix, and he finally did it in the last couple of years.”
Now this death truly hurts. Rest in Power David A. Arnold. Thank you for the many laughs! Lord be with his family!🥺💔 pic.twitter.com/41tXmQ23F5
— Savannah🇯🇲🦋 (@iamsavannahp) September 9, 2022
“He used his time to give back to the community. He poured into me and inspired me to learn improv,” Christian said.
“He was one of the first people to do my podcast, and he always really inspired me,” comedian Bill Dawes said. “We talked about how everything he manifested during the podcast came to light this year…. I truly admired him and, ironically, would always rib him about how hot and fit he looked now that he was famous. I feel bad for his family, wife, and kids. What a great guy.”
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