White Bear Lake comedian-actor dies after fall

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

By Amy Carlson Gustafson

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Gus Lynch was known as a larger-than-life presence in the local comedy scene. Described as a guy who would berate you on stage one minute and make you buy him a beer the next, those who knew Lynch said he was like a big brother in the comedy community: a sarcastic guy who made everyone feel welcome.

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Lynch, a 42-year-old comedian and actor from White Bear Lake, died Sunday after a fall at the Coba Mayan ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, where he was vacationing with his family in Akumal. His injuries included a punctured lung, a broken pelvis and broken ribs. Although he survived the fall, he later went into cardiac arrest.

Lynch, whose real name was Jason Gustine, recently won the Joke Joint Comedy Club’s Best Comedian Ever contest and headlined the House of Comedy at the Mall of America in November. During his stand-up career, he opened for big names including David Allen Grier and Doug Stanhope. Lynch also was the director of live events for Stand Up! Records and started a comedy festival in Akumal, Mexico.

Before he got into comedy, Lynch acted in local theater productions including shows at the Guthrie, Jungle and Ordway theaters. He also had parts in TV pilots and Hollywood films including “Hellraiser: Hellseeker,” “Saving Silverman” and “North Country,” in which he played the role of Pete the union rep.

“His sense of humor was robust,” said friend and fellow comedian Chris Knutson. “It was full, yet void of any nonsense. I’ll remember him as a fan of comedy as much as a comedian. His appreciation for the art form showed in his performances.

When a comedian loves comedy as much as he did, they usually make for the best and hardest-working comedians themselves.”

In a short clip from a performance earlier this year, Lynch talked about keeping his kids entertained on a snow day by throwing a daylong Cap’n Crunch cereal festival.

Lynch is survived by his wife, Amanda Thompson, and their two young children.

Friend and fellow comedian Gabe Noah described Lynch’s act as “Family Guy” humor, but with more of an edge.

“He made jokes about his wife and kids,” Noah said. “He would talk about liking to smoke pot. He was very much the Hunter S. Thompson meets Charles Bukowski meets Bill Cosby. He was so much in one guy and his comedy reflected that. Where he really was great — he was very much like an old-school entertainer. He was very much a show-must-go-on kind of guy.”

Dan Schlissel, the head of Stand Up! Records, said there’s a “Gus-shaped hole” in the local comedy community.