Arts & Entertainment

Jay Leggett, LA sketch comic and teacher dies in Wisconsin at 50

A screenshot of Leggett from
A screenshot of Leggett from "The Room Live," a comedy show he performed in in 2009.

Actor and comedian Jay Leggett, a well-known personality and teacher in L.A.'s comedy and improv scene, died after a day of hunting on the opening weekend of deer season in Wisconsin.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department said emergency crews were called to a cabin near Tomahawk, Wisconsin just after 4 p.m. Saturday where witnesses told officers Leggett had returned from a deer stand on an ATV just before collapsing. They arrived to find family members performing CPR on him, the AP reported. Paramedics continued without success, and he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Originally from Wisconsin, Leggett, 50,  had been living and working in Los Angeles as a actor, writer, director and teacher. 

He was a veteran of Chicago's Second City and IO Theater improv comedy scene, who got his big break as a cast member of the 90s sketch comedy show "In Living Color." Leggett went on to perform in a number of movies and TV shows and co-wrote several of his own films including "Employee of the Month" and "Without a Paddle."

At the IO West Theater in Los Angeles, a community hub and performance space in Hollywood where Leggett taught, artistic director James Grace said Leggett will be remembered for far more than his comedy.   

"He was somebody who had success and never let it go to his head," said Grace."[He] really had a joy and tremendous respect for improvisation and for comedy and for writing. And he shared that with other people and inspired that in other people as well." 

Grace, who has known Leggett for over 20 years, said he was a good friend and mentor who always had time to help others looking to make it in a tough field. 

"I saw him on Monday at the IO West. And he was sitting at the bar," Grace said. "There were a couple of students that he had just taught recently. There were some friends that have known him as long as I have. There was just a mix of people around him. He was that kind of person. He didn't belong to one click or another [...] He just looked so full of joy. He was just like the mayor, sitting there." 

Leggett was a big fan of hunting, even directing a documentary on Wisconsin deer hunting culture called "To The Hunt":

Trailer for 'To The Hunt'

You can catch some of Leggett's "In Living Color" performances on Youtube. You can also see him perform on humorous and heartfelt Christmas carol on  "The Room Live": 

Merry Christmas From the Family - Jay Leggett in The Room Live


This story has been updated.