Dear Readers,

First of all, apologies: This letter is not as good as it could be; we’ll explain why later.

Today we have the difficult task of sharing some very-not-funny news about a very funny person. Brian Agler, a long-time McSweeney’s contributor, a great writer, and our dear friend, has left us. He wrote about his illness better than we ever could in a (characteristically) eloquent piece, “Don’t Worry.” We hope you take the time to read it.

Many of you will recognize Brian’s name from the outstanding McSweeney’s pieces he’s written, conveniently collected below. But even if you don’t know his name, we’re willing to bet that Brian’s words have made you laugh at some point. And if you SOMEHOW haven’t already come across Brian’s work, all we can say is — dang, you’re in for such a treat. Just skip right to the pieces, you can come back and read the rest of this later.

Brian was a fantastic writer. His work is always hilarious: carefully observed, delicately crafted, and expertly paced. He was also a generous, kind, and thoughtful editor. The two of us were friends and collaborators with Brian for 13 years; in that time, he gave us notes on drafts of just about everything we’ve written, and those notes made our work immeasurably better.

Which brings us to the aforementioned explanation: This piece would also be a lot better with Brian’s notes. In every way. We know he’d even be able to pitch us some jokes that would be tasteful and appropriate for the moment, but still very funny. As we write this, we can hear him saying something like, “You could probably find some more laugh lines in this one.” And he’d be right, as usual. Sorry, bud, we just weren’t up to it this time.

Fortunately, there are more than enough laughs to go around in Brian’s pieces. He could always make us laugh, even on a tough day. We hope you’ll read his work, and keep laughing along with us.

— Luke Burns & James Folta

P.S. We know Brian has brought a lot of joy to a lot of people over the years, and if you’re one of those people and you’d like to send his loved ones a message, please send a note to Donations may be made in Brian’s memory to Stand Up To Cancer.

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Brian Agler’s McSweeney’s Pieces

The Rules of This Board Game Are Long, But Also Complicated

Famous Authors Write Pieces About Famous Authors Writing About Modern Things

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

How You Can Still Have Your Pudding If You Don’t Eat Your Meat

North Korea’s Most Controversial Standup Comic Performs At The People’s Shack Of Laffs
(with Luke Burns, 12/3/09)

This Is an Ad Targeted At Millennials

Scenes From Iconic Films Hastily Rewritten So That They Pass the Bechdel Test