Comedian dies; was festival winner

November 19, 2018

David “Deacon” Gray -- the Denver-based comedian who was the first winner at Norfolk’s Great American Comedy Festival -- has died of cancer.

Gray battled several forms of cancer for the past several years. He was in remission but earlier this year he was informed that he only had a few months to live.

Gray won the first professional stand-up competition at the Great American Comedy Festival in 2007. He returned to perform at several subsequent festivals, and always was an audience favorite. He was a regular at the Comedy Works clubs in Denver and coordinated “new talent nights” there for many years.

“Deacon was a tremendous human being -- always interested in others, always with a smile on his face. The fact that he was an extremely funny comedian was icing on the cake,” said Kent Warneke, the founder of the festival and past chairman.

He last performed in Norfolk at the festival’s 10th anniversary in 2017.

“Many people in the Norfolk area remember him and are saddened by his passing,” Warneke said.

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