A Twin Cities comedian and actor who fell while walking among ruins on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico has died, friends said Tuesday.
Gus Lynch, of White Bear Lake, died Monday while vacationing with his wife and their two children in Akumal, home to a comedy festival he founded. Lynch, born Jason Michael Gustine, was 42.
Lynch fell about 30 feet a few days earlier and suffered significant injuries, said fellow Twin Cities performer and close friend Bryan Bevell.
"He had a broken pelvis and punctured lung, and he came out of surgery fine," Bevell said. But Lynch suffered cardiac arrest Monday morning in Mexico, he said.
In his 15 years of performing, Lynch opened for David Alan Grier and other big names in comedy. As an actor, he made more than two dozen feature film and television appearances and has worked on screen with Owen Wilson, Charlize Theron and Jack Black, among others. His movie credits include "North Country" and a remake of "I Spy." He also won roles on such Twin Cities stages as the Jungle Theater and the History Theatre.
He appeared on the Stand Up! Records compilation CD "Nerd Alert" and held the position director of live events for that Twin Cities label.
He started the Akumal Comedy Festival in 2012. It was scheduled next year for mid-April in the Caribbean beachside destination south of Cancun.
"Gus is my closest and oldest friend," said Bevell, recalling how the two met about 12 years ago during an audition. "When we met, I was struck by what an extraordinarily strong actor he was."
Bevell described Lynch's comedy material as "raw, yet wonderfully sweet. … Most of his material came from observations of his family life.
"He was a stay-at-home dad. He was a big guy who made fun of his body."
Last month, Lynch out-punch-lined dozens of others over an eight-week competition to claim the inaugural "Best Comedian Ever" crown at the Joke Joint Comedy Club in Lilydale.
In an interview with City Pages last month, Lynch said, "I've always considered myself an actor over a comedian, but doing that first open mike really made me think like, 'This is another aspect of performing that's really fun.' I still act, but it's more passion projects than anything."
On Nov. 19 and 23, he got his first headlining sets when he worked the House of Comedy at the Mall of America.
"He was one of the first local comics I got to know," said House of Comedy's sales manager Reidun Saxerud, who was introduced to Lynch during her days as floor manager. "I can't tell you how many rave reviews I got from customers."
Saxerud described his style as "the epitome of Minnesota culture. We are always about self-deprecating humor. He was the ultimate Minnesota guy without the Fargo accent. … I don't know if he identified this as his home club, but he was definitely very popular here."