Home / News / Comedian Richard Lewis passed away at the age of 76

Comedian Richard Lewis passed away at the age of 76


NEW YORK – Richard Lewis, the acclaimed comedian known for exploring his neuroses with frenetic, stream-of-consciousness insults while wearing all black, leading to the nickname “Prince of Pain,” has died. He was 76 years old.

Lewis, who announced that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2023, died after suffering a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, according to journalist Jeff Abraham.

Lewis, who has performed regularly in clubs and on late-night television shows for decades, also played Marty Gold, the romantic co-lead opposite Jamie Lee Curtis on the ABC series “Anything But Love,” and the reliably neurotic Prince John in “Mel Brooks.” revived. Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” He reintroduced himself to a new generation by whining regularly alongside Larry David on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

“Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and he was like a brother to me,” David said in a statement. “He had the rare combination of being the funniest and also the sweetest person. But he made me cry today and I will never forgive him for that.”

Comedy Central named Lewis one of the top 50 stand-up comedians of all time, and GQ magazine named him one of the “Most Influential Humorists of the 20th Century.” He used his humor for charitable causes such as Comic Relief and Comedy Gives Back.

“Watching his stand-up is hilarious and often like participating in a dark therapy session,” the Los Angeles Times said in 2014. Philadelphia City Paper called him “the Jimi Hendrix of monologues.” Mel Brooks once said that he “might be the Franz Kafka of modern comedy.”

“I’m paranoid about everything in my life. Even at home. I have a rearview mirror on my stationary bike and it doesn’t excite me at all,” he once joked onstage. He told Jimmy Kimmel: “I tried to go to bed this morning. I could not sleep. “I counted the sheep, but I only had six and they all had hip replacements.”

Comedians took to social media on Wednesday to share their thoughts; this included Albert Books, who called Lewis “a tremendously funny man who will be missed by everyone.” “The world needed him now more than ever,” he shared on X (formerly Twitter). Other praise came from Bette Midler, Michael McKean and Paul Feig, who called Lewis “one of the funniest people on the planet.”

New York-born Lewis began his stand-up career after graduating from Ohio State University in 1969, honing his craft on tracks alongside fledgling contemporaries such as Jay Leno, Freddie Prinze and Billy Crystal.

He recalled that Rodney Dangerfield hired him for $75 for Dangerfield’s club in New York. “I had a lot of great friends who believed in me early on, and I met some pretty iconic people who really helped me, told me to keep working on my material. And I never looked back,” he told The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2010.

Unlike his contemporary Robin Williams, Lewis allowed the audience to enter his world and melancholy, pouring his pain and torment onto the stage. Fans compared him favorably to groundbreaking comedian Lenny Bruce.

Richard Lewis appears in pain in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. It looks like he

“I try very hard not to be mean-spirited,” Lewis told The Palm Beach Post in 2007. I stay away from this. This doesn’t seem funny to me. Tragedy is funny to other humorists, but not to me, unless you make a helpful point.”

Singer Billy Joel said he was referring to Lewis when he sang of an old friend who “bought tickets to the West Coast/Now he’s giving ’em a stand-up routine in Los Angeles” on “My Life.”

In 1989, he appeared at Carnegie Hall with twenty feet of yellow legal pages taped together and filled with material for a 2.5-hour set that prompted two standing ovations. He told The Washington Post in 2020 that the night was “the highlight of my career.”

70-year-old comedian Richard Lewis makes another comeback

Lewis told GQ that his signature look came about by accident, saying his obsession with wearing black stemmed from watching the television Western “Have Gun – Will Travel” as a child with a cowboy in all black. He also popularized the term “from hell” as in “date from hell” or “job from hell”.

“This slipped out of my mind one day, and for some reason I kept repeating it a lot. Same thing with black clothes. Since the early 80s I felt really comfortable and never wore anything else. “I never looked back.”

After getting sober from drugs and alcohol in 1994, Lewis published his memoirs “The Other Great Depression” and “Reflections from Hell” in 2008, a collection of fearless, essay-style quotes about his own life.

Lewis was the youngest of three siblings; his brother was six years older than him, and his sister was nine years older. His father died young and his mother had emotional problems. “He never understood me. I owe my career to my mother. I should have given him my management commission,” he told the Washington Post in 2020.

“Looking back now, as a full-blown, middle-aged, functional angst collector, I can admit without reservation that my parents had their share of tremendous qualities, yet as human beings for the most part of the day, they were more than just that, with a handful of flaws, too.” ” he wrote in his memoirs.

‘Reflections from Hell’: Richard Lewis on how not to live

Lewis quickly found a new family performing at the Improv in New York. “I was 23 and all kinds of people were coming in and out and watching me, like Steve Allen and Bette Midler. David Brenner definitely took me under his wing. “Going to my little dump in New Jersey knowing that Steve Allen said, ‘You got it,’ that validation kept me going down a very, very big path.”

He had a small role in “Leaving Las Vegas,” which led to his first major dramatic role as Jimmy Epstein, an addict fighting for his life, in the independent film “Drunks.” He played Don Rickles’ son in one season of “Daddy Dearest” and a rabbi in “7th Heaven.”

Lewis’ recurring role on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” can be directly attributed to his friendship with comedian, producer and TV star Larry David. Both Brooklynites, who were both born in the same Brooklyn hospital, first met while attending the same summer camp at the age of 13 and became friends as rivals. She had been cast from the beginning by arguing with David over unpaid bills and politeness.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce Lapinsky.


Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits.


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