Richard Lewis (comedian)

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Richard Lewis
Birth name Richard Philip Lewis
Born (1947-06-29) June 29, 1947 (age 67)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Medium Stand-up, television, film
Nationality American
Years active 1971–present
Genres Black comedy, surreal humor
Subject(s) Self-deprecation, neuroticism, psychotherapy, hypochondria, paranoia, depression, human sexuality, Jewish culture, pop culture, family
Influences Buster Keaton, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, [1] Jonathan Winters, David Brenner
Influenced Kevin Richard, Artie Lange[2] Paul Rothbart[3]
Spouse Joyce Lapinsky (January 2005 – present)
Notable works and roles Marty Gold in Anything But Love
Himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm

Richard Philip Lewis (born June 29, 1947) is an American comedian and actor.

Early life[edit]

Lewis was born in Brooklyn, New York City, and was raised in Englewood, New Jersey. His father worked as a caterer and his mother was an actress. Lewis is Jewish.[4][5] He later attended The Ohio State University and was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.


Lewis began performing stand-up comedy in the 1970s. He worked as a copywriter for an ad agency by day, while honing his stand-up act at night. The ad agency was named Contemporary Graphics (now defunct) and was located above Lovey's pizzeria in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Lewis gained popularity in the 1980s with numerous appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and his own television specials on HBO. He starred with Jamie Lee Curtis in the ABC sitcom Anything But Love which ran for four seasons. He co-starred with Don Rickles on the short-lived Daddy Dearest. He had a recurring role on the Showtime series Rude Awakening, as Rabbi Richard Glass on the dramatic series 7th Heaven, and appeared on the Tales from the Crypt episode "Whirlpool". Lewis has written comic articles for magazines such as Playboy, and endorsed the popular early-1990s beverage, Boku, as well as Snapple and Certs breath mints. In 2007 he made a cameo appearance as Phillip, the school counselor of Max's school, in the T.V Series George Lopez. Recently he also made cameos in Everybody Hates Chris as an old man in the hospital bed next to Chris Rock and as Charlie Sheen's accountant in Two and a Half Men.

Lewis has also achieved moderate success in films, appearing as Prince John in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, as a frontier doctor in Wagons East!, as an unemployed actor in Once Upon A Crime and as himself in the film The Wrong Guys. He played the lead role of Jimmy Epstein in the dramatic film Drunks and in the 1999 comedy Game Day. He also appeared in the dramatic pictures Leaving Las Vegas, Hugo Pool and The Maze. He made his acting debut in the 1977 TV movie mockumentary Diary of a Young Comic.

On January 9, 2001, Lewis visited The Howard Stern Show to promote his book The Other Great Depression, which described his recovery from alcoholism. Richard has been sober since August 4 1994.

He had a frequent recurring role as a character based on himself on Larry David's critically acclaimed Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO. Lewis and David met at summer camp in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York when they were thirteen.[6]

He is #45 on Comedy Central's list of 100 Greatest Standups of All Time.[7]

"The ______ from hell"[edit]

Lewis claims to be the originator of the phrase "The ______ from hell" as in "the date from hell" or "the roommate from hell". This theory is expounded in the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "The Nanny". Lewis has petitioned the editors of Bartlett's to be given credit for the coinage, but the editors claim that the phrase was a common idiom prior to Lewis's use of it.[8] For example, during World War I, kilted Scottish soldiers were given the nickname "The Ladies from Hell" (translation of German "Die Damen aus der Hölle") by German troops. However, the Yale Book of Quotations does attribute the phrase to Lewis.[9][10] It is not known whether this attribution was partly or completely a result of Lewis' petitioning them.


Lewis is noted for always wearing an all-black outfit.[11] and Converse sneakers. During his routines, he commonly places his right hand on his forehead, then stretches it outward as he makes his point. He also performs with long pieces of paper with notes on them, refers to the notes, then extemporaneously delivers his material.


  1. ^ Interview with Bill Zehme, Richard Lewis: Concerts from Hell: The Vintage Years, Image Entertainment, Released 2005-09-13
  2. ^ Kirschling, Gregory (2008-11-07). "Artie Lange: 'F--- It, I'll Write a Book'". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Firestone, Jay (2008-03-13). "Richard Lewis, comedian from heaven". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2010-06-23. "But his sense of disconnect could just as easily be attributed to his Jewish upbringing in New Jersey." 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Inside Media: Top TV Stars in Their Own Words / Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry David On Richard Lewis
  7. ^
  8. ^ Flamm, Matthew. Between the Lines. 60 Minutes. 11-01-2002. Retrieved on December 28, 2006
  9. ^ Yale Press Log: Yale Gives Richard Lewis Hell, 2006-10-11. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
  10. ^ Zwicky, Arnold. Language Log: Yet Another Snowclone Omnibus, 2007-08-11. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
  11. ^ Fine, Marshall. "Richard Lewis: The Metamorphosis," The New York Observer, February 25, 2007.

External links[edit]