Barry Crimmins

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Barry Crimmins
Barry Crimmins 2017.jpg
Crimmins performing in January 2017
Barry Francis Crimmins[1]

(1953-07-03)July 3, 1953
DiedFebruary 28, 2018(2018-02-28) (aged 64)
OccupationPolitical satirist, comedian, activist
Years active1971–2018
Home townBoston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Spouse(s)Helen Crimmins

Barry Francis Crimmins (July 3, 1953 – February 28, 2018) was an American stand-up comedian, political satirist, activist, author, Air America Radio writer and correspondent, and comedy club owner.

Early life[edit]

Crimmins was born in Kingston, New York, to Margaret Hooe and Phillip "Phil" Crimmins, a traveling salesman.[1][2] When he was six, his family moved to Skaneateles, New York.[3]

After graduating from high school in 1971, he started performing stand-up comedy at Under the Stone and later moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to pursue his comedic career.[3]


Crimmins founded two comedy clubs, The Ding Ho and Stitches, in the 1980s in Boston.[4][5] His productions there included performances by comedians Steven Wright, Paula Poundstone, Bobcat Goldthwait, Kevin Meaney, Jimmy Tingle and many others.[6][7]

Crimmins' satirical writing and comedy routines focused on the need for political and social change.[8] In the 1990s, in a more serious vein, he led a crusade against images of child abuse on the Internet, calling for police investigation of Internet service providers.[9] He received the "Peace Leadership Award" from Boston Mobilization for Survival, and was honored by Community Works with the "Artist for Social Change Award" for his years of activism.[10] Howard Zinn presented him with "The Courage of Conscience Award" from Wellesley College and The Life Experience School at The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts.[11]

Crimmins with Bobcat Goldthwait in May 2015

Crimmins was featured on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron in 2013, discussing his personal life and career as a political activist and his role in the Boston comedy scene.[12] In 2016, between performances in London, he appeared on Stuart Goldsmith's podcast The Comedian's Comedian.[13]

Crimmins was featured in a number of film and television appearances, including When Stand Up Stood Out (2003), The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1988–1989), and The Young Comedians All-Star Reunion (1986). He released two albums: Strange Bedfellows on A&M Records and Kill the Messenger on Green Linnet. His articles were regularly published in the Boston Phoenix[14][15] among other publications.[16]

Crimmins's life and work in comedy and politics were the subjects of a documentary entitled Call Me Lucky (2015) directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.[17]

On June 4, 2016, Crimmins shot a special, Whatever Threatens You, in Lawrence, Kansas for Louis C.K.'s production company Pig Newton.[18]


Crimmins was an anti-pedophilia activist.[19] He survived sexual abuse as a child.[20] He began to expose online pedophilia in the 1990s, when he lived in Lakewood, Ohio.[20] He spent hours in AOL chat rooms devoted to exposing predators, posing as a 12-year-old boy named "Sean".[20]

In 1995, after turning his evidence over to the FBI, he testified before Congress in 1995 about pedophilia on the internet, and how child pornography laws needed to be enforced.[20][19] AOL eventually shut down the chat rooms dedicated to pedophilia and child pornography.[20]

In 2016, Crimmins endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States during the 2016 presidential election.[21]

In 2017, in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, Crimmins voiced support of the movement and called for increased awareness of harassment in the workplace.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Crimmins was married to Helen Crimmins (née Lysen), a photographer and font designer in August 2017 in Chicago.[23] They resided in Syracuse, New York.[24] In January 2018, he was diagnosed with cancer and described the prognosis as "not very good".[24] A few months earlier, Helen was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[24]


Crimmins died of cancer on February 28, 2018, in Syracuse at the age of 64. His wife Helen reported his death from his Twitter account on March 1, saying, "Barry passed peacefully yesterday with Bobcat and I. He would want everyone to know that he cared deeply about mankind and wants you to carry on the good fight. Peace."[19]



  1. ^ a b Schudel, Matt (2 March 2018). "Barry Crimmins, comedian who transformed childhood trauma into advocacy, dies at 64". The Washington Post.
  2. ^, David Wilcox. "From Skaneateles to Sundance: Comedian Barry Crimmins' story of trailblazing, trauma told by new Bobcat Goldthwait documentary". Archived from the original on August 17, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Skaneateles comedian, activist Barry Crimmins dies". Auburn Pub. March 1, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  4. ^ "INTERVIEW: Barry Crimmins' last stand" Archived December 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Loaded Gun.
  5. ^ "For these two 'Un-Conventional' acts, politics is vocal" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. By Nick A. Zaino III. Boston Globe, July 11, 2004.
  6. ^ Turbovsky, Rob. "Steven Wright inducted into Hall, a city's comedy history celebrated". Punchline Magazine. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  7. ^ Baltrusis, Sam. "Steven Wright headlines Ding Ho reunion benefit". Archived from the original on September 19, 2009. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  8. ^ "Politics of Absurdism, Barry Crimmins Style" Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. The Heights, Boston College, March 26, 1990.
  9. ^ Philip Jenkins (July 1, 2003). Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet. NYU Press. pp. 147–. ISBN 978-0-8147-4263-1. Archived from the original on March 1, 2018.
  10. ^ Cassel, David. "Chat Room Chaperone: Barry Crimmins, who tracked AOL's child porn problem, isn't your typical online morality cop". Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  11. ^ "COURAGE OF CONSCIENCE AWARD RECIPIENTS 1988 – 2015". The Peace Abbey. Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  12. ^ "Episode 443 – Barry Crimmins". Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  13. ^ "The Comedian's Comedian – 184 – Barry Crimmins". October 31, 2016. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017.
  14. ^ "Barry Crimmins: Latest Articles". The Phoenix. Archived from the original on August 28, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  15. ^ "Author Archives: Barry Crimmins". Weekly Wire. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  16. ^ "Barry Crimmins". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  17. ^ "Bobcat Goldthwait shoots documentary about activist Barry Crimmins: Minister of Culture" Archived November 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  18. ^ "Louis CK to Produce Barry Crimmins Hour Special in June – The Interrobang". The Interrobang. May 17, 2016. Archived from the original on May 19, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  19. ^ a b c "Barry Crimmins, Comedian and Activist, Dead at 64". Rolling Stone. March 1, 2018. Archived from the original on March 1, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Barry Crimmins, the comedian and activist who helped protect children from online sexual predators when he lived in Lakewood in the 1990s, dies at 64". March 1, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  21. ^ Barry Crimmins [@crimmins] (21 Jan 2016). "Just heard reactionary, hedge-fund millionaire, hawk Clinton rip Bernie Sanders & so I now officially endorse Bernie for the Dem nomination" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ John, Tara. "Tons of Celebrities Are Joining Alyssa Milano's 'Me Too' Protest". Time. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  23. ^ "Barry Crimmins Ties the Knot in Chicago". The InterroBang. 10 August 2017.
  24. ^ a b c "Comedian Barry Crimmins from CNY Diagnosed with Cancer". February 20, 2018. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  25. ^ Mike Bent (July 18, 2009). The Everything Guide to Comedy Writing: From stand-up to sketch – all you need to succeed in the world of comedy. Everything Books. pp. 125–. ISBN 1-4405-0174-2. Archived from the original on March 1, 2018.

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