Richard Lewis (comedian)

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Richard Lewis
Lewis looking to the camera
Lewis in 2013
Birth nameRichard Philip Lewis
Born (1947-06-29) June 29, 1947 (age 74)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
MediumStand-up, television, film
Years active1977–present
GenresDark comedy, surreal humor
Subject(s)Self-deprecation, neuroticism, psychotherapy, hypochondria, paranoia, depression, human sexuality, Jewish culture, pop culture, family, eating disorders
SpouseJoyce Lapinsky (m. 2005)
Notable works and rolesMarty Gold in Anything but Love
Himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm

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

He came to prominence in the 1980s as a comedian specializing in self-deprecating humor before turning to acting. He is also known for co-starring in the comedy series Anything but Love (1989–1992) and for his recurring role as a semi-fictionalized version of himself in HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–present).

Early life[edit]

Richard Lewis was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, where he graduated from Dwight Morrow High School in 1965.[1] His father worked as a caterer and his mother was an actress. The Lewises are Jewish[2] but not especially religious.[3] Lewis recalls teachers sometimes reacted badly to his antics as a class clown.[3]

Lewis attended Ohio State University, earning a BS in Business Administration, and where he was a member of the Eta chapter 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 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 is noted for always wearing an all-black outfit.[4]

Lewis made his screen acting debut in Diary of a Young Comic. He co-starred with Jamie Lee Curtis on the TV sitcom Anything but Love, which ran for four seasons, and with Don Rickles on Daddy Dearest. Lewis had a recurring role on Rude Awakening and as Rabbi Richard Glass on 7th Heaven. He appears in the Tales from the Crypt episode "Whirlpool". In 2007, he made a cameo appearance as Phillip on George Lopez. He also made cameos on Everybody Hates Chris as an old man in the hospital bed next to Chris Rock and as Charlie Sheen's accountant on Two and a Half Men.

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.

Lewis has 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 Wrong Guys. He plays the lead role of Jimmy Epstein in Drunks and in Game Day. Most of his performances are in comedy, but Lewis also appears in the dramatic films Leaving Las Vegas, Hugo Pool, and The Maze.

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

Lewis has a recurring role as a character based on himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David and Lewis met at summer camp in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York when they were 13.[5]

Lewis was ranked #45 on Comedy Central's list of "100 Greatest Standups of All Time".[6]

Lewis claims to be the originator of the phrase 'the ______ from hell' as in 'the night from hell', 'the date from hell" or 'the roommate from hell'. This theory is expounded in the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "The Nanny from Hell". Lewis has petitioned the editors of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations for credit for the coinage, but the editors claim the phrase was a common idiom before Lewis used it.[7] (For example, during World War I, German troops nicknamed kilted Scottish soldiers "Ladies from Hell" (Damen aus der Hölle), and John Russell Fearn's short story "The Man from Hell" was published in Fantastic Adventures in 1939.) However, The Yale Book of Quotations attributes the phrase to Lewis.[8][9]



Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Wrong Guys Himself
1989 That's Adequate Pimples Lapedes
1992 Once Upon a Crime Julian Peters
1993 Robin Hood: Men in Tights Prince John
1994 Wagons East Phil Taylor
1995 Drunks Jim
Leaving Las Vegas Peter
1996 The Elevator Phil Milowski
1997 Hugo Pool Chick Chicalini
The Maze Markov
1999 Game Day Steve Adler
2005 Sledge: The Untold Story Himself Mockumentary
2012 Vamps Danny Horowitz
2014 She's Funny That Way Al Patterson
2017 Sandy Wexler Testimonial
2018 The Great Buster: A Celebration Himself Documentary


Year Title Role Notes
1974–92 The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson Himself – Guest 22 episodes
1977 Diary of a Young Comic Billy Goldstein Television movie
1980 House Calls Dr. Leon Prometheus Episode: "The Phantom of Kensington"
1982–93 Late Night with David Letterman Himself – Guest 44 episodes
1985 Temporary Insanity Performer Television movie
1986 Riptide Andrew Fitzsimmons Carlton III Episode: "The Wedding Bell Blues"
1987 Harry Richard Breskin 7 episodes
CBS Summer Playhouse Joey Episode: "King of the Building"
1988 Tattingers Longo Episode : "Death and Taxis"
1989–92 Anything But Love Marty Gold 56 episodes
1992 The Danger of Love Edward Sanders Television movie
1993 Daddy Dearest Steven Mitchell 13 episodes
TriBeCa Joseph Episode: "Stepping Back"
The Larry Sanders Show Himself Episode: "Life Behind Larry"
1993–2008 Late Show with David Letterman Himself – Guest 9 episodes
1994 Tales from the Crypt Vern Episode: "Whirlpool"
1995–2008 Late Night with Conan O'Brien Himself – Guest 12 episodes
1995 A.J.'s Time Travelers Edgar Allan Poe Episode: "Edgar Allan Poe"
1996 A Weekend in the Country Bobby Stein Television movie
Nichols and May: Take Two Himself Documentary Special, PBS
1996–2015 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Himself 16 episodes
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Old Beggar (voice) Episode: "The Golden Goose"
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Richard (voice) Episode: "Undercover"
1997–98 Hiller and Diller Neil Diller 13 episodes
1998 Rude Awakening Harve Schwartz 6 episodes
1999 Hercules Neurosis (voice) Episode: "Hercules and the Tiff on Olympus"
V.I.P. Ronald Zane Episode: "Big Top Val"
Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself Television movie - Pilot
2000–present Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself 40 episodes
2002 Presidio Med Francis Weinod Episode: "Once Upon a Family"
2002–04 7th Heaven Rabbi Richard Glass 9 episodes
2003 Alias Mitchell Yaeger Episode: "A Dark Turn"
2004 Two and a Half Men Stan Episode: "I Can't Afford Hyenas"
The Dead Zone Jack Jericho Episode: "The Cold Hard Truth"
2005 Las Vegas Stan Episode: "Fake the Money and Run"
George Lopez Phillip Nickleson Episode: "George Finds Therapy Benny-ficial"
2006 The Simpsons Golem (voice) Episode: "Treehouse of Horror XVII"
Everybody Hates Chris Kris Episode: "Everybody Hates Kris"
2007 Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project Himself Documentary, PBS
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sportsman Larry (voice) Episode: "Closet"
2009 The Cleaner Henry Episode: "Trick Candles"
2010 Funny or Die Presents Shades (voice) Episode: #1.10
'Til Death Miles Tunnicliff 3 episodes
2011 Lewis on Film: The Oscar Edition Performer Short
Pound Puppies Buddy (voice) Episode: "Rebel Without a Collar"
2013 Mel Brooks: Make Some Noise Himself Documentary Special, PBS
2015 Blunt Talk Dr. Weiss 6 episodes
2016 Code Black Stewart Gough Episode: "Hero Complex"
2018 BoJack Horseman Ziggy Abler (voice) Episode: "Head in the Clouds"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1989 CableACE Award Writing a Comedy Special The I'm Exhausted Concert Nominated [10]
1991 Viewers for Quality Television Best Actor - Quality Comedy Series Anything but Love Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm Nominated


  1. ^ Condran, Ed. "Richard Lewis: All Grown Up; Veteran comedian Richard Lewis insists he wasn't raised in New Jersey, he was, 'lowered in New Jersey.'", New Jersey Monthly, October 20, 2015. Accessed August 27, 2018. "Richard Lewis came of age in Englewood, but the veteran comic insists he wasn’t raised. in New Jersey. Rather, he quips, 'I was lowered in New Jersey.' Still, the 68-year-old actor/comedian, a 1965 graduate of Dwight Morrow High School, has a soft spot for the town of his youth."
  2. ^ Firestone, Jay (2008-03-13). "Richard Lewis, comedian from heaven". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 2010-06-23. But his sense of disconnect could just as easily be attributed to his Jewish upbringing in New Jersey.
  3. ^ a b Sher, Cindy (October 4, 2012). "Veteran comics Susie Essman and Richard Lewis to bring the laughs to JUF's Vanguard Nov. 5". Jewish United Fund. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  4. ^ Fine, Marshall (February 25, 2007). "Richard Lewis: The Metamorphosis". The New York Observer.
  5. ^ Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry David On Richard Lewis (Paley Center, 2002). YouTube. 10 December 2008. Archived from the original on 2021-11-18.
  6. ^ "Comedy Central 100 Greatest Standups of all Time".
  7. ^ Flamm, Matthew (November 1, 2002). "Between the Lines". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2009-07-18. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
  8. ^ Yale Press Log: Yale Gives Richard Lewis Hell Archived 2008-06-03 at the Wayback Machine, 2006-10-11. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
  9. ^ Zwicky, Arnold. Language Log: Yet Another Snowclone Omnibus, 2007-08-11. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
  10. ^ "Richard Lewis".

External links[edit]