Photo Credit: AllinLewis
Richard Lewis

“I was the baby of the family, and I’m still convinced I was a mistake,” comedian Richard Lewis told The Wall Street Journal 10 years ago, on the occasion of publishing his autobiographical DVD, “Bundle of Nerves.” Lewis’s earlier autobiographical work was titled, “The Other Great Depression: How I’m overcoming, on a daily basis, at least a million addictions and disfunctions and finding a spiritual (sometimes) life.”

He was born in Brooklyn and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, in a non-religious Jewish family with siblings who were 6 and 9 years older. His father was the co-owner of Ambassador Caterers in Teaneck, and his mother was an actress in community theatre.


He started out in 1971, in the Village, and for five decades has been performing his uniquely dark, confessional, and self-deprecating standup act that revealed his neuroses, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia. He was soon discovered by legendary Jewish standup comic David Brenner, who helped him appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where he remained a frequent guest. Years later he also appeared as a regular in Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” as one of Larry’s close friends and mock rivals.

Lewis is listed among the pioneers of the new age of standup comedy, alongside Robert Klein, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, Richard Belzer, and Elayne Boosler.

Lewis met Joyce Lapinsky, his future wife, during a Ringo Starr album release celebration in 1998. Their engagement took place in 2004, followed by their marriage the subsequent year.

In April 2023, Lewis announced he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he would no longer perform stand-up comedy. He then appeared in season 12 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which is currently airing on HBO.

Lewis died of a heart attack on Wednesday, at the age of 76.


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