Lewis has taken his lifelong therapy fodder and carved it into a compelling art form. With tenacity and a love for his profession, Richard is proud to be entering his 50th year in show business. He’s used his personal struggles through an anxiety provoking childhood, through alcoholism and other addictions and his deep need to overcome the early passing of his father who never had the chance to see his son perform.
In general, he felt an alienation that fueled his creative talents that connect with so many others who appreciate his honesty. His early career as a standup brought him to the top of his ranks and that brought with it the apropos nickname, “The Prince of Pain.”
Over time, and through a variety of mediums, the exposure to his work broadened, and more devotees came along for the ride.
The NY Times said, “This renowned comedian, often considered to be the heir to Lenny Bruce, is a master of long form storytelling who turns his endless neurotic energy into brilliant comedy.”
has recognized Mr. Lewis as one of the top 50 standup comedians of
all time and he was charted on GQ Magazine's list of the '20th Century's
Most Influential Humorists'. In December of 1989, Lewis achieved a
very personal goal...he performed at Carnegie Hall to a
In his book, “Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis' Guide on How Not to Live”, he collaborated with longtime friend and patron of his, the extraordinary NY artist, the late Carl Nicholas Titolo. Titolo puts his genius to Lewis’ wildly warped and often profound musings, which turned into a dream team of "poignant craziness." Larry David, Lewis' lifelong friend and a patron to the artist, contributed a mind-blowing foreword.
Lewis released a 2 DVD box set, “A Bundle of Nerves”, a montage of his creative cross section spanning 40 years. It includes a vintage comedy special recorded at the Bottomline, ”Magical Misery Tour”; the dramatic film, “Drunks”, as the lead; a made-for-TV film that Lewis co-wrote and starred in, “Diary of a Young Comic”, that aired in the SNL time slot; and a documentary film with Lewis taking us on an intimate tour of his beloved home and collection of artifacts and art from generations of those who have inspired him.
Lewis loves being an integral part of HBO’s "Curb Your Enthusiasm” and is more than elated he’ll be back for a tenth season! In its eighth season, the Curb cast was nominated for a SAG Award, with
Through the years
Richard has received much kudos for his work alongside his buddy,
Larry David. The New York Times commentedthat, "...not nearly
enough of Richard Lewis, whose job is the hardest of all because his
character must truly suffer and endure in a context where
The Los Angeles
Times added, "… But it's comedian Richard Lewis, himself
famous for an act built on despair who memorably sulks his way through
a pair of early episodes as one of the fewpeople in the business who
can match David hang-up for hang-up, neurosis for
Still, after all
these years, Lewis remains addicted to performing before live audiences
and is on a continuous “Tracks of My Fears” stand up tour.
In live performance he is often compared to ajazz musician for his
wild riffs that fly out into space but always finds a way to float
back intorhythm as they splatter recurring themes against a spiraling,
lyrical backdrop. In a piece comparing comedy and jazz, Howard Reich
of the Chicago Tribune noted, “In Lenny Bruce's fantasy, celebrated
writers would say: "This guy is the greatest jazz sound in the
world he's so hip, his name is Lenny Bruce.' "To this day, Bruce's
foremost heir -- comedian Richard Lewis -conveys the lightning energy
of a solo by bebop icon Charlie Parker." A N.Y. Post article
noted,"Richard Lewis built the strongest standup comedy career
on a blazing trail of neuroses since
Another time Reich
reflected on his history with Lewis. "Nearly 20 years ago…
I headed for Zanies and witnessed the most audacious comic wordsmith
this side of Lenny Bruce: a young neurotic comedian named Richard
Lewis. Ever since that revelatory evening, I've followed Richard's
ascent as perhaps the most gifted comedian of his generation."
Indeed, others agree. The Baltimore Jewish Times said, "Lewis
is oftentimes compared to the late Lenny Bruce, the prolific, dissenting
comedic voice of the '60's. And the two share many things in common,
Judaism, an uncommon intelligence and irreverence for topics considered
untouchable. Like Bruce, Mr. Lewis lays his soul bare on the stage,
with fearlessness and many times, recklessness..."City Weekly
of Salt Lake City concurred, "Nowhere will you find an entertainer
so committed to
At Mort Sahl’s
birthday tribute, featuring a who's who of comic genius, Mark Groubert,
writer for Crooksandliars.com, commented, "But this Night at
the Opera belonged to none other than Richard Lewis who has hit his
comic stride entering the free form worlds of both Lenny Bruce and
Philadelphia's City Paper says, "Indeed, he is the Jimi Hendrix of monologists, whose virtuoso freeform riffs on girlfriends, family and other antagonistic denizens from hell are delivered in a mesmerizing, stream-of-consciousness frenzy, a piss-yourself laughing assault on the senses. Not only is he one of the undisputed masters of post-modern comedy, but also to incurable, self-loathing neurotics he is a patron saint who deserves to be canonized".
Vintage Lewis is available in the box set of his “Concerts from Hell” (The Vintage Years), containing three comedy specials: HBO originally aired "I'm Exhausted," earning him an ACE nomination for Best Standup Comedy Special and “I'm Doomed”, his second for HBO, also earned an Ace nomination. His cable special debut, "I'm In Pain" had aired on Showtime. Playboy magazine said, "Kvetching is elevated to surreal art in these great comedy performances. The titles say it all. Don't miss."
Lewis’ memoir, "The Other Great Depression," published by the prestigious Perseus/Public Affairs, is as brave, insightful and forthcoming as is his comedy. He deconstructs his substance abuse andrecovery, skewing it in his unique way. The book is a collection of fearless essay style riffs, featuring Lewis' dark stream-of-consciousness personal observations. The reissue of “The Other Great Depression” is on audiobook and read unabridged by the author for Phoenix Audio.
The Huffington Post said this of the book: "Other than Lewis's paperback catharsis, which probably belongs in the alienated, dyspeptic JewishAmerican canon along with Philip Roth, Henry Roth, Lenny Bruce, and all the rest, comedians' memoirs tend to be pretty breezy--and very short-reads...” New York Magazine said,"Lewis's standard of total honesty has allowed him to unearth neuroses he'd never even touch onstage or on the couch." Entertainment Weekly added, “[An] urgent, nervous, heartfelt book...”. Lewis writes with an addict’s jumpy restlessness, staggering from hurt to hurt, from tensely jokey confession to confession, from twitchy spiritual discovery to discovery.” USA Today wrote, “Candid and inspirational.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer noted, “"Lewis” has narrative gifts few celebrity authors exhibit.” Richard Lewis Naked”, a documentary by Michelle Marx, follows Richard behind the scenes on a promotional book and concert tour. (Available on Amazon.)
Lewis has been
a contributing writer for Playboy Magazine, writing numerous pieces
over the years and has penned many articles for numerous publications
over the years. He has been featured, mentioned and has contributed
to countless books including, “I’m Dying Up Here”,
Mr. Lewis has appeared in numerous film and television roles. His first defining film role was in “Leaving Las Vegas”, which set the stage and led to his first major dramatic role as the lead character, Jimmy Epstein, an addict fighting for his life in the indie film, “Drunks”, along with a brilliant cast that includesDianne Weist, Faye Dunaway and Amanda Plummer. Built around an AA meeting, he received rave reviews. He also starred in the multi-generationally beloved, Mel Brooks film, “Robin Hood Men in Tights.”
With scores of
diverse guest appearances in TV series and films, the closest to his
heart was his four-year run ABC's critically acclaimed series "Anything
But Love," co-starring with Jamie Lee Curtis. Late night TV viewers
and media junkies in general are familiar with his frequent guest
Regarded by his peers as a ‘comic’s comic’, Lewis’ neuroses have become part of our vernacular as in the now iconic phrase, “I had a date from Hell!” He got his due when the Yale Book of Quotations attributed the now-common phrase, “the [blank] from hell” to Mr. Lewis is 2006.
Richard is especially grateful for being sober for over 25 years, for having 14 years of a beautiful marriage to Joyce Lapinsky and life with their rescue pup, Bella Luna.
In Richard’s own words, “I go on a long tour and make people happy that they’re not me, and then they go home.”