Richard Lewis, stand-up comedian and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ star, dies at 76

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Comic Richard Lewis constructed a profession on making himself a punchline, however in HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” sincerity was his specialty.

As a fictionalized model of himself, Lewis usually injected the long-running cynical comedy with healthful traces in regards to the decades-long friendship he shared with co-star Larry David. “After I die, I need you to know the way a lot I care about you,” Lewis tells David in a minor squabble about his will throughout the present’s ultimate season. “You’re my finest buddy.”

For greater than 20 years, Lewis — usually showing in his signature darkish clothes and spherical sun shades — channeled his bond with David and his self-deprecating humor to grow to be a beloved fixture on the comedy traditional. Lewis died Tuesday “peacefully at his house in Los Angeles.” He was 76.

Lewis’ publicist Jeff Abraham confirmed to The Occasions that the comic died after struggling a coronary heart assault. “His spouse, Joyce Lapinsky, thanks everybody for all of the love, friendship and assist and asks for privateness at the moment,” Abraham mentioned.

HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is simply part of Lewis’ legacy, which included a stand-up comedy profession spanning a long time, a memoir about his sobriety and appearances in Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Males in Tights” and “Leaving Las Vegas.”

In April 2023, Lewis detailed his Parkinson’s illness prognosis, which derailed his decades-long stand-up comedy profession. “After 50 years nearly, I’m gonna simply name it quits,” he mentioned on the time.

“R.I.P. to a real unique @TheRichardLewis,” comic Invoice Burr wrote on X (previously Twitter). “A completely fearless comic who did and mentioned what he wished.”

“His comedic brilliance, wit and expertise have been unmatched,” HBO mentioned in an announcement shared with Selection. “Richard will all the time be a cherished member of the HBO and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ households, our heartfelt condolences exit to his household, mates and all of the followers who might depend on Richard to brighten their days with laughter.”

Lewis started his profession in his 20s acting at New York’s Improv and was taken beneath the wing of David Brenner, who was often known as the king of observational comedy. He discovered his footing in darkish comedy, bringing his struggles with alcoholism, drug dependancy and his damaged household to the stage.

“It’s nice to be right here, it’s nice to be in a metropolis meaning extra to me than my household, fairly frankly,” he mentioned to welcome audiences throughout a set in 1990.

Aptly often known as the “Prince of Ache,” Lewis wasn’t shy about letting audiences find out about his afflictions. His TV specials performed into this persona, together with “I’m Doomed,” “I’m In Ache,” “I’m Exhausted,” previous his days on “Curb.”

Lewis gained reputation following appearances on a number of exhibits together with “Late Night time with David Letterman” and “The Howard Stern Present” within the ‘80s and ‘90s. Earlier than he was on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2000, Lewis appeared as a fictionalized model of himself in “Diary of a Younger Comedian,” a TV film in regards to the L.A. comedy scene, and movies “That’s Satisfactory,” “As soon as Upon a Crime…” and “Sport Day.”

In “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Lewis is a loyal buddy to David, consistently going alongside together with his petty grievances in opposition to these round him. Nevertheless, in actual life, that friendship took time. Lewis and David first met as preteens in a childhood sports activities camp, Lewis mentioned in a 2023 interview with the Spectator. “I disliked him intensely. He was cocky, he was smug,” he mentioned.

“We have been arch rivals. I couldn’t await the camp to be over simply to get away from Larry. I’m positive he felt the identical method,” he mentioned.

Reconnecting within the New York comedy scene years later, Lewis and David gave friendship one other shot — paving the best way for many years of on-screen bickering and memorable exchanges.

“Richard and I have been born three days aside in the identical hospital and for many of my life he’s been like a brother to me,” David mentioned in an announcement shared with the Related Press. “He had that uncommon mixture of being the funniest particular person and likewise the sweetest. However immediately he made me sob and for that I’ll by no means forgive him.”

Lewis additionally appeared in 2012’s “Vamps” and 2014’s “She’s Humorous That Means,” in addition to the TV sequence “Something However Love,” “Daddy Dearest,” “Hiller and Diller,” “seventh Heaven,” “’Til Loss of life” and “Blunt Discuss.”

“I went into this for psychological causes,” Lewis advised The Occasions in 2014. “My household — it wasn’t an abusive household — they meant nicely, however they have been in their very own world.”

Lewis grew up in New York and his father died at a younger age. He mentioned he felt remoted by his mom and disconnected from his two siblings: His sister had 4 youngsters earlier than Lewis turned 19. He additionally had a brother, whom he mentioned “was off within the Village studying ‘Howl’ on the road corners.”

He started his stand-up profession after graduating from Ohio State College in 1969. He entered the comedy circuit across the similar time that Jay Leno, Freddie Prinze and Billy Crystal did.

“I used to be 23, and all kinds of individuals have been coming out and in and watching me, like Steve Allen and Bette Midler. David Brenner actually took me beneath his wing. To drive house to my little dump in New Jersey usually realizing that Steve Allen mentioned, ‘You bought it,’ that validation saved me entering into an enormous, large method,” Lewis mentioned.

As he wrote in “The Different Nice Despair: How I’m Overcoming on a Every day Foundation at Least a Million Addictions and Dysfunctions and Discovering a Non secular (Generally) Life,” Lewis was 44 when he was hospitalized after affected by a deadly mixture of alcohol and medicines. He determined to get sober in 1995, which in keeping with his biography, he was “particularly grateful for.”

In 2015, he printed his second e book, “Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis’ Information On How Not To Stay,” together with his longtime buddy, artist Carl Nicholas Titolo, who offered the illustrations.

Stars together with “Every day Present” host Jon Stewart, Albert Brooks and Jamie Lee Curtis, comic Paul Feig and “Curb” co-star Ben Stiller paid tribute to Lewis, remembering his contributions to the comedy scene.

“RIP Richard Lewis. A brilliantly humorous man who will missed by all. The world wanted him now greater than ever,” wrote “Curb” co-star Brooks.

“Sleep nicely Richard…I’ll attempt to take excellent care of our face,” movie star lookalike Stewart tweeted.

Curtis, who led the TV sequence “Something however Love” with Lewis, shared two tributes on Instagram, remembering the “deep and freaking humorous comic.”

“He is also the explanation I’m sober. He helped me. I’m endlessly grateful for him for the act of grace alone,” she wrote. “He discovered love with Joyce and that, in fact, in addition to his sobriety, is what mattered most to him. I’m weeping as I write this.”

“I by no means met a kinder, extra empathetic comedy genius. He was so humorous. And deep,” tweeted actor-director Ben Stiller, who mentioned Lewis was a buddy to him and his mother and father, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. “As a child i bear in mind seeing him on the Improv and the way good he was to me and my sister. Through the years he would all the time attain out with assist and love or a sort phrase – typically out of the blue. It all the time felt particular to listen to from him. I really feel very fortunate to have identified him over all these years. I’m unhappy I received’t see him once more.”

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