Born: June 29, 1947
Blue Meter: Tame

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Who’s Funnier


Next Tour Date

Friday | December 1
Cobb’s Comedy Club
San Francisco, CA

See all Richard Lewis's tour dates



2001Live From Hell
1996Comic Relief VII

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

1992Comic Relief V

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

1990The Best Of Comic Relief '90

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

1989Best of Comic Relief, Vol. 3

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

1987Best of Comic Relief, Vol. 2

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

Specials (and other video)

2008Richard Lewis Naked: Behind The Seen

Documentary of Richard Lewis while on his book tour.

2005The Aristocrats
1996The Magical Misery Tour
1995Comic Relief VII

Benefit show that features multiple comics.

1992The A-List
1991The 14th Annual Young Comedians Special
1990Richard Lewis: I'm Doomed
1989Comic Relief III

Benefit show that features multiple comics.

1988Richard Lewis: I'm Exhausted
1987Comic Relief '87

Benefit show that features multiple comics.

1985Richard Lewis: I'm in Pain
1981The 6th Annual Young Comedians Special
1979Diary of a Young Comic

TV movie featuring Richard Lewis playing a stand-up pursuing his unique act

Books (by and about)

2015Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis' Guide On How Not To Live
2002The Other Great Depression


Brooklyn-born Richard Lewis grew up in Englewood, New Jersey. His less-than-nurturing relationship with his distant parents became sources of frustration and later, comedy, for him.

Lewis first taste of show business was as a victim of the Allen Funt-helmed Candid Camera. In the prank, he took an aptitude test that ultimately concluded his ideal profession was as a shepherd.

At age twelve he met future comedian Larry David at summer camp. The pair would become lifelong friends/adversaries.

Lewis attended Ohio State, graduating with a degree in marketing.

While working as a copy-writer, Lewis would occasionally write lines for other comics to perform. After his father’s death, it sparked in him the need to attempt performing himself.  In 1971, he first began to perform stand-up in the New York clubs, counting among his contemporaries David Letterman, Andy Kaufman, Billy Crystal and, of course, Larry David.

Early in his career, Lewis met the already-successful comedian David Brenner, who became a trusted “older brother” figure to Lewis. Brenner would advise Lewis on when he was ready for the next steps of his career and help him get gigs.

As a stand-up, Lewis was influenced by the neurotic persona and one-liners of Woody Allen.  The comics also felt a kinship with the manic, angst-ridden energy of Lenny Bruce.

Lewis played a stand-up in the made-for-TV movie “Diary of a Young Comic” in 1979. He also co-wrote the film.

Lewis performed his first hour for Showtime in 1985 with the special “I’m in Pain.” He followed up his hour with a new hour for HBO with a similar title, “I’m Exhausted.” The next HBO special followed a similar pattern. It was titled “I’m Doomed.”

Lewis claims credit for popularizing the phrase “the ______ from hell.” He’s cited for the phrase in the Yale Book of Quotations, but Bartlett’s disputes his ownership of it, claiming it was in common usage prior to Lewis.

In 1989, Lewis stared on the sitcom “Anything But Love” with Jamie Lee Curtis. The show ran for four seasons. The show helped make him a household name outside of stand-up circles.

In 1994, after years of being an alcoholic, Lewis gave up drinking. Both drink and drugs help fuel his performances early in career, but Lewis believes the clarity he has now has made him an even better performer, allowing his material to be more honest.

2000 saw the release of Lewis’ autobiography “The Other Great Depression.” The book details much of the neurosis and compulsions that drove Lewis’ life.

Regularly playing himself on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm brought out a whole new fan base to discover the comedian. In 2005, he reissued his first three hour specials together on a DVD collection entitled “Concerts From Hell - The Vintage Years” A long interview on his life and career is a special feature included with the collection.

Lewis has been a regular on David Letterman’s late night programs since 1982, making over 60 appearances.