For more than 40 years, comedian Richard Lewis has delivered copious amounts of stand-up routines in cities around the country.
Lewis, the neurotic funny man known to wear all black all the time, ironically became a comedian.
“I was always judged by my parents, so I picked a career where I am always judged,” Lewis said.
On his trademark black clothing he explained, “I look like a shadow, so it makes me feel comfortable to think nobody is watching me in case I am not funny.”
Lewis made his rise to fame mostly in stand-up but also in guest appearances on talk shows and popular sitcoms.
Guesting on over 100 talk shows, most noticeably “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Howard Stern Show,” Lewis said he continues to make appearances because he doesn’t turn anything down, especially shows where he always has an open door.
“I am more likely to be seen from one appearance on Jimmy’s (Fallon) show than performing stand-up in Phoenix to a sold out audience for over 30 years. I’m publicizing myself,” Lewis said.
Lewis owes a lot of his recent career to his life-long friend and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” co-star, Larry David.
Back when they were 12 years old, David and Lewis hated each other, Lewis said. They never got along, and Lewis said his now-best friend was a jerk.
It wasn’t until 13 years later that they reconnected.
“We became best friends around the time I was getting into drugs and alcohol. I was a comedian, and Larry was a fan,” Lewis said.
Lewis, now 18 years sober, said David helped him achieve sobriety and came to his house in 2000 to offer a role in David’s show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” as himself.
“It was a great thing for my career, and I am eternally grateful for the guy, but I was reluctant for a minute because I had to play myself,” Lewis said.
Lewis accepted the job on one condition: He didn’t want to be on just one episode.
“No cameos. I had to be on the show for real,” he said.
Lewis said he doesn’t know if the cult show will be back for a ninth season, though he would love to be back, and he would never ask David if the show will return because he gets easily annoyed like his character.
“I can annoy him lightning speed. I think that is why I was hired,” Lewis said.
Whatever happens, Lewis said he would continue to do stand-up, though he said he has no interest in having his own talk show.
“I would love to continue to act and possibly write a dramatic play before I am out of this business,” he said. “When I am done I will always be known as a comedian. The other stuff is just extra. I am proud to be a stand-up comic.”
Lewis has coined his most popular joke “the (blank) from hell” which has been picked up in the “Yale Book of Quotations” and got its own episode on season two of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Lewis made the joke popular when he started his stand-up gig referencing a bad dentist calling him “the dentist from hell” and changing it to work with anything else.
Lewis will be bringing his tour to Phoenix on Jan. 25 and 26 to the Stand Up Live Comedy Theater. Tickets can be purchased for $22.
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