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Published on February 28, 2024
Beloved Comedian Richard Lewis, 'The Prince of Pain,' Dies at 76 in Los AngelesSource: AllinLewis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Richard Lewis, the stand-up comedian and actor known for his self-deprecating humor and a penchant for all-black attire, has died at the age 76. His publicist, Jeff Abraham, confirmed that Lewis passed away in his Los Angeles home after a heart attack, reported NEXSTAR.

Lewis, who was born in Brooklyn, gained fame for his hyperkinetic style and earned the nickname "The Prince of Pain" for his anxiety-ridden comedic riffs. In a poignant revelation last year, the comedian shared that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. "Luckily, I got it late in life, and they say you progress very slowly if at all, and I’m on the right meds, so I’m cool," Lewis detailed in a statement obtained by NEXSTAR. He is survived his wife, Joyce Lapinsky.

During his lengthy career, Lewis became a fixture on the comedy club circuit and a familiar face on late-night television, hopping from couch to couch with his off-the-wall monologues. His acting chops shone through roles like Marty Gold in "Anything But Love" and the twitchy Prince John in "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." He reached a new audience with his role on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," regularly sparring with Larry David onscreen as an extended version of himself. "Watching his stand-up is like sitting in on a very funny and often dark therapy session," said the Los Angeles Times in 2014.

Lewis's impact on comedy has been widely recognized—Comedy Central named him one of the top 50 stand-up comedians of all time, and he found a spot on GQ magazine's list of the "20th Century’s Most Influential Humorists." He used his comedic gifts to support causes close to his heart, participating in Comic Relief and Comedy Gives Back. He once quipped onstage, "I'm paranoid about everything in my life. Even at home. On my stationary bike, I have a rear-view mirror, which I’m not thrilled about," showcasing his ability to laugh in the face the adversity.

Reflecting on his start in stand-up, Lewis remembered the support he received from comedy legends, such as Rodney Dangerfield, who once paid him $75 to perform at his club. "I had a lot of great friends early on who believed in me, and I met pretty iconic people who really helped me, told me to keep working on my material. And I never looked back," Lewis told The Gazette of Colorado Springs. Friends and fans alike will miss Lewis's unique voice and unforgettable delivery, a legacy that turned personal angst into comedic gold.