In the Mind of Madness

Photo credit: Karin Martinez

Talking on the phone with prolific comedian Richard Lewis is like attending one of his stand up shows: Ask a pleasantry such as “How are you doing?” and the answer you get is a hilarious exposition that starts with meeting his future wife at one of Ringo Starr’s parties and weaves through his group therapy sessions with Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David, before ending on his belated honeymoon in Rome. That’s because, for Lewis the distance between two thoughts is never a short one. But it’s always entertaining. “This is basically what I do on stage,” Lewis explains from his home in California. “I ramble about what’s going on in my life and pray the audience laughs, then I run. I’ve been doing it for 38 years now; it’s like a gigantic practical joke on humanity.”

Lewis’ knack for verbal therapy, coupled with his willingness to expose all facets of his life, have made him one of the most successful comics of all time. On Curb, Lewis stars as himself, mirroring the tumultuous nature of his real-life friendship with Larry David. Likewise, his acclaimed memoir, The Other Great Depression, delves into his battle with drug and alcohol addiction – a facet of his life that inspires as much emotion as it does comic material. Through it all, Lewis always finds a way to be endearingly self-deprecating, even now that he’s entered his golden years. “I can’t believe I’m 60,” Lewis laments with one of his patented groans. “I close my eyes and I’m still at Ohio State; I open them and I’m getting MRIs and gum work. The whole thing sucks. After 50 I felt like I was living on borrowed time, now it’s like every show could be my last. I’ll probably drop dead in the middle of a punch line.”

One thing’s for certain: If Lewis’ show Friday evening at the Palm Beach Improv (550 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 250, West Palm Beach) is to be his last, he’ll at least go out with a bang. “I’m Richard Lewis, period,” he exclaims, adding he plans to continue doing stand up for a long time. “When I walk off stage in West Palm Beach, people will know, tragically, what I go through in my head.” Tickets cost $21. Call 561-833-1812, or visit
Nov. 1-4, 2007

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John Linn