Richard Philip Lewis (born June 29, 1947) is an American comedian and actor.
Lewis was born in Brooklyn, New York City, and was raised in Englewood, New Jersey. His father worked as a caterer and his mother was an actress. Lewis is Jewish. He later attended the Ohio State University and was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.
Lewis began performing stand-up comedy in the 1970s. He worked as a copywriter for an ad agency by day, while honing his stand-up act at night. The ad agency was named Contemporary Graphics (now defunct) and was located above Lovey's pizzeria in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Lewis gained popularity in the 1980s with numerous appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and his own television specials on HBO. He has starred in the ABC sitcom Anything But Love which ran for four seasons. He co-starred with Don Rickles on the short-lived Daddy Dearest. He had arecurring role on Showtime series Rude Awakening and as Rabbi Richard Glass on the dramatic series 7th Heaven, and appeared on the Tales from the Crypt episode "Whirlpool". Lewis has written comic articles for magazines such as Playboy, and endorsed the popular early-1990s beverage,Boku, as well as Snapple and Certs breath mints. In 2007 he made a cameo appearance as Phillip, the school counselor of Max's school, in the T.V Series George Lopez. Recently he also made cameos in Everybody Hates Chris as an old man in the hospital bed next to Chris Rock and as Charlie Sheen's accountant in Two and a Half Men.
Lewis has also achieved moderate success in films, appearing as Prince John in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, as a frontier doctor in Wagons East!, as an unemployed actor in Once Upon A Crimeand as himself in the film The Wrong Guys. He played the lead role of Jimmy Epstein in the dramatic film Drunks and in the 1999 comedy Game Day. He also appeared in the dramatic picturesLeaving Las Vegas, Hugo Pool and The Maze. He made his acting debut in the 1977 TV movie mockumentary Diary of a Young Comic.
On January 9, 2001, Lewis visited The Howard Stern Show to promote his book The Other Great Depression, which described his recovery from alcoholism.
He currently has a frequent recurring role as a character based on himself on Larry David's critically acclaimed Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO. Lewis and David met at summer camp in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York when they were thirteen.
He is #45 on Comedy Central's list of 100 Greatest Standups of All Time.
Super Bowl XLV commercial
On February 6, 2011, Lewis was in a commercial for Snickers with Roseanne Barr, portraying a logger who refused to work. Upon eating a Snickers bar, Lewis transforms into the real logger, "Tony", and he and his coworker watch another worker (Barr) complain about back pain before being hit with a log on a cable.
"The ______ from hell"
Lewis claims to be the originator of the phrase "The ______ from hell" as in "the date from hell" or "the roommate from hell". This theory is expounded in the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "The Nanny from Hell". Lewis has petitioned the editors of Bartlett's to be given credit for the coinage, but the editors claim that the phrase was a common idiom prior to Lewis's use of it. For example, during World War I, kilted Scottish soldiers were given the nickname "The Ladies from Hell" (translation of German "Die Damen aus der Hölle") by German troops. However, the Yale Book of Quotations does attribute the phrase to Lewis. It is not known whether this attribution was partly or completely a result of Lewis' petitioning them.
Lewis is noted for always wearing an all-black outfit. and Converse sneakers. During his routines, he commonly places his right hand on his forehead, then stretches it outward as he makes his point. He also performs with long pieces of paper with notes on them, refers to the notes, then extemporaneously delivers his material. He has also performed drinking out of a New York Jets mug instead of a plain water bottle.