Richard Lewis Retires From Stand-Up Comedy After Diagnosis From Hell
Comedian Richard Lewis punctuated so many jokes with “(blank) from hell” — the date from hell, the therapist from hell, his book Reflections from Hell — that the Yale Book of Quotations officially credits him for the joke construction. Unfortunately, Lewis won’t be delivering those jokes from stage any longer, retiring from stand-up comedy after receiving a diagnosis from, well, you know where.
In a video Lewis released last night on Twitter, he acknowledges that fans have been wondering where he’s been outside of his occasional Curb Your Enthusiasm appearances. “You know the last three and a half years, I’ve had sort of a rocky time,” he explains, “and people said, ‘I haven’t heard from you, are you still touring?'”
“Here’s really what happened,” Lewis continues. “Three and half years ago, I was in the middle of a tour, and I finally ended it with a show. I said, ‘You know, I’m at the top of my game. After 50 years almost I’m going to call it quits,’ and I felt great about that.”
But then, as Lewis poetically puts it, the shit hit the fan. Call it poor health or bad luck, but Lewis required four surgeries “back to back to back to back.” Shoulders and hips were replaced, requiring months of physical therapy, but as Lewis says, “That’s life.”
Unfortunately, the news got worse for Lewis. Two years ago, he noticed that he was walking stiffly and shuffling his feet. A trip to the neurologist triggered a brain scan and a troubling diagnosis: 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.”
It’s an ironic end to a storied stand-up career for a comedian who named his signature special I’m In Pain. But Lewis doesn’t want you feeling sorry for him. “Everything is cool,” he promises. “I love my wife, I love my little puppy dog and I love all my friends and my fans. And now you know where it’s been at the last three and a half years. God bless you.”