Richard Jeni died Saturday, March 10, 2007. He was 49.
Well-seasoned in a cross-platform variety of film, television and live
performance, comedian Richard Jeni continued to tackle new projects
with distinctive talent and craft.
Since his first major movie role in the blockbuster hits, "The
Mask" and his own TV series based on his award-winning HBO Special, a sold
out attraction across the country, Jeni had been game for new territory.
Jeni starred in the satirical feature, "Burn
Hollywood Burn: An Alan Smithee Film." In addition, he was seen on
10,000 movie screens across the country in a series of Coca-Cola commercials. In the fall
of 1997, he starred in his fourth one hour comedy special for HBO entitled "A
Good Catholic Boy." All in all, 1997 was a busy year for him. There
was the release of his first comedy CD, "Richard Jeni's Greatest Bits,"
The Movie Channel original feature "National Lampoon's Dad's Week Off"
with Henry Winkler and he hosted The Learning Channel infotainment series "What
A World," where he was nominated for a CableAce Award as Best
He received his first CableAce Award in the category of Best
Stand-up Comedy Special. The HBO Special, "Richard Jeni: Platypus
Man," ventured into such areas as: safe sex in the 90's, the art of buying
the ultimate car and the mind-numbing power of love songs.
Throughout these demanding productions, Jeni continued to earn top
honors as both performer and writer in his familiar neighborhood of stand-up comedy.
Having been named 1993's "Best Male Stand-up Comic" by the
American Comedy Awards, Jeni won a second CableAce Award for his writing on A&E's
"Caroline's Comedy Hour," which he also hosted.
Jeni also scored with his feature film debut in New Line Cinema's
blockbuster, "The Mask." He co-starred as 'Charlie,' best
friend and sidekick to Jim Carrey, an ordinary guy transformed into an indestructible,
wise-cracking superior by a mysterious, ancient mask. Said Jeni, "Think of an Italian
Jeni's native territory was Brooklyn, New York. He vividly recalled that
street fights, alcohol, and drugs were a way of life, and to survive he quickly developed
a style of his own with dead-on imitations and comedy routines.
A mathematics wizard with a penchant for political analysis, Jeni
combined these skills and graduated with honors as a double major in political science and
economics from Hunter College. Following a couple of stints in "junior
executive"-type jobs, Jeni's overwhelming, inescapable call came in 1982 when comedy
eventually won out, and he took his act to an open-mike night in Brooklyn. His unique
blend of street-smarts and scholarship was finally realized in his hilarious truth-based
observations on the human condition.
His accomplishments in television were consistent with his rising
profile. He began in 1986 with a few minutes on Showtime's "Just for Laughs"
international comedy festival broadcast. This was followed by Showtime's "Triple
Crown of Comedy." Showtime gave Jeni his first half-hour solo special in
1989. "Richard Jeni: The Boy From New York City" was a
blockbuster for the cable channel, and he received his first CableAce nomination.
Subsequently, Showtime gave him a rare one-hour in 1991. "Richard Jeni -
Crazy From The Heat" garnered outstanding ratings as well as rave
He had been a guest on just about every major talk show. He won a Clio
Award in 1989 for his character in a series of commercials for the Milk
Association and was again highly visible in the memorable series of off-beat Certs
With a keen ear for dialogue, a remarkable talent for observational
comedy, and an impeccable sense of timing, Jeni continued to pioneer the comedic frontier
with his own sharp brand of cutting-edge humor.
Richard Jeni will be missed!
Born: in New York
in New York City
Died: in California
in Los Angeles
Mar 10, 2007