Richard Jeni, born Richard John Colangelo was a remarkable talent in standup comedy. He hosted multiple Showtime and HBO comedy specials, winning a Cable Ace Award for the latter. In 2004, Jeni was voted one of Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Standups Of All Time. He was also born and raised right here in Bensonhurst.
Unfortunately, on March 10, 2007, after years of living with severe depression, Jeni took his own life. We will never know what the future held for Richard Jeni, but his legacy lives on in the form of a new compilation of some of his best unreleased work, which is now available on DVD.
Some career highlights from Wikipedia:
Jeni first received recognition through a series of Showtime stand-up specials and frequent appearances on The Tonight Show. Top executives at HBO picked up his first appearance on The HBO Comedy Hour in 1992, titled Richard Jeni: Platypus Man. The show was well-received and Jeni would return for two more shows, going on to receive a CableACE Award for one of his HBO specials. Jeni would also star on the short-lived UPN sitcom Platypus Man and appeared in the Jim Carrey film The Mask. Jeni composed the theme song (“I’m A Platypus Man”) for his TV series. He appeared in The Aristocrats, Dad’s Week Off, Burn, Hollywood, Burn, and Chasing Robert. He starred in commercial campaigns for Certs and Arby’s, and won a Clio Award for his work as a writer/performer in an advertising campaign for the American Dairy Association.
After making his Tonight Show debut in 1988 with Johnny Carson, Jeni appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno more than any other stand-up comedian. Jeni’s death was referenced on the show by Jay Leno on March 12, 2007, with accompanying footage of Jeni’s last appearance on The Tonight Show.
In 2004, Jeni was ranked #57 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
Jeni was also an occasional guest on The Howard Stern Show and in 2001 was one of the candidates to sit in the “Jackie Martling chair”.
The 75 minute DVD is “compiled from raw footage from Richard’s personal archives,” according to the Jeni Estate’s official website. “Almost all 75 minutes of the Beach crowd has never been seen outside of the comic’s extraordinary live performances.”
If you’d like to see some of the best comedy of the last quarter century, as well as support Richard’s next of kin, you can purchase the DVD here.