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The comedian Richard Lewis died this past Tuesday evening of a heart attack at the age of 76. The New York Times has posted a good obituary by Clay Risen here. Variety’s obituary is posted here. Richard told the story of his personal struggles in The Other Great Depression: How I’m overcoming, on a daily basis, at least a million addictions and dysfunctions and finding a spiritual (sometimes) life.

Lewis had the gift of making people laugh. I thought he was incredibly funny. You may have seen him over the past 20-plus years on any of the 41 episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in which he appeared. A fan has posted a 90-minute YouTube video of A Complete Timeline of Richard Lewis and Larry David Banter & Arguments (seasons 1-11).

Curb creator Larry David provided a statement to Variety on Richard’s death: “Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me. He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

I met Richard when he performed at the 2015 Temple of Aaron fundraiser in St. Paul. The professional photographer Matthew Witchell was on hand. Richard greeted us warmly and posed for photographs with those of us lucky enough to attend. At the right is the photo of my wife and me with Richard. You may deduce from the photo that we were happy to meet him.

No one enjoyed the show that night more than I did. Richard performed his routine on the pulpit. Whenever he made an irreverent joke or observation, he would turn around and face the ark. Raising his hands and looking upward, he sought forgiveness and amplified the humor of his jokes.

Richard found love relatively late in life. He fell in love with Joyce Lapinsky of St. Paul’s Highland Park High School, class of ’69. I thought Joyce was the most beautiful girl in a class that was full of beautiful women (and I only knew the ones who were friends of my guy friends).

After seven years of dating, Richard took Joyce to meet his therapist. He recounted having “no confidence in his ability to select a mate.” Lewis also recalled complaining about having “some minor communication” problems with Joyce and that that was the reason why they couldn’t move forward in the relationship. The therapist did not withhold judgment. “In a voice that was almost satanic — it was so dark and loud that it seemed to echo through the neighborhood — my therapist screamed at me, ‘This is as good as it gets!’” Lewis said. “It shook me to my core.” I take that from ET’s account of Richard and Joyce’s relationship yesterday in connection with Richard’s death.

For his performance at Temple of Aaron Richard worked in a variety of funny observations about his father-in-law, Chuck Lapinsky, of blessed memory. The material sounded like it could have been part of his regular stand-up act, but it must have been good for that one night only.

JTA has posted an obituary here. JNS recounts his devotion to Jewish causes and quotes Richard talking about his father, William Lewis. He called his father a “god of kosher catering” in New York and New Jersey. “My father was so well known as a caterer and so booked up that he was actually booked on the weekend of my bar mitzvah so I had to have my party on the Tuesday,” he told JTA.

Last night I met two friends for dinner at the French Meadow restaurant in St. Paul to discuss Book III of Plato’s Republic. When we sat down I mentioned Richard’s death and pulled up the photo of Sally and me at Temple of Aaron to show them. When the owner later came over to our table to say hello, the first thing she said was that she had had sad news — Richard Lewis had died. She looked and sounded genuinely grieved as she talked about her friendship with Richard through Joyce. As far as I can tell, everyone who knew him liked him. RIP.