Launching his career as a standup comic, American performer Richard Belzer entered the 1970s as a member of an odd New York-based comedy troupe called Channel One. Anticipating the home video explosion by over a decade, Channel One staged satirical, scatological routines lampooning the banalities of television — and staged them in front of TV cameras, which transmitted the routines to little TV monitors, which in turn were watched by the live audience.
Richard Jay Belzer (born August 4, 1944) is an American stand-up comedian, author, and actor. He is perhaps best known for his role as John Munch, whom he has portrayed as a regular cast member on the NBC police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as in guest appearances on a number of other series. He portrayed the character for 21 years from 1993 to 2014.
Belzer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He grew up in a Jewish family. After high school, Belzer worked as a reporter for the Bridgeport Post.
Belzer attended Dean College, which was then known as Dean Junior College, in Franklin, Massachusetts, but was expelled.
Belzer terminated his enlistment early. He married Gail Ross, a union that ended in divorce.
Belzer was the audience warm-up comedian for Saturday Night Live in its premiere season and made three guest appearances on the show in 1976 and 1978.
Belzer testified on behalf of a criminal who was running from actual Baltimore police and ran onto the set of Homicide: Life on the Street. The criminal surrendered to the actors.
Belzer survived testicular cancer in 1984. His HBO special and comedy CD Another Lone Nut pokes fun at this, as well as his status as a well-known "Conspiracy Theorist".