Jeni burst onto the national scene in 1990 with his first Showtime Special “Richard Jeni: The Boy From New York City.” The show received three Cable ACE Awards (the awards for cable excellence) nominations. Two years later, he followed up with his second one-hour concert for Showtime, “Richard Jeni: Crazy From The Heat”, which was the highest-rated stand-up special in Showtime’s history. During this period, Richard was also becoming a favorite guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. After a couple of white-hot stand-up appearances on the show, Johnny moved Richard up to the status of “panel guest. ” Richard’s banter with Johnny got the kind of desk pounding tears of laughter response from the legendary host that made Richard a fixture on thse show. When Jay Leno took over, he kept the working formula of Richard Jeni and The Tonight Show going. During Jay’s tenure, Richard has been on show more than any other stand-up.
Richard’s success on cable and network TV caught the eye of HBO President Chris Albrecht who wooed Richard with an offer for a coveted HBO Comedy Hour, the most prestigious showcase available to today’s comedians. The result was “Richard Jeni: Platypus Man”, an unqualified smash that won the Cable ACE Award for “Best Stand-up Comedy Special” and formed the basis for his network sitcom of the same name. “Platypus Man.”
Awards and accolades continued to pile up and Richard’s growing popularity was making him a sold-out attraction in concert venues.
Richard John Colangelo (April 14, 1957 – March 10, 2007), better known by the stage name of Richard Jeni, was an American stand-up comedian and actor.
Richard Jeni was raised in an Italian-American Roman Catholic family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He graduated with honors from Hunter College, earning a bachelor's degree in comparative politics. After graduating, Jeni went on to do public relations work, but was let go from five different firms in two years before doing an open-mic night in Brooklyn and deciding to pursue standup comedy as a career in 1982.
Jeni first received recognition through a series of Showtime stand-up specials and frequent appearances on The Tonight Show. After making his Tonight Show debut in 1988 with Johnny Carson, Jeni would return often and later made appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, all told with more appearances than any other stand-up comedian. In 1989, he won Comedy USA`s Best Nightclub Comedian, as voted by comedy club owners and comedians, and his first Showtime special Richard Jeni: The Boy From New York City won a CableACE Award.
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 returned for two more shows, going on to receive another CableACE Award for one of his HBO specials. Jeni also starred on the short-lived 1995 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, An Alan Smithee Film: 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.
In 2004, Jeni was ranked #57 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time
His girlfriend was making breakfast downstairs when he shot himself in the mouth with a handgun.
In late 2006, he was hospitalized for suicidal depression.
He was diagnosed with severe clinical depression, along with bouts of psychotic paranoia.
At the time of his death, he was living in West Hollywood, CA.
In 2004, he was named number 57 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest standups of all time.
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