Tag Archives: Comedy

Don Rickles, comedy great, dies at 90

Comedian Don Rickles responds during an interview in New York, May 18, 2007, about his memoir “Rickles’ Book” (AP Photo/Richard Drew)



By Lisa Respers France
Don Rickles, a comedian and actor known for his abrasive humor, died Thursday from kidney failure at his Los Angeles home, according to his publicist Paul Shefrin.
He was 90 years old.
Known as the world’s greatest insult comic, Rickles enjoyed a career which spanned decades and found him performing in everything from nightclubs to a Martin Scorsese film.
Rickles reveled in being the opposite of politically correct.
In a 1993 interview he told CNN’s Larry King “I don’t even know what the hell it means.”
“I make fun of the world,” Rickles said. “You know that. And if you know how to handle that and you treat people — and you make fun of yourself, hey, it’s not offensive.”
Born in the Jackson Heights section of Queens in New York City, Rickles was the only child of an insurance salesman and housewife.
After he graduated from high school in the 1940s he did a two year stint in the Navy before following in his father’s footsteps as an insurance agent.
That career didn’t take off and Rickles enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
He tried his hand at performing comedy in nightclubs in between acting gigs and it was there he found his true calling by taking on hecklers.
Rickles was doing just that in the 1950s when Frank Sinatra and his entourage happened upon his performance in Miami Beach.
Sinatra took such a strong liking to the comic that Rickles became an honorary member of the Rat Pack and the singer helped to open doors for him and his caustic wit.
Los Angeles led to some TV and movie roles, but it was in Las Vegas, the Rat Pack’s home base, where Rickles perfected his craft of curmudgeonly humor with sharply timed insults.
In 1965 an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson gave him his national breakthrough and he quickly became a regular guest.
TV execs tried to cash in on his popularity with “The Don Rickles Show” in 1972 but it was short lived. A starring role on the sitcom “C.P.O. Sharkey” lasted a bit longer, from 1976-1978.
But it was “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast,” which ran from 1974 to 1984 on NBC, where Rickles’ barbs and zingers helped to firmly establish him as “Mr. Warmth.”
On Thursday some of his Hollywood colleagues paid tribute to Rickles.
“He was called ‘The Merchant of Venom,’ but in truth, he was one of the kindest, caring and most sensitive human beings we have ever known,” actor Bob Newhart and his wife Ginnie Newhart said in a statement. “We are devastated and our world will never be the same.”
Revered in comedy circles, Rickles also had dramatic chops.
In 1995 he portrayed the trusted floor boss in Scorsese’s gangster drama “Casino.”
In 2014, the legendary director joined “Casino” star Robert De Niro in roasting Rickles during Spike TV’s “One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles.”
“Bob and I did like eight pictures together,” Scorsese joked. “Then we did ‘Casino’ with Don, 20 years ago — and we haven’t worked together since.”
A whole new generation fell in love with Rickle’s work after he was cast as the voice of “Mr. Potato Head” in the “Toy Story” films.
In February Rickles told Closer Weekly he had no plans to retire despite his advanced age.
He said he was still operating with the same spontaneous humor he always had
“I don’t practice or write stuff down — everything I do onstage was just made up before I went on,” he said. “You can’t please everyone, but I’ve been fortunate in that my fans are in my corner.”
Rickles added that he was grateful for his continued audience after so many years in the business.
“Whether it’s 10 people or 300 people, an audience is still an audience,” he said. “If people keep showing up to see you, then it’s still a high.”


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Jim Belushi files second lawsuit in connection to The Comedy Bar

Photo Credit: morguefile.com
Photo Credit: morguefile.com

(Chicago) Actor Jim Belushi filed a second lawsuit in two days connected to The Comedy Bar, this time claiming he was stiffed of nearly $39,000 for his promotional work.

The suit, filed Friday by Belushi and his company Bessie Blu, claims the “According to Jim” actor made an agreement between 2012 and 2013 with Comedy Bar co-owner Kyle Lane, requiring Belushi to promote the comedy club in exchange for payments. Belushi was required to make television appearances, agree to give radio and newspaper interviews and visit about 24 “high-end” Chicago hotels, the suit said.

Belushi, who lives in Los Angeles, claims he is owed $38,142 for his promotional work, which includes travel and lodging expenses.

Additionally, in the fall of 2014, Lane made a draft agreement with Belushi’s company Bessie Blu that would allow the Comedy Bar to use the trademark phrase “Belushi’s Comedy Bar” in return for royalty payments. The agreement also said Bessie Blu would pay for lighting the Comedy Bar’s stage for its new location.

That trademark agreement fell through in January 2015, according to a defamation suit Belushi filed Thursday.

Bessie Blu paid $16,759.94 for the lights on November 21, 2014, before the agreement was ever finalized. Also that fall, Bessie Blue and Belushi loaned money to Lane as part of the overall agreement, and it was understood that the money would be repaid “in a timely fashion,” the suit claims.

The suit claims Lane refuses to repay the loan or sign a document that would “memorialize” any oral agreement they had related to the payments.

The Comedy Bar and Lane could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Belushi’s three-count suit claims Lane and The Comedy Bar breached a contract and have unjustly benefited from Belushi’s services. He is asking for an unspecified amount in damages.

On Thursday, Belushi filed a lawsuit claiming The Comedy Bar’s general manager Sahar Chavoshi defamed the actor after talks to use his trademark name for the club fell through.

Belushi is requesting more than $50,000 in damages in that suit.