…because he killed himself this past weekend.
I have mixed opinions about Richard Jeni. He was a really talented performer and was one of the few comics prolific enough as a writer to create numerous hour-long comedy specials for Cable. While I was never really knocked out by his material, he was able to gain a large following, which very few comics are ever able to do.
During the early 90’s, Jeni was arguably one of the 5 most popular touring stand-ups in the world. He was a regular on Carson and next to George Carlin and Gallagher, I can’t think of anyone who put out more pay-cable comedy specials during this period.
The early 90’s were the Golden Age for stand-up comics, as many were being signed to star in sitcoms. Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Brett Butler, and Jerry Seinfeld all ended up being major successes, despite not being as commercially successful as Jeni was before their shows went on the air. Jeni got his chance at his own show, which was titled “Platypus Man.” I don’t remember much about the show, except that I thought it was decent. If I’m not mistaken, it appeared on the first year that UPN existed, which I’m guessing didn’t help the show’s odds for success.
Just like all other artistic endeavors, who is the best and most creative does not mean these qualifications will translate to major commercial success. While watching some of your peers’ eclipse you can be crushing, you have to be self-aware enough to also realize that there are people more talented than you that haven’t achieved your level of success, as well.
At this point, it isn’t known why Jeni blasted himself in the face with a shotgun, but it was known in the comedy biz that he was a bitter guy. We all at times suffer from myopia, especially creative types who crave the spotlight to feed their egos. (I would have to rate comedians/bloggers right near the top of this category.)
So while I can’t say I was ever a large fan of Richard Jeni, I do remember enjoying his comedy. I know it sounds very self-absorbed to say that being able to stand-up in front of a large audience of diverse people and make them laugh for an hour is one of the most difficult things to do on the planet, but .
If he was a bittermun or not, I think the world needs as many funny people as it can get, so I lament the passing of Richard Jeni. I guess I’m surprised that Jeni decided to end his life this way, as I never took him for a prop act. Sadly, Richard Jeni won’t be here all week, so no need to try the veal.