Richard Jeni

  • Birth Name: Richard John Colangelo
  • Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • Died: March 10, 2007
  • Profession: Comedian, Actor, Writer
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Like many comedians, Jeni's real life wasn't as funny as his routines. And at age 49, an unshakable battle with depression caused this hilariously blunt Brooklyn comic to commit suicide. On March 10, 2007, Jeni's girlfriend found him alive but fading after a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. It was a sad end for a man who had evoked so much laughter, even if he never quite became a household name. While he snagged bit parts in films (The Mask) and TV guest spots (Married... with Children), Jeni was best known for his irreverent stand-up specials in which he poked merciless fun at everything from relationships to politics. 1992's Richard Jeni: Platypus Man earned him a same-named, short-lived UPN sitcom, but his manic manner and aggressive persona didn't fare well in prime time. Although he continued to work, playing to sold-out crowds, appearing in TV ads and even contributing special material to the 77th Annual Academy Awards hosted by his pal Chris Rock, his big break never came.

Fast Facts

  • Interest in comedy began when he used to imitate his father's comedy records for his friends.
  • Went to the high school that was shown at the beginning of the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.
  • His first of five stand-up specials aired on Showtime in 1990, titled Richard Jeni: The Boy From New York City, and received three CableACE nominations. 
  • Starred in the short-lived 1995 UPN series Platypus Man as the host of a New York City cooking show.
  • Was named Best Male Stand-up at the 1992 American Comedy Awards and in 2004 was named by Comedy Central as one of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.


  • Mary — Sister
  • Joseph Colangelo — Brother


  • City University of New York, Hunter College, New York, New York, United States (BA in Political Science)

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