“The only time Chevy Chase has a funny bone in his body is when I fuck him in the ass.”
When I started in comedy Richard Belzer was the King of Catch of Rising Star and Catch a Rising Star was the coolest place in the whole God Damn world. Rick Newman ran it and he was the coolest guy in New York and Richard Belzer was his guy. Patty Benatar was his gal. She was a rock star and Belzer was the devil and he played the part of a comedian at night. Everyone was there then. Elayne Boosler, Billy Crystal, Larry David. Belzer was the first rock and roll comedian. He was Josh Adam Meyers grandfather. He was Big Jay’s great Uncle, and long before Slash and Axel Rose were coming to the ‘Store’ and doing lines up at Cresthill with Sam Kinison, and Sandler was pals with Springsteen, and Jeff Ross hung out with all the rock stars he does, Belzer was asshole tight with Jagger, Dylan, Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stone was writing about him then, calling him out as the devil.
HIDING BEHIND DARK SHADES
He wasn’t the devil though. He was just a nice Jewish funny as hell kid that liked to get high as a kite off stage. He wasn’t a mean guy. Not at all. He was a nice guy off stage. Onstage though he didn’t give a damn what you thought. He hid behind a pair of dark shades and just said whatever the fuck he wanted to say. He was one of a kind. One of the first. That’s why he matters. A lot of people zoomed right by him to success. They were better at playing the game. Controlling themselves. Controlling their demons. The problem with The Belz is he was the demon. He couldn’t control himself and didn’t want to for a long time. He was happy being Stand-ups Satan. He was happy being that guy, and for that reason no one else could be that funny, fuel that fire.
He would walk on stage and ask the crowd how they were. ‘Having a good time?’ If they responded ,’Yes’ He’d wait a beat, then say. ‘Yeah. I doubt it.’ But he was ballsy in a time most everyone else wasn’t. Maybe Pryor. That’s it. Everyone else in comedy was fishing for ten minutes sets on Carson and then a sitcom. This was even a hiccup before the cable specials. Belzer was only out to make the club audiences laugh then himself laugh and get off and get high.
A few years later he came out to LA and was a fixture at the Store and Improv. His act became even more brave and brusque during those years. Further down the road of non-compliance. We were all in awe of him because he so didn’t care. He also was so much fun to party with. As I said, he was a good guy, there wasn’t anything mean about him, he was just fun. He was also in love with his wife at the time who was one of the best looking women God had ever dropped onto the planet, and she just was pleasant to be around as he was. Maybe more.
He was once doing a special for HBO with Marty Callner for Chevy Chase and I remember this incident like it’s yesterday, where late one night after playing at the Comedy Store he got way fucked up and for some reason he was down on Melrose and smashed out several storefront windows with rocks. He got caught right away. Didn’t even run. He was arrested, and Robin Williams had to bail him out of jail and pay the damages to the store. I remember it so clearly because it was out of character a bit, and also because a few nights later we were all up at Mitzi’s in her living room, getting high again, and I asked him why he did it and his answer was priceless.
‘If I knew that, Baby Boy, not only would I be a wealthy man, I’d be sane.’
The biggest thing about Richard is that he broke all the rules and he succeeded. He was the dark lord long before it was okay to go dark. Before that was cool or acceptable, watchable or sustainable. He taught comics it was okay not to care. He brought on Sam Kinison and Dice and many, many others. He didn’t have a safety net. He found love then got lucky with Munch. It wasn’t a plan. It was a gift. He didn’t set out to land safely. He did. Thank God. He was a good man. Love you, Belz!
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