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Richard Jeni
Birth name Richard John Colangelo
Born April 14, 1957(1957-04-14)[1]
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died March 10, 2007 (aged 49)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Medium Improv/Stand up
Nationality American
Years active 1987–2007
Notable works and roles Charlie in The Mask

Himself in Platypus Man

Richard John Colangelo (April 14, 1957[1] – March 10, 2007[2]), better known by the stage name of Richard Jeni,[3] was an American stand-up comedian and actor.


Early life

Raised in an Italian-American family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn,[4] he graduated with honors from Hunter College, earning a bachelor's degree in Comparative Politics.[5]


Jeni first received recognition through a series of Showtime stand-up specials and frequent appearances on The Tonight Show. 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 would return for two more shows, going on to receive a CableACE Award for one of his HBO specials. Jeni would also star on the short-lived 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.[6] He appeared in The Aristocrats, Dad's Week Off, Burn, Hollywood, Burn, and Chasing Robert.[7] 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.

After making his "Tonight Show" debut in 1989 with Johnny Carson, Jeni appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno more than any other stand-up comedian. Jeni's death was referenced on the show by Jay Leno on March 12, 2007, with accompanying footage of Jeni's last appearance on The Tonight Show.

In 2004, Jeni was ranked #57 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.[8]


On March 10, 2007, Jeni was found by his girlfriend with an apparent self-inflicted handgun wound to the face,[9] in West Hollywood, California.[10] Police found him alive, but gravely injured when they arrived.[3] He was quickly transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he died.[11] Jeni was 49 years old. Suicide was suspected but was not officially confirmed by police.[11] His family later stated with certainty that the death was in fact a suicide, and that Jeni had recently been diagnosed with "severe clinical depression coupled with fits of psychotic paranoia."[12] According to the coroner's report that was released in June 2007, Jeni had a history of schizophrenia and had been taking antidepressants and a sleeping aid. The report further indicated that his girlfriend heard him talking to himself about a week earlier, saying "just squeeze the trigger." [13] Jeni's death was marked by many homages, including specials on XM Satellite Radio, Turner Classic Movie Channel, and Bill Maher's HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher (Season 5, Episode 5) being dedicated to Jeni's memory.

HBO specials

  • Richard Jeni: Platypus Man (1992)
  • Richard Jeni: A Good Catholic Boy (1997)
  • Richard Jeni: A Big Steaming Pile of Me (2005)

Showtime specials

  • Richard Jeni: Boy from New York City (1990)
  • Richard Jeni: Crazy from The Heat (1992)


  • Bird (1988) as Morello
  • The Mask (1994) as Charlie Schumaker
  • An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1998) as Jerry Glover


  1. ^ a b DOB according to Jeni's Website and Social Security Death Index.
  2. ^ "Richard Jeni". Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  3. ^ a b Cohen, Sandy. Autopsy results, cause of death pending for comic Richard Jeni. Associated Press. March 13, 2007.
  4. ^ "Richard Jeni". 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-11.  
  5. ^ "Richard Jeni bio". Retrieved 2007-03-11.  
  6. ^ Richard Jeni at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ "Chasing Robert".  
  8. ^ Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time (2004) at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ BBC News (12 March 2007). "US comic dies in apparent suicide". BBC News: Entertainment. Retrieved 2007-03-12.  
  10. ^ Ryan, Jack (June 27, 2007). "A Comedian's Sad Demise - Coroner: Before suicide, Richard Jeni was involuntarily hospitalized". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  
  11. ^ a b Cholo, Ana Beatriz. "Comic Richard Jeni dead, police investigating possible suicide". San Francisco Chronicle.  
  12. ^ "Family Says Jeni Committed Suicide." Associated Press via Washington Post. March 13, 2007. Retrieved on March 13, 2007.
  13. ^ "Coroner's Report: Jeni Was Mentally Ill." Associated Press via Washington Post. June 29, 2007. Retrieved on August 16, 2009.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Richard John Colangelo (1957-10-312007-03-10), known by his stage name Richard Jeni, was an American actor and comedian.


Platypus Man

  • An adult male human that attempts to mate frequently but spends most of its time alone.
    • Referring to "Platypus Man"
  • If you have a choice of selling shoes to ladies or giving birth to a flaming porcupine... look into that second, less painful career.
  • They should just call it The Bad News. The bloodiest, most disgusting things that happened today packed into a half an hour, right before you go to bed. You thought you were scared before...

Showtime Triple Crowns of Comedy

  • The title of this movie should be "Here's a Fish. You're Stupid."
    • On Jaws 4: The Revenge

A Big, Steaming Pile Of Me

  • There is an obesity epidemic. One out of every three Americans... weighs as much as the other two.
  • Porno is just like any other drug; after a while you start building up a tolerance to it.
  • Imagine my surprise when it turned out the main thing that I was qualified for was to get another degree and teach Political Science to other people, who would, in turn, teach it to other people! This wasn't higher education, this was Amway with a football team!
  • A bunch of money-grubbin', greenhouse-gasing, seal-clubbing, oil-drilling, Bible-thumping, missile-firing, right-to-lifing, lethal-injecting hypocrites. People whose idea of a good time is strapping a dead panda to a Lincoln Navigator and running over everybody in the gay parade.
    • On the right wing
  • A bunch of bong-smoking, America-bashing, flag-burning, yoga-posing, incense-burning, dolphin-saving, salmon-eating hypocrites. These are the sensitive, liberal people who are always yelling about people's freedom of speech and expression, unless you happen to say something that pisses them off.
    • On the left wing

External links

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