Richard Lewis on his sports activities bond with Larry David and life as an Ohio State fanatic

The comic lengthy generally known as the “Prince of Ache” does expertise pleasure, particularly when it’s THE Ohio State College beating Michigan in soccer.

Or any sport.

Richard Lewis, an iconic staple of the American comedy scene as a stand-up and late-night present fixture beginning within the early Seventies via his common appearances on finest good friend Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” since 2000, is a 1969 Ohio State grad. And he’s fiercely pleased with it.

He’s additionally unafraid to speak trash about Michigan — on Twitter, in particular person, on the telephone, on his sofa in entrance of the TV.

“I’ve such a hatred for that establishment. I’ve by no means missed an (OSU-UM) sport since I used to be 17,” Lewis mentioned. “Individuals who go to Ohio State have such a disdain for the Wolverines. Is that this like a cult? No, there’s a giant historical past concerned with these two groups. Till the day I die, I’ll need to crush that staff up north. I by no means put the letter M on something.”

The 75-year-old Lewis theorizes that the will to see Ohio State video games, and particularly to see the Buckeyes or any staff beat Michigan in any sport, has prolonged his life.

“If I’m flipping channels, if the Wolverines are enjoying badminton in opposition to Rice, I begin screaming for Rice,” Lewis mentioned. “It’s lengthened my life, this worry of lacking out on Buckeye soccer.”

 

It’s not attainable to speak to Lewis, even about sports activities, with out additionally speaking about his well-known pal, the co-creator of “Seinfeld” whose exaggerated misanthropy, mannerisms, anxieties, quirks, expressions and peccadillos have made HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” a critically acclaimed and publicly-adored TV sequence for twenty years.

They had been born three days aside in the identical Brooklyn hospital in 1947, assembly and disliking each other as younger teenagers at a sports activities camp in 1960 earlier than reconnecting as younger comedians and sports activities nuts within the early Seventies.

And Richard Lewis-Larry David sports activities anecdotes, together with their half-century friendship, are very like their semi-fictional relationship on TV — hilarious, possibly a bit sardonic, and rooted within the form of love that permits finest pals to bicker.

For instance, Lewis rented a limo to take David to the 1997 Rose Bowl, not removed from their properties in Los Angeles. That they had seats within the stands, but additionally VIP press field passes, to observe the Buckeyes play Arizona State.

“It begins to rain inside a minute and a half of the sport. I say, ‘Let’s go upstairs, sit with the (OSU) president.’ He goes, ‘OK, let’s go,’” Lewis recalled.

“We begin to stroll away, and I’m getting mocked by the gang for leaving the stands. I made up some bulls—, ‘I’m allergic to rain!’ I don’t know what the f— I mentioned. They laughed. I ask Larry, ‘The place’s your go?’ ‘I misplaced it,’ he mentioned. I stared at him. This was a minute and a half into the sport. It was a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ second. I wished to strangle him.

“I acquired so offended. ‘Simply comply with me,’ I mentioned. We depart.” The limo was below a car parking zone mild within the drizzle and gloaming.

“We didn’t converse in any respect within the automobile,” Lewis mentioned. “I used to be mortified I couldn’t see the (Buckeyes) play. I noticed the final 10 minutes of the second quarter at house. I didn’t converse to him for some time.”

Such moments aren’t restricted to Ohio State occasions. Each comedians are monumental sports activities followers.

“Larry loves hockey. Once we had been younger comics, we’d get nosebleeds for Rangers video games,” Lewis mentioned. “We might be miles away from the rink on the prime. I couldn’t see the puck. It was the worst seats you may think about. He would look down on the part beneath us — ‘I’ve been looking forward to 10 minutes, go to these two empty seats.’

“So we’d transfer all the way down to these seats after which (the ticket-holders) would present up, so we return to the dangerous seats. … He’d spot extra seats. All I’d do is comply with him to raised seats. He has not been companion.”

And in a dispute paying homage to their TV relationship, David mentioned it was really Lewis who has been sad with their seats.

“He was by no means happy together with his seat. He was all the time searching for one thing higher. Typically we’d must repay the ushers to maneuver down,” David mentioned. “One time, we had been within the second row at Madison Sq. Backyard. He was complaining the entire sport! He wished the primary row. ‘Will you shut up?!’ What a bit child.”

Goofing apart, David clearly enjoys watching sports activities together with his buddy.

“He’s enjoyable to observe video games with,” David mentioned.

Lewis recounted one other time, additionally earlier than David’s broader fame, the pair flew to San Antonio for a Knicks-Spurs sport. Spurs followers acknowledged Lewis and heckled the lifelong Knicks fan.

“We get there, and the sport was a nightmare as a result of we misplaced. And it’s two Jewish guys in Texas. They didn’t understand who he was, however knew who I used to be, and so they had been screaming and mocking,” Lewis mentioned. “He wished to remain an additional night time, to play golf with some pals. We now have a bit motel room close to the Alamo. ‘I’ll get nightmares,’ I mentioned. It was a horror present, I needed to get out of there. We had one other battle,” Lewis mentioned.

Lewis tells these tales in his basic angst-ridden model, nevertheless it’s evident that the anecdotes come from a spot of a deep, longtime love for his finest good friend — who occurs to have graduated from Maryland in 1970, a proven fact that fuels a Lewis sports activities fantasy.

“I’d like to have a giant sport in opposition to Maryland,” Lewis mentioned. “I’d plan to observe collectively. I’ll actually be boastful.”

David isn’t a giant faculty soccer fan, a minimum of not like Lewis.

“He is aware of every thing about me, however he couldn’t care much less about Ohio State,” Lewis mentioned. “If (a Buckeyes sport is) not going nicely, I grow to be like a satanic determine in his life, and I depart.”

That looks like a scene out of “Curb,” nevertheless it is also their real-life friendship.

“Our relationship is precisely the identical (as on the present),” David mentioned.


Lewis’ deep Ohio State fandom hasn’t been fully clean. There was a quick incident with the Buckeyes’ mascot, Brutus, when Lewis was homecoming grand marshal in 1986: “They put my title on the (video) board, I stroll out, it’s sizzling. Brutus came to visit and I made a joke — ‘Don’t you sweat below that?’ — and he didn’t take it proper. We had a bit shoving motion,” Lewis mentioned. “I mentioned to myself, ‘That is no solution to be a grand marshal. You don’t screw round with Brutus.’”

Lewis additionally was grand marshal in 1995 — with out incident, he added.

In 2000, OSU’s athletic division let slip a wisecrack about Lewis in a basketball media information, within the part about well-known alums. It referred to Lewis as “actor, author, comic, drunk” as a reference to his in the end profitable battles with dependancy. Lewis, who has performed PSAs and different promotional work for OSU, was harm and the varsity apologized.

Lewis additionally has spoken out in regards to the OSU athletic division’s scandals in recent times.

 

There stays one elusive purpose on Lewis’ OSU bucket checklist: Dotting the I.

That’s the honour, often reserved for an upperclassman sousaphone participant however sometimes another person, to actually be the dot over the letter “i” when the band performs its “Script Ohio” routine.

“Why can’t I dot the I? That’s so grandiose,” Lewis mentioned. Notables to have performed it embrace Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus, John Glenn and former Ohio State soccer coaches Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce.

Today, Lewis says he’d be pleased to escort the I-dotting band member to carry out their responsibility.

“Perhaps I can stroll out and pat them on the again. ‘Don’t make it a semi-colon.’ I’d be his supervisor for 20 toes,” he mentioned.

His Ohio State fandom started within the Hayes period, and so they had one encounter when Lewis was a pupil.

“I used to be purchasing for hamburger meat, for dinner, on the grocery store. I put my hand on what regarded like a pound of meat, and a bear-like mitt slaps my hand. It was the coach, Woody,” Lewis mentioned. “He slapped my hand. I used to be so scared.”

“’I used to be right here first. That’s my meat,’” Hayes mentioned, as Lewis recounts the incident. “I mentioned, ‘You possibly can have something right here within the freezer. I’m right here to serve.’ He has such a presence about him.”

It was a decade later when Hayes’ profession ended after he swung his fist into the throat of a Clemson soccer participant returning an interception within the 1978 Gator Bowl. Lewis mentioned he believes in second possibilities and forgiveness however termed that incident a part of “a very dangerous period” that worn out the great Hayes had performed.

Lewis had arrived at Ohio State throughout Hayes’ tenure, when he was teaching the Buckeyes to the 1968 season nationwide championship, a 12 months that included a 50-14 rout of Michigan on the Horseshoe and a 27-16 win over USC within the Rose Bowl on New Yr’s Day 1969.

“That 12 months, particularly, was probably the most thrilling run I’ve ever had as a sports activities fanatic,” Lewis mentioned. “I used to be within the stands for the video games, and it was too good to be true.”

Many years later, together with his status and celeb firmly established, he was on the sphere for Ohio State’s 2002 nationwide championship sport.

“On the sidelines, to be there dwell, I knew I used to be watching actual historical past,” Lewis mentioned.


Lewis’ fandom and devotion to his alma mater can appear incongruous together with his 50-year profession.

Recognized for his black fits and enviable mane of black hair — it’s a bit grayer now — Lewis made his mark making audiences snigger at his self-deprecating bits about his nervousness, melancholy, love life and battles with dependancy.

The black outfits are a supply of comedian irritation for David: “He’s a whole phony. He is aware of he’s a phony. He could also be fooling the general public however he’s not fooling me,” he mentioned, laughing like a brother tweaking a brother.

Lewis can be extensively credited — possibly not by Bartlett’s — for coining the phrase “___ from hell.” He did Johnny Carson and Letterman, quite a few stand-up specials, and had his personal comedy sequence with Jamie Lee Curtis (“Something However Love” from 1989-92 on Fox). His film roles have included “Robin Hood: Males In Tights” and “Leaving Las Vegas.”

He additionally starred in an unbiased 1999 sports activities darkish comedy film, as a louche faculty basketball coach, referred to as “Recreation Day.”

That flick suits in together with his model of comedy. A lifelong hardcore sports activities fan, he grew up in Brooklyn and New Jersey rooting for the Mets and Knicks and changing into pals through the years with figures reminiscent of Mickey Mantle.

Which is odd as a result of he grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, particularly first baseman Gil Hodges, who later managed the Mets to their iconic 1969 World Collection title however died of a coronary heart assault at age 47 in 1972. That Hodges love led to a friendship with Mantle. The Yankees icon throughout his enjoying days would go not removed from the place Lewis lived on the way in which to the stadium. Someday, Lewis mentioned, he was carrying a Hodges t-shirt and teasing the passing gamers. Later, when Lewis was a celeb himself, he recounted that story to Mantle, who hung a photograph of them collectively inside his New York Metropolis restaurant.

Different sports activities buddies got here to incorporate Vin Scully, Joe Namath, Invoice Russell, Mark Jackson, Bob Costas and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jackson, Lewis added, turned good friend who checked up on his throughout his laborious work to get sober.

Within the ‘70s, he was doing a stand-up set and seen a tall man within the viewers. It was Wilt Chamberlain.

Lewis, after all, has a enjoyable anecdote about them assembly: “I end my set, and he had like seven dates with him. He put his hand out, it’s the dimensions of a Pizza Hut field. I had a mini panic assault. I put my finger in the midst of his palm. Wilt squeezed my finger, and he wouldn’t let go. ‘Wilt, my finger!’”

Hanging with superstars and doing TV and flicks is a great distance from Columbus, Ohio. How did he find yourself at Ohio State?

“I acquired in,” Lewis deadpanned.

His dad and mom took him on a campus go to in 1966 and that cemented his selection.

“I fell in love with the campus,” Lewis mentioned. “I used to be so taken by it, I didn’t care about different colleges at that time. I used to be a Buckeye proper out of the gate.”

After graduating in 1969 with a advertising diploma, he caught round OSU for a couple of extra months. He even entertained the thought of getting a grasp’s diploma in communications and one other sheepskin for movie.

His father put the kibosh on that. Lewis went again to New York. He labored for an advert company and commenced making an attempt his hand at comedy writing and stand-up. That’s when he re-met Larry David.

Their shared sports activities fanaticism and disappointment, and occasional delights, helped their bond.

“I really like sports activities a lot,” Lewis mentioned, including that he performed Little League and basketball. He mentioned he performed stickball from age 6 till his mid-sixties, calling himself a tough participant to get out throughout his prime — a a lot tougher out than David, he added.

“I critically couldn’t get the ball by him,” David confirmed. “He hit every thing. It was so irritating to play him. I had a good arm. He had an excellent eye. He would have been golfer. I attempted to get him {golfing} 100 instances.”

And David remembers Lewis was basketball participant, too. “He had an excellent exterior shot,” he mentioned.

Even touring for 50 years, Lewis made the Buckeyes a precedence. He’d attempt to schedule exhibits round their soccer schedule. In particular person, on TV, on radio — so long as he may get the dwell motion, he was pleased.

“I don’t assume since ‘66 I’ve missed any soccer video games that had been televised whereas I used to be on the street,” Lewis mentioned. “I don’t assume I did too many live shows in Michigan. Why set myself up for individuals screaming at me? I couldn’t blame them.”

He’s not been to a sport in Columbus in about 15 years, he mentioned, as a result of touring and work stored him busy. He’s contented as of late to observe from house.

“After I was a lot youthful, I used to go to some bars. It acquired too rowdy, and I haven’t had a drink in 28 years,” Lewis mentioned. “I can’t take the pre-game that begins at 7 and the kickoff is in 5 hours. The older I acquired, I flip it on simply earlier than kickoff. I’m so nervous. I flip it on actually in the course of the opening kickoff after which I’m so glued.”

He’s additionally labored via again and shoulder surgical procedures in recent times that almost derailed his appearances within the eleventh season of “Curb” final 12 months, however he’s therapeutic properly, he mentioned, and plans to return for the following season.

“My again is okay, the shoulder is therapeutic nice,” he mentioned. “I’m ready to learn the way many episodes. I can’t wait. I’m so grateful I’ve been a part of this juggernaut since 2000.”

Ohio State additionally has been one thing of a juggernaut since 2000, and Lewis referred to as this period of Buckeye soccer “a golden age.” Notably beating Michigan 16 of the previous 19 conferences.

“I can’t let you know the pleasure I get rooting in opposition to the coach of Michigan, the staff and college, the groundskeeper,” he mentioned.

And the way does Lewis assume the Buckeyes will do that season?

“Primarily based on the little studying I’ve performed up to now — I wish to get extra into as we get nearer — they’re so strong offensively. They handle to (fill) any holes,” he mentioned. “There are all the time powerful street video games. I’m satisfied they’re going to make the playoff. I hope it’s in opposition to Alabama. For my seventy fifth birthday current, I’d wish to see (Nick Saban’s) smirk fall into the mud. That’s my dream. I’ll go to a witch and put a hex on them. I’ll even danger going to jail for hiring a witch. I have to see one other championship, and I’ll, and I want it to be in opposition to Alabama.”

Wanting that, he needs to see Michigan have a powerhouse season after which get skunked by the Buckeyes on the finish of November.

“It ruins their 12 months. It ruins every thing in Ann Arbor,” he mentioned.

(Picture of Larry David and Richard Lewis: Charley Gallay / FilmMagic for HBO through Getty Photographs)

Leave a Comment

A note to our visitors

This website has updated its privacy policy in compliance with changes to European Union data protection law, for all members globally. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to give you more information about your rights and responsibilities with respect to your privacy and personal information. Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our updated privacy policy.