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Jimmy Fallon Remembers the Late Richard Lewis, "A Great" Late Night Guest

Fallon called Lewis, who was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 22 times and appeared on Late Night with David Letterman *48* times, "one of the greatest comedians to ever do it."

By Samantha Vincenty

Comedian Richard Lewis died on Tuesday, February 27, NBC News reported on February 28. Some may recognize the veteran stand-up comic from playing a semi-fictionalized version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm, or as Rabbi Richard Glass on Seventh Heaven, where original SNL cast member Laraine Newman played his wife. But at the height of his fame in the 1980s and 1990s—when he starred opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in the sitcom Anything But Love, as well as an ad campaign for adult juice boxes—Lewis was a popular frequent guest on NBC's late night shows. 

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

Lewis appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 22 times. What's more, he appeared on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman a staggering 48 times. The late night TV regular also appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012—and on the February 28 episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Fallon saw fit to give Lewis a tribute upon hearing the news of his passing. 

"Hey, guys, we had some sad news today," Fallon told his audience. "We just found out that Richard Lewis passed away, and he was a good friend of the show, a great guest. I think he was one of the greatest comedians to ever do it."

Fallon went on to recommend that people do some YouTube deep-diving to check out Richard Lewis's comedy

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A split of Jimmy Fallon and Richard Lewis

Jimmy Fallon remembers Richard Lewis on The Tonight Show

"He was unbelievable. I used to impersonate him all the time," Fallon recounted. "He was a good friend, would send me things. But his HBO specials, his whole character and walking and—"I’m doomed." Did you ever see the HBO special I’m Doomed?"

Lewis was known for putting his neuroses on full display in his routine, and Fallon, a massive comedy fan, shared one of his favorite Lewis bits from the 1990 special.

"He’d be a hypochondriac, he’d be just so upset about everything. The special he did was great, that he went to the hospital 'cause he thought he had a heart attack or something; he didn't. He’s like, 'This is terrible, Doctor.' He’s complaining, and the nurse goes, 'Sorry, Mr. Lewis, someone’s here to visit you—your biggest fan.'"

"And he goes, 'I don’t really --' She goes, 'It’s your biggest fan!' and a contortionist walks in. It’s just so funny. It’s so funny."


Fallon also noted Lewis's longtime recurring appearances on Curb as himself (sort of), including in the final season ending the series in 2024. 

"I just think he’s one of the greatest to ever do it," Fallon said. "Our thoughts are with his family and friends. We’re going to miss you, Richard Lewis."

Watch Richard Lewis on The Tonight Show and Letterman

Watch two of Richard Lewis's memorable appearances across NBC late night shows below, on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman.

Richard Lewis on Carson: April 11th, 1990

Richard Lewis's first Late Night with David Letterman appearance, February 25, 1982