Richard Lewis is the interview from hell.
The 61-year-old comedian – credited with creating the “from hell” adage – mumbles, speaks at a furious pace and often goes off on tangents. Still, not unlike the Lewis on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” this stream-of-consciousness approach has charm.
Lewis will take the stage at Lisner Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. after appearing on talk shows like “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “David Letterman” and “The View,” as part of his “Misery Loves Company” tour.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in New Jersey, Lewis’ brand of comedy is not the first to channel neurosis. But what differentiates the “Prince of Pain” from other comedians is the ease with which he transitions from his public to private persona.
Lewis, who plays himself on Larry David’s HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” said that at times even he is not fully aware of the absurd plots that develop on the show, aside from his specific scenes, which rely heavily on improvised dialogue.
“I feel like an alien playing myself. The director yells ‘Action,’ and then ‘Action’ for what? Just act like myself and yell at my friend?” Lewis said of working with David, his close friend.
“I never know what I’m doing,” he added.
It is no secret to fans that Lewis has dealt with alcohol and drug addiction. In fact, much of Lewis’ success is built on his discussing these conflicts.
His fan base is broad, he said, noting that he might encounter a 300-pound ex-junkie thanking him for his book, “The Other Great Depression,” and in the next moment be approached by a preteen girl because of his role as the liberal rabbi on “7th Heaven.” He said that his approachability sometimes lends itself to more inappropriate meetings, however. Like at funerals.
“As the casket was lowering, someone actually came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I love Curb. What’s Larry David really like?’ It was crazy,” Lewis said.
Despite his success with books and on television, Lewis considers stand-up comedy his first love. After graduating from Ohio State University, Lewis said he had little direction. What he did have, he said, was a strong passion for the arts – especially comedy.
He said a troubled home life and a battle with alcoholism led him to approach comedy and his audience in a different way.
“When things in my life are really going haywire, I use the audience as a type of group therapy. And if I get laughs, hey, it’s a type of validation,” he said.
After “Misery Loves Company,” Lewis will reprise the role of himself when “Curb Your Enthusiasm” begins production on its seventh season.
Tickets for “Misery Loves Company” are available at Ticketmaster or through Lisner at www.lisner.org.