The Dog Bites Interview: Richard Lewis

In which the tormented comedian sucks up to our items column by barking. Right. Like a dog.

The phone rings. We sit hunched over with bad posture, running our fingers nervously through our hair, dressed in black from head to toe, Prozac within reach. We know what awaits us. It's the Prince of Pain, Richard Lewis, comedian from hell, calling to promote his show at Cobb's this week. Dog Bites is ready. Lewis immediately goes into a rant about 90 things at once, but somehow we manage to rein him in. Sort of. We've barked up this tree before ...

Dog Bites: So you're back in San Francisco. Any neuroses particular to our fair city?

Richard Lewis: I blame the long walks I've taken up the steep streets of San Francisco for several bouts with impotency. And, tragically, even though I'm a Cancer, I'm frightened of water. It doesn't mellow me out like my other Cancerian friends. I end up in a fetal position.

DB: Cobb's is relatively near the water.

RL: They're moving Cobb's for the week I'm here.

DB: No, they're not. Did you know jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge is the number-one suicide method of choice? We guess it wouldn't be yours.

RL: Let me make this clear: I never contemplate suicide. I'm 11 years in recovery, I'm acting more than ever, I'm doing the best shows of my career, I'm working with my oldest friend, Larry David, for the fifth year on Curb Your Enthusiasm, I'm a fine whiner, doors are opening everywhere. But I do suffer from many eating disorders.

DB: Does San Francisco trigger any of them?

RL: I have a sugar problem. People come here for lobster, all the great seafood. I won't go to a restaurant. I go to Ghirardelli Square and get chocolate in every fish shape.

DB: Chocolate makes us think of sex. What was your best sexual experience in San Francisco?

RL: In the old boozing days, in San Francisco, after the second show and 20 drinks, I would have to say pre-dawn, alone.

DB: We knew you'd go there. Your worst?

RL: I tried to live out my S.F. rock 'n' roll fantasies with hot comedy groupies, but I was a disaster in the '80s. I hope they don't all come out to Cobb's to heckle me.

DB: Any standout babes? Is it all a blur?

RL: I think I dated a stripper named Blur. ARRRROOOOFFF!!!!!!!!

DB: Was that supposed to be a bark?

RL: I'm sucking up to your column. AAAAHHHRRRRRFFFFFF!!!!!!!

DB: Please stop barking at us. It doesn't even sound like a bark. More like an owl -- or a drowning seal.

RL: I'm being a Dog Bites! AAARRROOOOFFFF!!

DB: You are not Dog Bites. We are Dog Bites. So what's the difference between playing such a liberal town like ours and say, Decatur, Georgia?

RL: Look, here's the deal: After 35 years, people know what they're gonna get. I just did six concerts in Texas, some of the best in my career. Even though a small majority of the audience believed Jews have tails, I still got a standing ovation. I accept how they were brought up. I went onstage, started a discussion, I'm Jewish, I'm a liberal, I'm a Democrat, I'm for Kerry, let's start there. Then I talked about Jesus, and the Rapture ....

DB: By the time this comes out, the election will be over. A dog biscuit for your thoughts ...

RL: I was Democrat in my mother's womb. I will either be onstage, ecstatic with President Kerry, or I'll be on my way out of the country.

DB: Like Alec Baldwin was?

RL: Look, being in the war is one thing. But it's First Amendment rights and the lack of separation of church and state that is making me so crazed. I can't bear it! If there was a President Leiberman, and God forbid, he got loaded and called Rabbi Schlomo, and the Rabbi told him God said to bomb Aruba, it'd be the same thing! It's not right!

DB: What did you think of our Mayor Gavin Newsom passing the Gay Marriage law?

RL: Look, every city, every state, every mayor has a different spin on it. I'm for civil rights, gay rights, all of it, but this country is very divided. I don't understand how any gay, lesbian, or person of color could be a Republican. I do not get it. The bottom line is the Constitution, and I can't take Bush spouting out his private religious beliefs at its expense. There is no one religion that is better than another. I'm a spiritual guy. What about my agnostic and atheist friends, aren't they American??? (His voice rising) If Bush wins, I'm not leaving, I'm gonna fight sooooooo hard to counteract this thing, harder than when I worked long hours for Clinton. I'LL BE MORE AMERICAN THAN EVER!!!

DB: We had no idea you were so political. Would you ever run for office?

RL: You betcha. Dog Catcher!! WHOOOOOOOOAARRRHHHHFFFF!!

(Kimberlye Gold)

 
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