Barry Crimmins, Comedian and Activist, Dead at 64
Barry Crimmins, the beloved cult comic and advocate for victims of childhood sexual abuse, died Wednesday of cancer at the age of 64.
Crimmins’ wife, Helen, confirmed her husband’s death on Twitter early Thursday morning, writing, “Barry passed peacefully yesterday with Bobcat [Goldthwait] and I. He would want everyone to know that he cared deeply about mankind and wants you to carry on the good fight. Peace.”
Goldthwait, who chronicled Crimmins’ career and activism in his 2015 documentary, Call Me Lucky, paid tribute with a photo of his longtime friend on Instagram.
Others in the comedy world expressed their condolences and admiration, including Tom Arnold, John Hodgman and Judd Apatow. “Barry Crimmins was a compassionate, hilarious man who touched so many lives,” Apatow wrote. “He gave so much of himself to help other people. I hope his life inspires others to follow his example. And he was hilarious.”
Crimmins was a stalwart in the Boston stand-up scene during the Eighties and became known for his powerful monologues and scathing political satire. Along with performing, he founded two clubs, the Ding Ho and Stitches, where he produced an array of shows that featured burgeoning comics like Goldthwait, Steven Wright, Kevin Meaney and Paula Poundstone.
In the Nineties, Crimmins emerged as an activist against child pornography after discovering chat rooms for pedophiles on the nascent internet. A child-abuse survivor himself, Crimmins even testified in front of Congress about the issue in 1995.
In an interview with Rolling Stone tied to the release of Call Me Lucky, Crimmins recalled his testimony, especially squaring off with an attorney for AOL. “You can see the weariness on his face because I didn’t give him a fucking inch all day. It was like ‘No way, motherfucker. This is for these kids. Fuck you, Jack. Fuck you and your fucking wind-tunnel haircut.’ I bet he never got his ass kicked in the courtroom like he did that day. That’s a real education in the system because here I am, and the bastards . . . He gets my testimony and I don’t get his testimony? Fuck you. Fuck every one of you.”
Crimmins wrote regularly for the now-defunct Boston alt-weekly, The Phoenix, and served as a writer and correspondent for the left-leaning talk radio station Air America. He released two CDs of comedy, Strange Bedfellows (which also features Randy Credico, Will Durst and Jimmy Tingle), and solo record, Kill the Messenger. In 2016, he released a new stand-up special, Whatever Threatens You.
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