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Late last month, Comedy Dynamics released Richard Jeni’s final televised special, A Big Steaming Pile of Me, marking the first time that all six of the late comedian’s records have been made available for purchase. In a career tragically cut short in March of 2007, when Jeni committed suicide, A Big Steaming Pile of Me reminds fans of just how good the comedian was at his trade.

Made available for purchase via Comedy Dynamics are:

The Beach Crowd, which is a collection of unreleased performances from 2002 and 2006 from Jeni’s personal collection. Recorded at the Comedy & Magic Club, it’s got Richard’s trademark quick-change personas, bits on whales, women, pot, and a whirlwind of imaginative improvs and hilarious audience interactions.

Richard Jeni’s Greatest Bits (1997) says it in the name, it’s the compilation of his best material, to the love and appreciation of his fans.

Platypus Man (1992), the hilarious HBO special about the mating habits of the platypus, and of man, was the inspiration for his sitcom of the same name.

A Good Catholic Boy (1997) this highly rated and critically acclaimed HBO special brings the audience to their feet with great riffs on late night infomercials, dating rituals, and more.

It’s hard to write this so-called ‘review’, on a personal level. Having grown up deeply immersed in stand-up comedy thanks to older brothers, Richard Jeni was by far one of the first comedians I had declared to be my favorite. Too young to pick up on all of the snarkiness Jeni had to offer, it was a bittersweet stroll down memory lane taking in the ultra-fast paced and scathing performance. Jeni suffered from clinical depression and had a history of schizophrenia, ultimately leading him to his fateful decision on that quiet March morning. A sufferer of clinical depression myself, I’m always torn between sadness and comfort when I think of Richard Jeni: sadness, obviously, that Jeni’s career successes could not outweigh his personal struggle; comfort in the shared experience of depression.

A Big Steaming Pile of Me is how I will prefer to remember Jeni: a charismatic, sharp-tongued pessimist who could point out subtle absurdities like no one’s business. Known as the “comedian’s comedian,” Jeni’s 25-year career encompassed thousands of live shows, five award-winning comedy specials for HBO and Showtime, a Command Performance at the White House, and semi-regular appearances on The Tonight Show during both Carson’s and Leno’s tenure. He’s been named one of the “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time” by Comedy Central, and won the popular vote for Best Male Stand-up at the American Comedy Awards.

What’s interesting to me about A Big Steaming Pile of Me is that, although Jeni is riffing on some topics relevant to the early 2000’s, it doesn’t come off as tired or outdated: Republicans still share the same over-arching and hypocritical ideals, and Michael Jackson will always be the one safe topic to joke about. Some things just never change.

If you’re unfamiliar with the great Richard Jeni’s work, do yourself a favor as a comedy fan and pick up his entire catalogue today. Jeni was one of the brightest comedians of his generation (and mine), a star whose light burned out far too soon. For those of you who admire Jeni’s work as much as I do, you finally have the opportunity to complete your library. Revisit the comedic mastermind that was Richard Jeni today!

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