Richard Lewis is full of anxiety, but that’s the way he likes it. The comedian, who comes to the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts on Friday, Nov. 3, has been doing stand-up for 48 years. But it’s never easy.
“My sweet spot is misery. I look tormented, but in a pleasant way,” says Lewis, calling from the road in Philadelphia. “I never cared about anything except expressing myself. If the crowd loves it, I’m happy. If they don’t, I gave them my honest feelings.”
RETURN TO THE STAGE
Lewis is back on tour after seriously injuring himself at his Hollywood home almost a year and a half ago.
“I foolishly climbed on the roof to see if a leaf was stuck in a drain and fell,” he says. “It knocked me out for 16 months, which cost me two tours.”
These days, Lewis is back, furiously pacing the stage in his signature manner. Before each show, he holes up in his hotel room going over various premises to discuss onstage that night.
“I look over thousands of ideas, hoping that 10 or 15 minutes will stick,” Lewis says. “Every time I go up, it’s mostly all new material.”
Since turning 70 this summer, Lewis says he has felt more energized and engaged in his craft.
“I now feel crazier than ever,” says Lewis, who takes the stage to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” “I’m forced to ad-lib 25-35 percent of my show out of fear of not knowing what’s next. Every show is different, and I like it that way.”
Not only is Lewis back onstage, he recently returned to the TV screen in season 9 of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” on which he plays himself opposite his real-life buddy Larry David.
“I can’t have a better friend, but when it comes to food, he’s a diva,” Lewis says. “The waiters are so tortured by his ordering, their faces become like impressionistic paintings.”
Lewis recalls a time when the pair were in their 20s and he dragged David to group therapy.
“He lasted for eight minutes. It was 10 people whining and he left saying, ‘I don’t need your problems!’ ” Lewis recalls. “We all chased him down First Avenue, and he hid in a phone booth.”
Every word spoken on the show is their natural chemistry, as there’s no script.
“For the first episode, all I knew was my parakeet died, and he sent me a text. He’ll say, ‘We are at this party and I run into you . . . ACTION!’ ” Lewis says.
Despite the current political climate, Lewis stays away from the subject onstage.
“When people pay money to come see me, I know for a fact that if I come out slamming the president, I will alienate about 20 percent of the audience. They will start screaming stuff out, and the show is done,” Lewis says. “My comedy is about eviscerating myself. They love that.”
Still, Lewis wonders how long he will stay behind the mic.
“I don’t know how much longer I have to do this. I finally feel that I accomplished what I set out to do. But if I’m losing a step, I’ll know it and quietly stop,” he says. “I wish I got off stage looking and acting like Marcello Mastroianni, but it isn’t happening.”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 East Main St.
INFO 631-207-1313, patchoguetheatre.org
MORE COMEDY SHOWS
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3-4, at McGuire’s in Bohemia
INFO $22 plus two-item minimum; 631-467-5413, mcguires.govs.com
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Brokerage in Bellmore ($25 plus two-item minimum; 516-781-5233, brokerage.govs.com) and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at Governor’s in Levittown ($25 plus two-item minimum; 516-731-3358, govs.com)
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Nov. 11 at The Paramount in Huntington
INFO $24.50-$49.50, 631-673-7300, paramountny.com
‘Stuttering John’ Melendez
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Brokerage, Bellmore
INFO $25 plus two-item minimum