Quick Denis Leary Facts:
- Leary hails from Worcester, Massachusetts.
- He began doing stand-up comedy in Boston during the early 1980s.
- He gained mainstream recognition in the early '90s with a series of shorts on MTV.
- Leary has released two stand-up comedy albums and wrote a book in 2008.
- He has starred in over 45 films and two TV series, The Job and Rescue Me.
- In 2000, he stared the Leary Firefighters Foundation, which has donated over $2 million to fire departments in New York and Boston.
Denis Leary Overview:
In the Beginning:
Denis Colin Leary was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1957. Raised Irish Catholic by two Irish immigrant parents, Leary learned to fend for himself early on in life by scrapping with his siblings. He attended Boston's Emerson College (alongside comedians Mario Cantone and Steven Wright), graduating in 1979 and taking a job teaching writing at the college.
In the early 1980s, Leary began doing stand-up comedy and became a big part of the booming Boston comedy scene. He hosted his own regular show at Play It Again Sam and became a writer and player on friend and comic Lenny Clarke's Lenny Clarke's Late Show.
A Showcase on MTV:
In the late '80s, Leary began making appearances on the MTV game show Remote Control. A few years later, he started showing up all over the network -- only this time in a series of his own shorts. The black and white segments typically showcased Leary pacing behind a chain link fence, smoking and delivering long and angry rants about the things that bothered him. The style became his signature, and a new comedy star was born.
Denis Leary: No Cure for Cancer:
In 1993, Leary officially arrived with the release of his first stand-up album, No Cure for Cancer. The album, later turned into a cable special and book, featured trademark Leary rants about vegetarians, smoking, and political correctness, and featured perhaps his most famous bit -- the song "Asshole."
Around the time of No Cure's release, Leary began appearing in small parts in films -- including Who's the Man?, the first film from director Ted Demme (who had directed Leary's MTV shorts). Leary would team up with Demme again in 1994 for The Ref, the comedian's first starring role.
Denis Leary Films and More:
For the rest of the 1990s, Leary continued to act in films, including Judgment Night, Two If By Sea (which he co-wrote), Wag the Dog and The MatchMaker.
In 1997, he released his second stand-up album, Lock N' Load.
The Leary Firefighters Foundation:
After losing both a friend and a cousin to a 1999 Boston fire, the comic founded the Leary Firefighters Foundation in 2000. Over the course of the decade, the Foundation raised over $2.5 million for firefighters in Boston and New York, and an offshoot foundation (the Fund for New York's Bravest) raised over $2 million for families of firefighters killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Rescue Me and Why We Suck:
In 2000, Leary got his first starring vehicle on television on the single-camera sitcom The Job. Leary played a NYPD cop opposite fellow comics Lenny Clarke and Adam Ferrara. Despite positive critical response, the show was canceled after just one season.
In 2004, he returned to TV as alcoholic, divorced firefighter Tommy Gavin on the FX comedy/drama series Rescue Me. Leary's performance on the show earned him critical raves and award nominations.
In 2008, the comedian published his first original book, a series of humorous essays and rants called Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid.
Additional Denis Leary Facts
- Leary has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe for his performance on Rescue Me.
- In 2003, he was roasted by Comedy Central
- Leary's third cousin by marriage is comedian and talk show host Conan O'Brien.
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Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison, Lenny Clarke