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Richard stars as "Detective John Munch" on NBC's drama "Law & Order: SVU". Belzer reprises his acerbic character Detective John Munch “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” after first portraying Munch on NBC’s critically acclaimed drama series “Homicide: Life on the Street” for seven seasons. His character transferred from Baltimore to New York to join the crime unit. “This is one conspiracy in which I was a willing participant,” says Belzer, a renowned conspiracy theorist. In fact, Belzer has played Detective Munch on a record number of television series— “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Homicide,” “The X-Files,” and “The Beat.” The veteran stand-up comic, actor, talk-show host and author was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Due to his “uncontrollable wit,” Belzer was politely asked to leave every school he ever attended. He first worked as a reporter for the Bridgeport Post and several other newspapers around the country. This interest in journalism is traced directly to his days as a paperboy in his hometown. Belzer honed his life experiences into barbed comedic material drawn from other former jobs including teacher, census-taker, jewelry salesman and dockworker.
Belzer began his career in show business with a starring role in Groove Tube, the counterculture film that went on to become a cult classic. Since then, Belzer’s comedic talents have been featured in every entertainment medium from off-Broadway (“The National Lampoon Show” with Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and John Belushi) to radio (“Brink and Belzer” on WNBC) to film (“Fame,” “Author, Author,” “Night Shift” and “Scarface”). He also appeared as himself in the Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon.” His other film credits include “Species II,” “Get on the Bus,” “Girl 6,” “A Very Brady Sequel,” “North,” “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and “The Big Picture.” Additionally, Belzer starred in his own HBO comedy special, “Another Lone Nut,” and released a comedy CD of the same title. He hosted ABC’s primetime special “When Cars Attack,” starred in the six-part comedy Showtime series “The Richard Belzer Show,” hosted the live Lifetime talk show, “Hot Properties,” and Court TV’s “Crime Stories.”
Belzer is also the author of “UFOs, JFK and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Believe,” and is the co-author of “How to Be a Standup Comic.” He hosted and produced “The Belzer Connection, a series of conspiracy-theory prime time specials for the Sci-Fi Channel. He is currently writing, producing, and starring in a sketch comedy style feature film satire This is America for Madonna’s Maverick Films. A companion book is being published by Judith Regan’s imprint, Regan Books.
Belzer was honored by the New York Friars Club and the Toyota Comedy Festival as the honoree of the first ever roast that was open to the public. Comedians and friends on the dais included Roast master Paul Shaffer, Christopher Walken, Danny Aiello, Barry Levinson, Robert Klein, Bill Maher, SVU co-stars Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T, and Dann Florek, and Law & Order’s Jerry Orbach. Belzer and his wife, actress Harlee McBride, live in New York City while filming the series and in France during the remainder of the year.
Belzer was born on August 4, 1944, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he grew up with his parents and older brother. He worked as a paperboy and became known in school for his uncontrollable wit. After high school he was a reporter for the Bridgeport Post. He unsuccessfully attended junior college and later enlisted in the Army. He soon realized it was a mistake and tried to get out. After the Army, Belzer moved to New York City and began working as a stand-up comic. He participated in the Channel One comedy group that satirized television and became the basis for the cult movie The Groove Tube. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Belzer became an occasional film actor. He is noted for his small roles in Fame, Night Shift, and Scarface.
More fun stuff about Richard Belzer
Wrestler Hulk Hogan hurt him while demonstrating a wrestling move on a 1986 TV show called 'Hot Properties'. He was knocked unconscious and required stitches on his head. He sued Hulk for $5 million, but later settled out of court.
Is a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Radio Show.
Has played the same character, Detective John Munch, on 5 different TV shows: "Homicide: Life on the Street" (1993) (originating series), "Law & Order" (1990) (crossovers), "The X Files" (1993) (crossover), "The Beat" (2000) (guest-appearance in the short-lived UPN series), and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999), where he currently stars.
Testified on behalf of a low-level criminal who ran onto the set of "Homicide: Life on the Street" (1993) while fleeing actual Baltimore police and surrendered to the actors; Belzer said the look on the guy's face was sufficient punishment
Cousin of Henry Winkler.
Along with Jerry Orbach, he is one of only two actors to play the same character (Detective John Munch) on five different television series: 'Homicide: Life on the Street', 'Law & Order', 'The X Files', 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' and 'The Beat'.
Richard Belzer: A ''stand-up'' journalist
He once sued Hulk Hogan for dropping him on his head. Richard Belzer, or "the Belz," has a reputation for being a bit of a cynic in the entertainment industry. A "stand-up journalist," he is known for his eccentricity, his intellect, and his once shadowy presence in the world of standup comedy. A veteran actor and comedian, he holds a unique record for playing the same character, Detective John Munch, on five different television shows. The role originated on the series Homicide: Life on the Street and the character crossed over to Law & Order and the popular X-Files, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and finally, The Beat. Belzer's debut came with a starring role on The Groove Tube in the early '70s. He also had roles in the legendary movies Author! Author!, Fame, and Scarface. Before becoming a TV regular, Belzer hosted a six-part comedy special series for Cinemax, simply called The Richard Belzer Show. He also had his own HBO special: Another Lone Nut, which he recorded for audio. Belzer has appeared numerous times as the host of SNL (for the first time in 1978) and made myriad appearances on The Tonight Show (spanning three of its hosts), as well as frequently visiting the set of David Letterman's shows. He had recurring guest roles on two network shows: The Flash and Lois &Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Belzer has written a book, How to Be a Stand-Up Comic, and even though it's a satirical look at the business of standup comedy, many comedians stake claim that Belzer has been profoundly influential to their work. He wrote a second book, UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe, in May 2000. Richard Belzer was kicked out of many schools throughout his youth. His mother died of breast cancer when he was 18, and his father committed suicide when Belzer was 22. He has had three wives and since 1972 has been married to actress Harlee MacBride, who has a recurring role on Homicide: Life on the Street.
Richard Belzer: UFOs, JFK, and Elvis
Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe.
Is it just a coincidence that Richard Belzer plays a detective on the hit NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street? Maybe. But the fact is, when he's not busting criminals on TV, the acid-tongued, legendary search-and-destroy comic known affectionately as "The Belz" is doing real-life detective work: searching out evidence, sifting through long-buried facts, and destroying popular misconceptions involving everything from the JFK assassination ("There's only one living member of the Warren Commission, and that's Gerald Ford. He's also the dumbest member of the Warren Commission. Coincidence?") and the existence of UFOs to secret germ warfare and those ominous visits (long before the movie) from men in black.
In UFOs, JFK, and Elvis, the distinguished statesman of stand-up comedy tackles some of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups this side of Roswell. Just what is it that they don't want you to know about the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and John Lennon? Alien abductions and the "face" on Mars? The downing of TWA Flight 800? The ancient order of the Freemasons and evidence of extraterrestrial experimentation?
Finally, one lone "nut" exposes the conspiracy to keep conspiracies a dirty little secret, standing up to the shadowy forces that would have us believe that Oswald acted alone, those lights in the sky are weather balloons, and fluoridated water is good for you (yeah, right). "Some of the smartest people I know . . . find it easier--and certainly more comforting--to believe that America is the only country on earth with no conspiracies at all." Just remember: do not ask on whom The Belz has told--he's told on them.
"I'm not asking you to believe every conspiracy theory you'll find in this book. . . . I didn't write this book to give you all the answers. The Warren Commission did that, and the answers were all wrong. I wrote this book to inspire you to do what the powers that be wish you wouldn't: to question authority . . . and to keep an eye out for Elvis."--
Richard Belzer is perhaps best known today for his starring role as Detective Munch in the TV police drama “Homicide.” He has also appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and is a frequent guest of the Howard Stern Radio Show. When he is not busting criminals on TV, the legendary search-and-destroy comic known is doing real-life detective work: searching out evidence, sifting through long-buried facts, and destroying popular misconceptions involving everything from the JFK assassination and the existence of UFOs to secret germ warfare and those ominous visits (long before the movie) from men in black. Richard Belzer currently resides in New York with his wife of 19 years Harlee McBride.
Richard Belzer stars in Law & Order : Special Victims Unit
This hard-hitting and emotional companion series to NBC’s “Law & Order” chronicles the life and crimes of the elite Special Victims Unit of the New York Police Department.
Although “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” carries the brand name “Law & Order,” the newer program has established a strong unique identity and has proven itself as a hit in its own right. In the 2002-03 season, the series broke into the Top 10 and garnered an Emmy nomination for guest-star Barbara Barrie.
The drama follows Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni, “Runaway Bride,” “Oz”), a seasoned veteran of the unit who has seen it all, and his partner, Olivia Benson (Emmy nominated Mariska Hargitay, NBC’s “ER”), whose difficult past is the reason she joined the unit.
John Munch (Richard Belzer, “Homicide: Life on the Street”), a transfer from Baltimore’s homicide unit, who brings his acerbic wit, conspiracy theories and street-honed investigative skills. Munch is partnered with Det. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola (Ice-T, “Players,” “New Jack City”), whose unique sense of humor and investigative experience make him a formidable match for Munch.
Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak (new cast regular Diane Neal, “Hack” and “Ed”) adds a legal component to the series through her efforts to bring closure to the intense investigations. Also aiding the detectives is forensic psychiatrist George Huang (B.D. Wong, “Oz”), whose insight into the minds of the accused often provides significant clues that lead to the resolution of a case.
Richard Belzer returned to stand-up
Guess who I saw Saturday night.
Go on; guess.
I'll be your best friend.
Jeez, I ask you for one little thing and this is the thanks I get? Well forget you, clown.
No, really, guess who I saw last Saturday.
I bet about half of you were expecting Billy Boyd. Alas, no, but this was just as good.
After six years, Belzer has returned to stand-up. Last weekend, he did a show at the Keswick Theatre in Philadelphia and, thanks to my most excellent brother and sister, I was right there in the twenty-eighth row. Woo.
He looked great – black shades, standard all black Armani, skinny tie, and those very cool black-and-white wingtips. I wish I had been a little closer. I'm sure Holden was quite happy with where we were. He has, after all, been with me in the 10th row at a Penn & Teller show. Believe me, I am not a very charming girlfriend when I am only ten rows from one of my idols. (You should have seen me the night we were close enough for Penn to spit on my sister. My sister wasn't too happy, but I was.) Twenty-eight rows back, I'm still not that charming, but I'm also not so ego crushing in my glee.
Anyway, for six years away from stand-up, Belzer not only looked good but he was also pretty funny. He did some stuff that I wasn't too crazy about: for some reason, he had a band and he sang quite a bit. He came out and sang “Satisfaction” while imitating Mick Jagger. And while I could appreciate the inherent quality of his Jagger impression, I didn't think it was “I'm-watching-one-of-the-greats-of-stand-up-comedy” funny. A couple of the musical numbers were like that (apparently musical numbers are his shtick this time around): he sang “Cellblock Tango” from Chicago and changed the words to “SHE had it coming” and while it was cute, again it wasn't up to his usual standard.
Although, I guess that's just more proof of the old adage: “No matter how successful we are, we always want to be doing something else.” (Hmmm. Is that really an adage or did I just make that up?) Poor Belz, like so many other non-music industry celebrities (Penn and Billy included; I don't know about French, though), really wants to be a singer/musician. Meanwhile, all the musicians want to be actors. Not many of them seem to want to be stand-up comics or magicians, but that might be just too much of a niche market for the likes of Lance Bass and Jon Bon Jovi.
But like I said, he also did some great stuff, like his classic “Jazz for Jesus” (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE because you know what a sucker I am for Jesus humor); a story about when he was a gopher for Miles Davis; this thing where he made up lyrics for the Law & Order theme song (you know I loved that), and a parody of Springsteen's concert monologues that had me in hysterics (So I went out and stole a bunch of dogs and sold 'em and bought my own car).
I suspect this performance was a rehearsal for an eventual tour, maybe an HBO special. He was probably trying out material, seeing what worked and what didn't. Like he'd ever take my advice, but I'd suggest cutting the Stones number and the Chicago song and do more non-musical stuff to balance the good songs. Even with the extra musical numbers, it was still a dream come true to see him do stand-up live.
Unfortunately, he didn't come out to the lobby after the show to mingle with the fans, like Penn & Teller do (No, I don't know why I keep drawing this bizarre comparison between The Belz and Penn & Teller). This was particularly unfortunate as I was looking especially fetching and was, by far, the cutest chick there. Of course, that had more to do with the fact that the median age of the audience was something like 56.5 – a bizarre demographic that I am unable to explain – than the possibility that I am THAT good-looking. The predominance of AARP apprentices would have worked in my favor, if the Belz had come out to sign autographs. I would have opened my hazel eyes really wide, and he would have fallen under my spell. You know, if I had been able to squeak out more than “hi”, which is the only thing I have said to Penn Jilette on three separate occasions. Exactly like that, too: hi. In this tiny, whispery little “I-think-I-am-going-to-pass-out-because-I-am-standing-close-enough-to-kiss-you-if-I-stood-up-on-tiptoe-and-I-was-crazy-enough-to-do-a-thing-like-that” voice. Although, those times I did open my eyes all wide and that seemed to be enough for Penn to fall under my spell for a minute or so. Don't worry, I won't tell THAT story AGAIN. (If you've never heard it and you want to know, email me and I'll tell you. Just so's those who've heard it a million times don't have to hear it yet again).
But, no, Belzer doesn't do the meet and greet thing. Another thing I'm sure Holden was quite appreciative of, since that meant he didn't have to spend the forty minute car ride home listening to: “Do you really think he thought I was cute…No, seriously. Really…Did you see how he looked at me…He didn't look at those other people like that…. blah, blah, blah.” I swear, I am worse now as an adult than I was when I was 12.
After the show, we ran into Monty, one of Holden's old stand-up buddies. He was there with his mom and his new fiancée. He called me “Amy”. Which, frankly, just pissed me off. Amy? AMY? What the fuck? This man has been in my house (well, my old-pre-breaking-up-with-Holden house) several times; I even think I've fed him once or twice. And even I didn't feed him, I did get him (and Holden) a weekly gig at Bar Noir by calling in some favors and friendship cards with the owner. And then not only does he call me by the wrong name, it's a name so far removed from my real name and who and what I am, he might as well have called me Steve. Not that there's anything wrong with the name Amy, but, believe me, I do not look anything like an Amy.
He did compliment my hair, but that's not surprising since I was wearing it in this style that apparently all comedians like because I used to get compliments on it from them when Holden was doing the circuit. Naturally, I wore it that way hoping that if I met The Belz, he might find it attractive. You know, maybe the hairstyle works on all comedians not just poor, unpaid, amateur ones.
But whatever. Monty HATED The Belz. Said he was personally insulted by Belzer's cavalier attitude towards the audience. I just smiled and refrained from asking him if he's ever actually Richard Belzer before that evening. Cavalier is Belzer's style. Duh.
But Monty also liked the opening act: this total hack who Holden and I knew by reputation during the old stand-up days. The hack used to do mid-spots at the Cabaret and, according to Holden who still keeps tabs on what goes on around the Philly circuit, he still does. Four years later, he's still doing those mid-spots, only now he occasionally gets to open for A-tier comics who come through the city. He's still a total hack, though. My God, it was appalling how clichéd and tired his material was. All the differences between his wife's Italian family and his Irish one. Gee, isn't that the entire premise of King of Queens? Kevin James must be shaking in his shoes. Lots of “women do this, but men do that” crap: My wife is the one who wants the house remodeled, but I'm the one who has to remodel it. Ugh. Some really inappropriate parody of black militant culture in terms of being left-handed: Righty is holding me down, man. Imitating an old Jewish guy for a cheap laugh to close. Blech.
The worst is that the audience ate this jerk up. Give 'em a few drinks and an assigned seat in an auditorium and people will laugh at the cheapest, most hackneyed crap. My only consolation is that hacks like that don't get the big spots, ever. This guy will be doing C-tier spots his entire life.
And Monty liked this guy. (Although that shouldn't surprise me because I never though Monty was that funny.) But it was sort of galling to hear him go on about The Hack, because back in the day (Jeez, I talk like it was 1956 or something), Monty knew The Hack, had worked with The Hack, and used to tell anyone who'd listen how untalented The Hack was. And now, four years later, according to Monty: 1) he's a comic genius and 2) he (Monty) never said that he wasn't. Apparently, Monty's been doing a B.A. in Brown-Nosing with a Minor in Exhibiting as Little Self-Respect as Possible since we've seen him last.
Which is probably because Monty is making another big push at jumping from unpaid, open-mic regular and five-minute-set local opener to paid (well, a pittance) mid-spot warm up. I guess when you want that mid-spot, you can't afford to make judgments on the jerks that are working those spots. He's done a few things at the Cabaret and something at the Five Spot, but he crashed and burned there. We told him we'd come see him, mostly because we want to see if he's gotten any better. It just makes me sad. Monty and The Hack are doing mid-spots while Holden had to get out because nobody would give him a shot. God only knows what happened Dave Race who was the best out of that bunch (and I'm not just saying that because he liked my hair and always told Holden that I was cute). He took off for L.A., never to be heard from again. At least Regina is working; she was always good.
And that leads me to my latest desire: On the way home, Holden and I were talking about how his material was so much more elegant and original and FUNNY than the shit that The Hack and Monty and the others who did Bar Noir with them were doing. It would have gotten him noticed if he could have kept with it. And not just noticed for mid-spots, either. Some of his stuff could have gotten him to at least the B-tier with guys like Dave Attell (who is GREAT, GREAT, GREAT by the way). And, Holden, who has had the time to think about this, said that his problem wasn't the material, it was that he doesn't have the “performance gene”. He got too nervous before shows and it didn't fade while he was onstage. The smallest thing, like a wobbly mic stand or a cough in the audience, could through him off. And he said that he's come to realize that despite the quality of his material, he couldn't have hacked (pardon the pun) it as a comic. Which, looking back and remembering his constant dry-heaving before, during, and after performances, I can say is a fair assessment.
Then he said, “Now you, Kate; you could do the performance part no problem. You'd be good at it. You're a funny girl.”
And I said, “Yeah, but I can't write material for shit” (Which is true – the smart ass stuff I write here wouldn't translate well into stand-up.)
And he said, “You could do my material. I bet my 'I Saw You Ad/Stalker' bit would be even funnier with you doing it, since you're a girl.”
And I said, “I'd totally do it, you know.”
And Holden laughed and changed the subject. “So I bet your favorite part of Belzer's act was the Springsteen thing.”
But now that he's put the idea into my mind, I cannot stop thinking about it. Suddenly, I am compelled to do stand-up comedy. I know I could kill with Holden's material, and female comics are much rarer than male, so I'd have a better shot at getting out of the drudgery of open mics. Besides, I'm just so damn cute that all I'd have to do was open my eyes real wide and everyone would fall under my spell.
Yeah, and then, after I conquer the comedy world (you know, my own HBO special, headlining Comic Relief, having Jerry Seinfeld proclaim me his successor as Empress of the Comedy Circuit), I could start a production company with Billy and French (don't ask me how I'd get the two of them together) and we could make charming independent films that win Sundance every single year and they could take turns playing the leads opposite me (you know that way, I could kiss them without it being like I was cheating on Holden, particularly since I'd need him to write me new material). And I could actually say more than “hi” to Penn and he could teach me how to do magic and I could finally write that novel about the priest and his brother and the brother's magician's-assistant girlfriend, and then after it sits on top of the New York Times' = bestseller's lists for months and months, and Oprah tells everyone to read it, Billy, French and I could make it into a movie with Billy as the priest, French as his brother, and me as the brother's magician's-assistant girlfriend (don't worry, the brother's girlfriend and the priest have an affair, so I'm covered both ways). And Penn could make a cameo as the magician and maybe one day I'd even meet The Belz at Comic Relief or some Improv Anniversary party or something and I could tell him how seeing him that night at the Keswick Theater in Philadelphia launched my career and maybe then he might even take my advice about not doing so much singing.
Whew. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The first step is convincing Holden to write me some material. Then I can work on conquering the entertainment industry.