Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock were other stars mentored at Richie Tienken’s club Comic Strip Live

By Naledi Ushe
March 01, 2021 07:22 PM
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Richie Tienken
Credit: Facebook

Richie Tienken – the founder and co-owner of Comic Strip Live comedy club in New York City – died on Saturday at age 75.

The comedian worked with actors Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld,  Adam Sandler and more during their early career days.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we have to post this at all. Comic Strip founder and owner Richie Tienken went to be with the Lord this past Saturday," the club shared on their Instagram page on Monday.

The continued, "This mans accomplishments will live on in the comedy world forever. We were blessed he was ours! ❤️you Richie Tienken!"

Author of Laughing Legends: How The Comic Strip Changed The Face of Comedy and personal friend of Tienken, Jeffrey Gurian, told Page Six the late comedy legend died "with his family able to say goodbye one at a time due to COVID."

Gurian added, "His wife Jeannie was the last to see him, and then he left, like he was waiting for her okay. He was 75." 

The author revealed Tienken had throat cancer. "It wasn't easy for him to speak," Gurian told the outlet. 

"We all thought he'd be here forever. He was a tower of strength and an icon in the world of comedy," he added.

Jerry Seinfeld
Credit: Manny Carabel/Getty

Seinfeld, 66, was one of Comic Strip Live's first talents. "The club opened on June 1, 1976, and on June 17, Seinfeld came in to audition. They rated him as 'good,' and said he should come back the next week to start performing," Gurian told Page Six.

The Jerry Before Seinfeld Netflix special that premiered in 2017 was filmed at Tienken's club.

Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy
| Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty

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Tienken later discovered Murphy, 59, as a teenager and worked as his manager for 10 years. The comedy club co-owner was also a producer in Murphy's movies Beverly Hills Cop II and The Golden Child and comedy specials, Raw and Delirious – both of which can be streamed on Netflix.

"I've made a lot of money in comedy because I was Eddie Murphy's manager," Tienken told Fox 5 NY in 2019.

RELATED VIDEO: Eddie Murphy & Arsenio Hall Explain Their on-Screen 'Chemistry': We're 'Friends in Real Life'

Rock, 56, whose career also took off as a result of performing at Comic Strip Live, wrote the intro to Gurian's book as an ode to his former mentor Tienken.

The club continued to be a home for younger comics such as Saturday Night Live's Leslie Jones, Colin Jost and Pete Davidson who tested their new material at the New York comedy haven. 

Tienken is survived by his wife Jeannie and their five children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.