This past Friday comedian Robert Schimmel passed away at the age of 60. Schimmel died in a Phoenix hospice from injuries sustained in an August 26th car accident which left him in critical condition. He was was a passenger in a car driven by his daughter Aliyah, 19, that swerved to avoid an accident on a Phoenix highway, rolling the car over. Aliyah remains in the hospital in stable condition.
Schimmel was influenced greatly by Lenny Bruce and is best known for his comedy being dark, x-rated, and ridiculously funny. His life is one of true stories that almost seem to outrageous for even a daytime soap opera. From which he mined material that was at the same time extremely close to home, yet completely relateable. His edgy style got him banned from Late Night with Conan O’Brien and made him a hit on The Howard Stern Show (he was later unbanned from O’Brien). He’s written for comedians Jimmy Walker and Yakov Smirnoff, wrote for FOX’s In Living Color, and appeared on HBO comedy showcases hosted by Rodney Dangerfield.
It was on Stern’s show where Schimmel disclosed many details of his personal life which influenced his comedy. In 1998, he suffered a heart attack, two years later he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in June 2000. His treatments included chemotherapy and required long stays in the hospital. Schimmel’s cancer went into remission, during this he decided to return to his estranged wife Vicki. It was also during this time he also met his second, and much younger wife Melissa who was a friend of his daughter, Jessica. Schimmel would shortly thereafter have a child with Melissa, divorce Vicki, then marry Melissa.
A lot of Schimmel’s work around this time revolved around having a fully grown family, being an older man starting a new family with a younger woman, and his various illnesses in between. In May 2009, Schimmel got into a domestic argument with Melissa which resulted in his arrest, all charges were dropped due to lack of evidence of wrongdoing but it was the event that made Melissa file for divorce and push for custody of their two young children a few days later.
Schimmel’s woes didn’t end there, a return visit to the Howard Stern Show in early 2010 was where he announced he contracted cirrhosis of the liver as the result of a hepatitis C infection he received from a blood transfusion while he was in the Air Force as a young man. His cirrhosis had progressed to the point that he was in need of a liver transplant in order to survive. Schimmel told Stern he didn’t have much time to live if he did not get a liver transplant. Some ominous words from the comedian that now ring very true following his death.
In his lifetime, Schimmel released 5 comedy albums, 1 book, written for TV shows and recorded an HBO stand-up special. He’s also ranked at #76 on Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.