Launching his career as a standup comic, American performer Richard Belzer entered the 1970s as a member of an odd New York-based comedy troupe called Channel One. Anticipating the home video explosion by over a decade, Channel One staged satirical, scatological routines lampooning the banalities of television -- and staged them in front of TV cameras, which transmitted the routines to little TV monitors, which in turn were watched by the live audience. Some of the best sketches were assembled into an X-rated comedy feature, The Groove Tube (1970), which featured Belzer, Ken Shapiro, and a brash newcomer named Chevy Chase. For the next decade, Belzer played the comedy-club circuit, popped up as a talkshow guest, and appeared in occasional films like Fame (1982). He joined still another comedy troupe in 1983, which appeared nightly on the syndicated interview program Thicke of the Night. The host was Allan Thicke, and Belzer's comic cohorts included such incipient stars as Charles Fleischer, Chloe Webb and Gilbert Gottfried. Thicke of the Night was one of the more notorious bombs of the 1983-84 season, but it enabled Belzer to secure better guest-star bookings, and ultimately a hosting job on his own program, debuting in 1986 over the Lifetime Cable Service. It was on this series that wrestler Hulk Hogan, demonstrating a stranglehold on Belzer caused the host to lose consciousness -- which prompted a highly publicized lawsuit instigated by Belzer against the Hulkster. In the early 1990s, Richard Belzer could be seen as a non-comic regular on the TV series Homicide. His Homicide character, John Munch, would become one of the longest-running fictional creations on TV appearing in more than a half-dozen other television shows, most notably Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Worked as the original warm-up comedian for Saturday Night Live in 1975, and appeared in several early episodes.
- Appears briefly in the 1980 film Fame.
- Had roles in two Spike Lee movies, Get on the Bus and Girl 6.
- An avid conspiracy theorist, authored 1999's UFOs, JFK and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe.
- His best-known character, Det. John Munch, has made an appearance on more than six different series, including Homicide: Life on the Street, three Law & Order franchises, The X-Files and UPN's short-lived The Beat.
- Resides in France when not working in the U.S.