Veteran comedian Rich Ramirez dies at 57

By | May 4, 2012 at 11:37 pm | 13 comments | News | Tags: , , ,

Rich Ramirez, a stand-up comedy veteran of 30 years, died tonight after sustaining severe head trauma. He was 57.

Due to his ongoing battle with liver disease — he had a liver transplant in 1997 — Ramirez had lost a tremendous amount of body weight and muscle mass in the last few years. In his weakened state, he collapsed Wednesday night at his home in New Jersey. Ramirez hit his head, which caused cerebral hemorrhaging. He was rushed to Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ, where he suffered two strokes and remained comatose until shortly after 8 pm tonight, when his family decided to let him go peacefully.

In addition to living with constant liver ailments, Ramirez was a colon cancer survivor. In 1999, he began performing a one-man show, Do You Want A Piece Of Me? nearly every year; the piece chronicled his battle with both conditions. “I create a little humor from it, which is not easy to do,” Ramirez said last year, about the show. “I’ve been blessed to be able to make people laugh and do what I love to do for a living.”

In addition to performing at stand-up clubs, colleges and corporate events, Ramirez had also appeared on Law & Order six times as well as the 1988 Tom Hanks and Sally Field comedy Punchline.

“I just saw him in the hospital today,” friend and comedian J.J. Ramirez (no relation) tells Laughspin. “He called me the night he fell about a gig we had just booked together in Chicago.” Ramirez continues: “He was very funny and a very clever writer. He could do Latin stuff and contemporary stuff. I was with him at the beginning of his career. He was a great guy and he’ll be very missed.”

“His jokes were so smart,” says another longtime friend, comedian Sara Contreras, who just performed with Ramirez two weeks ago. “Even when he did his Latino material, it was so embraceable, so cross cultural. Rich was a consummate professional.”

Ramirez, originally from the Bronx, is survived by his wife Cathy. A memorial service for friends and family is currently being planned. For now, you can watch Ramirez in action onstage, as well as a profile CNN produced on him in 1999.

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • wesleyleealan

    Rich was a really nice guy who recommended me for gigs that paid! I played gigs for him in the early ’80’s in the Bronx, and he was always positive and a true gentleman. His health deteriorated, but not his spirit. R.I.P. my friend…you were and are a true gem in this gutter we call stand-up comedy…



    I spoke with you that afternoon before the accident. You sounded very weak and fragile. I asked if you were able to get around, because you wanted to drop by my house to drop off some cassettes that your friend gave you, full of Latin music to transfter to MP3’s.  You were my friend since you were 15 years old.  We played softball for about 20 Years until you couldnt anymore but we always talked and that was important.  Bye my friend.

  • nathan payne

    RIP.Funny man

    • Canmillie

      Rip Rich Ramirez you were one of a kind and will not be forgotten..Esp at KB boys and girls club uv made a difference for all the kids uv taught….

  • Guest

    Very sorry to hear about this…funny guy. May God bless his family,friends and all who knew and loved him.

  • Lilski69

    This man was a true gift to be around. Funny and sweet all at the same time. He will truly be missed. Cove Haven will not be the same without you. Because of you I became and organ donor.

  • Dale

    Wonderful guy. Knew him from Rascals comedy club, where I worked for 6 years. A true loss of a great person and genuinely funny guy.

  • Lrivera69

    Rich Rameriz was a wonderful person and a great comedian. He will always be remembered in our hearts and souls. Will never be forgotten. Condolence to his family and friends.

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  • Carlos J. Santiago Jr.

    To those of us who knew him….he was not just one of the funniest comedians ever….he was a great human being….WE WILL MISS YOU…..ALOT!!!

  • Carmen L Mercado


  • Rick

    He knew “the right angle!”

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