Kevin Rooney, a stand-up comedian who won two Emmy Awards for his work as the writer of “Dennis Miller Live,” died at his home on July 19 after a battle with diabetes and end-stage kidney failure. He was 71 years old.
Rooney’s death was confirmed by his colleague Jay Mandyam.
“He was a refined storyteller and a modern day HL Mencken or Schopenhauer,” Mandyam said in a statement. “As grumpy as he was, he was always the funniest thing in the room and was generous and kind to everyone.”
Rooney briefly attended Lawrence College in the 1970s before enlisting in the military. In 1977, he began a comedy career by performing his first stand-up set in Washington, DC and capping his performance with a questionable baptism — by pouring a mug of beer over his head. Rooney then attended the University of Massachusetts, where he studied to become a teacher.
Rooney found his way back to stand-up after moving to New York City and then Los Angeles and becoming a regular on The Improv. There he met Jay Leno, with whom he collaborated on the late night host’s “What’s my beef” segments on “Late Night With David Letterman.” Leno also hired Rooney to write his comedy special, Jay Leno and the American Dream.
“He was the greatest muse a comedian could have,” Leno said of Rooney. “It’s a real voice. There are no gimmicks. He didn’t have a catchphrase. There was no funny look. When times were rough, they throw out the catchphrase or funny look. Kevin had none of it. I don’t know anyone who thought they were better than Kevin Rooney… We were all really happy when he succeeded. He was a guy who deserved it, a unique voice. Never derived from anyone else. It was that classic New England sarcastic voice. But there was a humanity behind it. Even if he said the most sarcastic thing. He will be greatly missed.”
Rooney continued to perform stand-up throughout the 20th century, appearing on “The Tonight Show”, “Late Night” and “The A-List”. He has also worked in writers’ rooms for sitcoms, appearing on The Golden Palace, The Naked Truth, Boston Common, My Wife and Kids, Brothers and Til Death.
Rooney received two consecutive Emmy Awards for contributions to HBO’s Dennis Miller Live. He also served as a mentor to many emerging comics, including Judd Apatow.
“Kevin Rooney was a scathing comedian, author, and political satirist. But more importantly, he was an incredibly kind friend and generous mentor to so many in our community,” Apatow said.
In the late 1990s, Rooney married singer, actress and writer Carole Raphaelle Davis. The couple split their time between Nice, France and the Hollywood Hills. The two worked together as fierce animal rights lawyers.
Rooney used to write daily in the last years of his life. According to Mandyam, he hated swindlers and former President Donald J. Trump.
Rooney is survived by Davis; his sister Rebecca; his brother Matthew; and his dogs Bugsy and Micheline.
https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/kevin-rooney-dead-david-letterman-jay-leno-1235324364/ Kevin Rooney is dead: comedian, Emmy-winner and late-night writer was 71 years old