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Bob Smith, gay comedian and writer, dies at age 59

Smith was the first openly gay man to have his own HBO stand-up special

Bob Smith, gay comedian and writer, dies at age 59
Bob Smith performing stand-up comedy in 1997.

Bob Smith, gay comedian and award-winning writer, died on Saturday, 20 January in his New York City home. The cause of his death was complications from ALS, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 59 years old.


Smith is best known for being the first openly gay male comedian to star in his own 30-minute HBO special back in 1994. He was also the first openly gay comic to appear on The Tonight Show.

After Smith’s pioneering performance on HBO’s Comedy Half-Hour, he made many television appearances, including on Politically Incorrect, The Late, Late Show, and Entertainment Tonight.
As a writer, Smith wrote for the MTV Video Awards, Roseanne, and MAD TV. He also wrote a collection of essays, titled Openly Bob, which won him the Lambda Literary Award for humor. He wrote a second essay collection, Way To Go, Smith!, which was nominated for the same award. He released his novel, Selfish and Perverse, in 2007.

Smith was a regular contributor for LGBTI publications including the Advocate and Out Magazine.

Smith entered the New York City comedy scene in the early 1980s. He teamed up with fellow gay comedians, Danny McWilliams and Jaffe Cohen, to form the comedy group Funny Gay Males. The group performed all over the world, including at Australia’s Gay Pride Mardi Gras and at the 1993 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights. The trio also became the first openly gay comedians to appear on national television as guests on Joan Rivers’ daytime talk show.

Loved ones Smith is survived by

Smith is survived by his partner, Michael Zam (co-creator of popular FX series, Feud: Bette and Joan); his two children, Xander and Madeline; his mother, Sue Smith; and his two brothers, James and Gregory.

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