Karen Fratti
September 03, 2017 11:45 am
Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images

We are sad to report that Curb Your Enthusiasm actor Shelley Berman died at age 92 on Friday; his publicist confirmed the news. To many of us, he was Larry David’s dad on Curb. But he was more than just an actor — he was a comedic legend.

Berman pioneered the “sit down” style of stand-up comedy that most of us likely take for granted; it’s defined by a lot of stream-of-consciousness storytelling and jokes about nothing (in a good way, of course). He came up on stages in the 1950s and ’60s, alongside Bob Newhart and Mort Sahl, and won the very first Best Comedy Album at the Grammys in 1959. Later, he moved over to television, appearing in Bewitched, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and even Boston Legal. In 2008, he received an Emmy nomination for his work on Curb.

In addition to changing the face of comedy, Berman also wrote books and taught writing for over 20 years at the University of Southern California. Berman said of his writing career:

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Without Berman, there would be no nervous, anxiety-fueled stand-up comedy, like Jerry Seinfeld’s or Marc Maron’s.

On Twitter, comedians have begun offering tributes to Berman, showing just how beloved he was.

Here’s one of his early, iconic routines.

But he wasn’t always so PG-rated. Back in 1959, Time called him one of the new “sick” comics, because he had routines in which he would recount sloppy kisses, or recall the damage he did while drunk at a party the night before. Basically, he was making ironic memes before there even was such a thing.

Berman died of complications from Alzheimer’s and is survived by his wife of 70 years, Susan, his daughter Rachel, and two grandsons. He had a son named Joshua who died in 1977 from cancer.

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