‘Brilliantly funny’ Bob Einstein, the comedian who created the goofball stuntman character known as Super Dave Osborne, died Wednesday at 76.
Deadline reported that Einstein, who was also well known for playing Larry David’s loyal friend Marty Funkhouser on HBO’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Einstein was the older brother of actor-filmmaker Albert Brooks, who was among the comedians, colleagues and fans that mourned Einstein on social media Wednesday. “You will be missed forever,” Brooks tweeted, calling his brother “a brilliantly funny man.”
Einstein, a two-time Emmy winner, started his career as a writer on ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.’ He won his first Emmy for his work on the late 1960s variety show and nabbed another, plus two nominations, for the short-lived 1970s series ‘Van Dyke and Company’, on which he was a writer and producer. He was also nominated twice for his writing work on ‘The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour’.
Einstein introduced his famed Super Dave Osborne character, an inept daredevil whose stunts inevitably went awry, in 1972 on ‘The John Byner Comedy Hour’. The character became an enduring fixture on late-night television — from Johnny Carson’s era on ‘The Tonight Show’ to ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ — and was the focus of a Showtime variety show, ‘Super Dave’, that first aired in 1987.
Einstein is probably best known to younger audiences as the long-suffering Funkhouser on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. His character, who first appeared in Season 4, was a longtime friend of Larry David’s character and was frequently caught in the crosshairs of Larry’s antics. Einstein appeared in the show’s recent ninth season, which premiered in September 2017 after a six-year hiatus.
“I’m in shock, I knew him forever,” Einstein’s ‘Curb’ co-star Richard Lewis tweeted Wednesday, calling the Funkhouser role “excruciatingly brilliant.”
“We lost a friend today. thanks for all of the laughs on Curb Your Enthusiasm,” tweeted Cheryl Hines, who plays Larry’s ex-wife on the show.
Others recalled Einstein’s memorable turn as George Bluth’s deadpan stand-in, Larry Middleman, on ‘Arrested Development’.
Einstein also holds the distinction of being the first comedian to appear twice on Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’, having been featured in both season one and Season nine.
In the season one instalment, Seinfeld recalls meeting Einstein on the set of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, where he did a multi-episode arc as himself in the show’s seventh season. The two comedians share a memorable scene in which Funkhouser insists on telling Seinfeld a wildly inappropriate joke. As the two recalled on ‘Comedians in Cars’, the scene marked the first time Seinfeld had heard the joke, and the boisterous laugh he lets out at the punchline was his actual reaction.
But as Seinfeld tells Einstein in ‘Comedians in Cars’, he had long been a fan, dating back to another character Einstein debuted on ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’: Officer Judy, a no-nonsense public servant who arrested Liberace for “speeding” on the piano in a fondly remembered segment.
“I was in love with you from that moment,” Seinfeld told Einstein. “I thought, ‘This is the funniest guy I’ve ever seen.’”