He may be remembered today as the one man who kept Sean Hannity in check for 13 years, or even as a radio talk-show giant before and after that, but Alan Colmes was at heart a stand-up comedian. Colmes died today, after recently taking a hiatus at the end of January to deal with lymphoma. He was 66.
“As I previously mentioned on the show last year, there would be times I would be taking off from the show to deal with a medical issue. This is why I’ve been out recently and will be out this week as well. But I will be back taking your calls as soon as I can,” Colmes told listeners on Jan. 30.
His family put out the following statement: “Alan Colmes passed away this morning after a brief illness. He was 66-years-old. He leaves his adoring and devoted wife, Jocelyn Elise Crowley. He was a great guy, brilliant, hysterical, and moral. He was fiercely loyal, and the only thing he loved more than his work was his life with Jocelyn. He will be missed. The family has asked for privacy during this very difficult time.”
Colmes was a native New Yorker, born from Ukrainian Jews, and graduated from Hofstra College in 1971 with a communications degree and time spent working at the college radio station.
His headshot still hangs on the wall of mugs at Comic Strip Live, where he was a regular in the late 1970s into the 1980s. At the time of this set in 1983, Colmes took the stage introduced as the morning radio guy at WABC and a substitute fill-in for Regis Phibin at Good Morning America.
Colmes took on the politics of the day from a slightly liberal slant. In the clip above, for instance, he opened his set by joking about how the United States had bombed Libya, but not before asking the Soviet Union for permission?
Colmes used the alias W. Alan B. Colmes on WABC to match the call sign, but later moved to other stations in the morning and afternoon in New York City and Boston, before getting syndicated nationally. His talk show eventually found distribution through FOX News, and Roger Ailes hired him to join Sean Hannity for Hannity & Colmes when FOX News Channel launched in 1996. They stayed together — Hannity on the extreme right, and Colmes providing the fairness and balance, until January 2009.
That final week, Colmes showed up on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report for a spoof segment with Stephen Colbert’s “Stephen Colbert” called Colbert & Colmes.
Colmes still showed up on FOX News from time to time in recent years as a correspondent or commentator.
From Hannity today: “Despite major political differences, we forged a deep friendship. Alan, in the midst of great sickness and illness, showed the single greatest amount of courage I’ve ever seen. And through it all, he showed his incredible wit and humor that was Alan’s signature throughout his entire life. I’m truly heartbroken at the loss of a dear friend.”