Birth Date: August 18, 1957 / Age: 56
Birth Place: Worchester, Mass
Biography: Denis Leary (born August 18, 1957 in Worcester, Massachusetts) is an actor/comedian/writer/director, whose father immigrated to Worcester from Ireland. He is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, where he also taught comedy writing classes for five years after graduating. Leary is a distant cousin through marriage of Conan O'Brien; contrary to popular belief, they are not actually related through a recent common ancestor.
Leary first became famous through an MTV sketch in which he ranted about REM. He has also released two records of his stand-up comedy: No Cure for Cancer (1993) and Lock n' Load (1997). No Cure for Cancer was written with contributions from the English comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel when Leary was forced to stay over in London for a short period due to his son's premature birth there and ensuing health problems.
In 1994, his sardonic commentary song on the American lower-middle-class male, "Asshole", achieved much notoriety. It was voted #1 in a major Australian youth radio poll, the Triple J Hottest 100, and the video became a late-night MTV staple. Due to its explicit and controversial content, however, it received limited airplay on mainstream American radio stations.
Although he says he is most at home on stage doing stand-up, Leary has appeared as an actor in over 40 movies, including The Match Maker, The Virgin Suicides, The Ref, Wag the Dog, and Demolition Man, and has starred in two television series, The Job and Rescue Me. He also provided voices for characters in animated films such as the sabertoothed tiger 'Diego' in Ice Age and 'Francis' in A Bug's Life. Leary also produces numerous movies, television shows, and specials, including Comedy Central's Shorties Watching Shorties and the movie Blow, through his production company, Apostle.
For many years, Leary had been friends with fellow comedian Bill Hicks. However, when Hicks heard Leary's 1993 release No Cure For Cancer, he decided Leary was stealing his material, due to the perceived similarity in topics covered and some punchlines of Hicks', particularly those on Hicks' releases of 1989 (Sane Man) and 1990 (Dangerous). The friendship ended as a result, though Leary has said he wanted to patch things up before Hicks died in 1994.
While it has never been proven that Leary took any of his jokes from other comedians (a claim he fiercely denies), some comedians (notably Joe Rogan and Greg Giraldo) and especially fans loyal to Hicks consider aspects of Leary's act and persona to be stolen. However, many other comedians - including Jon Stewart, Janeane Garofalo, Colin Quinn, and Lenny Clarke - have formed close personal and professional relationships with Leary, which suggests that the opinion of him as a material thief is not shared by everyone within the profession.
On December 3, 1999, 6 firefighters from Leary's hometown of Worcester were killed in a massive warehouse fire. Among the dead were Leary's cousin, Jerry Lucey, and his close childhood friend, Lt. Tommy Spencer. In response, the comedian founded the Leary Firefighters Foundation, which has since distributed over $2.5 million (USD) to fire departments in the Worcester, Boston, and New York City areas for equipment, training materials, and new vehicles and facilities, since its creation in 2000.
A separate fund run by the Leary's foundation, the Fund for New York's Bravest, has distributed over $2 million (USD) to the families of the 343 firemen killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well as provided funding for necessities such as a new mobile command center, first responder training, and a high-rise simulator for the FDNY's training campus.
As the foundation's president, Leary has been active in all of the fundraising, and usually presents large checks and donated equipment personally. The close relationship he has developed with the FDNY, as well as individual firefighters across the New York/New England area, has resulted in Leary's most recent television show, Rescue Me, a drama-comedy on FX. In the pilot episode of the show, he is seen wearing a Leary Firefighter Foundation 9-11 memorial t-shirt.