Larry Lee Lewis brings a funny thing to Framingham

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By Lenny Megliola, Daily News Correspondent
Posted Jun 6, 2017 at 10:04 AM Updated Jun 6, 2017 at 11:43 AM

“It doesn’t take much prodding to get out of Larry Lee Lewis that he’s lived an up-and-down life, but it’s never been dull and, more important, he’s still around, making people laugh.

And talk about a late bloomer! He’s 70 years old. When he was 50 Lewis had an epiphany. Why not a show biz career? Heck, he wasn’t doing much except gambling and getting married - and divorced. He’s had five wives, the hook being he married one woman three times. That would be Julie. “She’s number 2, 4 and 5,” he said.

So anyway, he self-teaches himself to play the piano, boogie-woogie style with a nod to Jerry lee Lewis. See, Larry Lee Lewis’s real name is Larry Sneirson. His hometown is Newton, although the family moved around, mostly depending on the luck - or lack thereof - of his father’s propensity for gambling.

The sins of the father rubbed off on the son. “I was a sports bookie on and off for 30 years,” said Larry Lee Lewis. “I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it was. I was a hustler, a wheeler-dealer.” He still gambles.

But hey, at 50, he had a handle on playing the piano and got into open mic comedy. For the past 20 years he’s made a living at it. “I was the class clown in school,” he said. When his dad hit a low spot gambling the family moved from “a big fancy house in Newton to the Chelsea projects. My parents didn’t raise me, they LOWERED me.” When he was 12 they divorced.

Lewis was 21 when he first married. “We eloped. To Las Vegas.” Three years later, he was divorced. And so on. Lewis gave the real estate world a shot. It didn’t suit him.

So where’s Lewis crackin’ audiences up there days? Well, Framingham, for one. He’s been highlighting comedy night at China Gourmet on Rte. 9. Several years ago he did a monthly comedy show at Samba’s in Framingham on the other side of Route 9.

At China Gourmet, buffet goes with the act. The next gig is June 9, with special guest Steve Sweeney, the legendary Boston comedian. Sweeney has had a huge following in Boston comedy clubs for decades. “It’ll be a special show,” said Lewis. “It’s really my grand opening (at China Gourmet).”

Lewis concedes that “the comedy clubs aren’t a good gig for me. There’s a generation gap.” Which is why he works a lot of assisted living and senior center shows. “I cater to older crowds. They’re more responsible drinkers.”

Still, there aren’t many roads Lewis hasn’t pursued. Early in his career he played the popular Howard Johnson’s on Boylston Street, in the shadow of Fenway Park. He’s done a lot of radio and put on a Vaudeville show in Somerville. In 2002 the Improper Bostonian called Lewis’s act best production on a small stage.

“I’m not the biggest star, but I’m a full-time entertainer,” he said. Lewis lives half the year in Florida, where he does shows. His act runs from 45 minutes to an hour. “Comedy is very, very hard,” he said.

When he turned 50 he threw a birthday party for himself. The popular 70′s Motown Shirelles and then big-name comic Pat Cooper entertained. “Three of my ex-wives came,” Lewis said, proudly.

Working with Sweeney on Friday the 9th figures to be a blast. “The highlight of my career, playing a Chinese restaurant in Framingham,” Sweeney joked. “I hope they don’t throw chicken wings at me,” he said. “Throw them at Larry.” This won’t be Sweeney’s first swing through town. He played Amazing Things Art Center.

Sweeney has been in several movies, including “The Forger,” “The Equalizer” and “There’s Something About Mary.”
There’s something about Larry Lee Lewis too. The epiphany became the reality. He has gambled on himself and squeezed out a nice little career, swatting the piano keys and making people laugh. “When I turn 80, I’m going to semi-retire,” he said.

Now that’s funny. “

Reach Lenny Megliola at Follow on Twitter @lennymegs.