Barry Crimmins, the outspoken cult comic and activist, died on Wednesday at the age of 64, just weeks after disclosing his cancer diagnosis. Crimmins wife, Helen, revealed the news early Thursday morning with a tweet: “Barry passed peacefully yesterday with Bobcat [Goldthwait] and I. He would want everyone to know that he cared deeply about mankind and wants you to carry on the good fight. Peace.”
Goldthwait, who came up in the Boston comedy scene with Crimmins, was his close friend and collaborator. In 2015, he released a documentary, Call Me Lucky, chronicling Crimmins’ storied career and years of advocacy.
Crimmins rose to prominence in the 1980s, gaining a reputation for his gruff presentation and unflinching political diatribes. He also opened a pair of clubs, the Ding Ho and Stitches, venues that helped give a platform for then-young comedians like Goldthwait, Paula Poundstone, Steven Wright, and others.
In the early 1990s, Crimmins became one of the most prominent anti-pedophilia advocates of the Internet age. A victim of childhood rape and sexual abuse himself, he took to advocacy after discovering pedophile chatrooms in the early days of AOL. He testified before Congress regarding the issue in 1995, facing down a lawyer for AOL. “You can see the weariness on his face because I didn’t give him a fucking inch all day,” Crimmins told Rolling Stone during the Call Me Lucky press cycle. “It was like ‘No way, motherfucker. This is for these kids. Fuck you, Jack. Fuck you and your fucking wind-tunnel haircut.’ I bet he never got his ass kicked in the courtroom like he did that day.”
Crimmins was politically active in other areas, as well, writing a column for the now defunct alt-weekly The Phoenix and serving as an on-air correspondent for the left-leaning Air America talk-radio network. He released two comedy albums: the collaborative Strange Bedfellows with Randy Creedico, Will Durst, and Jimmy Tingle; and 1991’s Kill the Messenger. His last stand-up special, Whatever Threatens You, was released in 2016.