A month after revealing on Twitter that he’d been diagnosed with cancer and that his prognosis wasn’t a good one, comedian, activist, political satirist, and influential force and leader of the Boston comedy scene Barry Crimmins has died. Crimmins’s wife Helen, who is battling cancer herself, announced the news via Barry’s Twitter account that he passed away yesterday, complete with a message to the world to “carry on the good fight.” Crimmins was 64 years old.
Crimmins released his first standup special Whatever Threatens You in 2016, and he wrote a book titled Never Shake Hands with a War Criminal in 2004. In addition to his long comedy career – including helping launch the Boston standup scene in the ‘80s – Crimmins revealed during an early ‘90s standup set that he had been raped as a child. After that he became fierce advocate for victims of child sexual abuse and even testified about AOL’s complicity in child pornography to Congress in 1995. Crimmins was also outspoken when it came to the many child abuse scandals and coverups in the Catholic Church and had a long-running bit on Twitter where he asked the Pope to excommunicate him. Crimmins’s comedy career and activism were chronicled in Bobcat Goldthwait’s documentary Call Me Lucky, which premiered at Sundance in 2015. As Crimmins told us when we interviewed him about the documentary that year, “Silence is evil’s number one ally, and I’ve got a heck of a sound system to use.”