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Creator / Denis Leary

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"Life sucks; get a fuckin' helmet, alright?!"

"'I'm not happy!' I'm not happy!' Nobody's "happy"! Happiness comes in small doses — it's a cigarette, or a chocolate chip cookie or a five-second orgasm; that's all it is, okay?! You cum, you eat the cookie, you smoke the butt, you go to sleep, you wake up in the morning and you go to fucking work! That is it, end of fucking list!"

Denis Colin Leary (born August 18, 1957) is an Irish-American stand-up comedian and actor. His routines involve a deeply cutting, rambling, profane Motor Mouth style, and is not afraid to go after whatever he damn well feels like.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Irish Catholic immigrants, Leary has unsurprisingly shown long-standing pride in his Irish heritage, and does not apologize for his love of the Boston Red Sox, the Bruins, or Boston in general (he even forgave Bill Buckner, even though it seemed no one else will).

He's related, through various marriages, to Conan O'Brien. He's also an old friend of Jon Stewart, and was a regular guest on The Daily Show during Stewart's tenure.

Due to a personal rift between Leary and Bill Hicks, fueled by allegations of plagiarizing Hicks' material, it's best not to mention him around fans of Hicks.

He's appeared in more than 40 films, including:

TV Series involving him in some way include:

Tropes associated with Denis Leary:

  • Annoying Arrows: In No Cure For Cancer he relates a story (retold in Why We Suck) about how when he was a kid, his brother and brother's friend once shot him in the head with an arrow. The two of them then proceeded to run away and Denis' father actually pulled the arrow out before taking him to the hospital, but only at the insistence of his mother; Denis' dad just told him to put a Band-Aid on it.
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Old Saint Nick's got bourbon breath/It's so cold you could catch your death/A cop sold me some crystal meth/It's a Merry fuckin' Christmas!
  • As Himself: In the introductory announcement to No Cure for Cancer:
    Ladies and gentlemen, due to illness, tonight the part of Denis Leary will be played by... Denis Leary. And now, please welcome Denis Leary!
  • Author Appeal: He does a lot with Boston and/or firefighters, so expect a lot of that whenever he's involved.
  • Card-Carrying Jerkass: Leary's song "Asshole" is about how he likes to do things which annoy people, such as deliberately peeing on toilet seats and driving slowly in the fast lane, simply because he's an asshole and he's proud of it.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: To Willem Dafoe.
    • He has referenced this himself on more than one occasion, and in his first book (before doing The Amazing Spider Man) he says “I apologize to Mr Dafoe if, for every time I get to hear “Hey you ROCKED in Spider Man!” he has to hear “What the FUCK were you thinking doing Operation Dumbo Drop!?!?””.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Most of his stand-up routines are loaded with this trope.
  • Confessional: Discussed in one of his stand-up specials... in regards to Irish cuisine:
    Denis: I was in Barnes & Noble the other day, and I saw a book entitled "Irish Cuisine" and I laughed my balls off; okay?! Irish cuisine?! You know what Irish cuisine is, folks—we put everything into a pot and we boil it for seventeen-and-a-half-hours. Until you can eat it with a straw! (slurp) "Thanks, ma! Where's dessert? Okay, there it is. (slurp) Thanks, ma!" That's not cuisine, that's penance; that's what that is. "Bless me father, for I have sinned: I just blew Father O'Grady, what should I do?" "Eat your supper through a straw!"
  • Cyborg: Well, no, but he thinks voice-boxes sound cool and can't wait until he can get one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: May as well be the patron saint of this trope.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Subverted. "Is it impossible to get a cup of coffee-flavored coffee in this country?" According to him, it is. Most of the routine, in fact, is Leary perplexed that he has to specify that he wants coffee-flavored coffee when ordering it.
  • Drugs Are Good: He loves to drink both coffee and booze, and smoke to excess. He also makes obnoxious noises while doing it, too (num num num). He said that if he ever got throat cancer, he'd turn himself into a cigarette themed superhero named "Tracheotomy Man" whose superpower is smoking an entire pack at once.
  • Eagleland: Why We Suck is version 2. Why We Don't Suck is version 1.
  • Exact Words / Laser-Guided Karma: After the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, a bumper for an award show done in the style of a MasterCard "Priceless" commercial showed various Red Sox fans saying what they would give for a Sox championship. It then comes to Leary, who is told he said he would give his left nut to see it happen. After a few moments of denial, he goes, "Huh... that does sound like something I would say, doesn't it?" while another guy holds up what appears to be a pair of hedge clippers. The end of the spot featured half of a fake version of the MasterCard logonote  falling away while Leary's voice exclaims "Ow! You bastards!"
    • No Cure For Cancer also opens with an epic rant about a man from England who at the time had a senate hearing to make the medical health warnings on cigarette packs much larger; in the 2000's, the US packaging began to feature prominent written warnings regarding the dangers of smoking; packets in the UK are now required to feature graphic images of the effects of smoking, including diseased lungs, clogged arteries and so on. Looks like the guy got the last laugh, Denis.
  • Fighting Irish: And goddamn proud of it too.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Life's Gonna Suck, a song about the kinds of things adults have to deal with. The song also says there's no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny, and that "Big Bird isn't funny."
  • Guilt by Association Gag: Invokes this in the below mentioned "I'm Going to Hell for This" and "Taking You with Me" joke about Jesus's death.
  • Hat of Authority: Discussed when talking about the Catholic church.
    The bigger the hat, the more important the guy, right?! Priests have no hats, cardinals have those little beanie things, The Pope has a collection of nice hats... God must have a huge fucking sombrero up in heaven, huh? "Look at me, I'm God! Look at the size of my hat! Who else would I be?!" I dunno, the lead singer of Los Lobos?! I dunno! You tell me!
  • Hidden Depths: Would you guess that he's actually a published poet, an avid fan of poetry in general, and has been a guest editor for the renowned Ploughshares literary magazine?
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Discussed and embraced in Lock and Load when he talks about how many environmental awareness groups there are ("Save the Eagle, Save the Whales, Save the Porpoise, Save the Raccoon and the Rat; why not save your breath?"), and that despite this, people in America only want to save the cute animals.
    What are you?
    I'm an otter.
    And what do you do?
    (in a cutesy tone) I swim around on my back and do cute, little human things with my hands.
    You're free to go.
    (turns to another animal) And what are you?
    I'm a cow.
    Get in the fucking truck.
    I'm an animal; I have rights!
    You're a baseball glove; GET ON THAT TRUCK!
  • Human Popsicle: He claims in "Asshole" that John Wayne isn't really dead; he's just frozen somewhere and will be thawed out once scientists discover the cure for cancer. And he's not gonna be happy when he wakes up...
    You know why? Have you ever taken a cold shower? Well, multiply that by 15 million times; that's how pissed off the Duke's gonna be!
  • I'm Going to Hell for This: A bit on No Cure For Cancer. He's glad Jesus died when he did, because otherwise he would have ended up like Elvis in his 40s. He then performs an extended Jesus-as-Elvis impression, followed by:
    "I'm going to hell for that bit. And you're all coming with me!"
  • Jerkass: How many people view him, and the song "Asshole" is pretty much a celebration of Jerkasses and his stand-up persona in general (hell, it even provides the page quote!). Of course, it's part of his act.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: This seems to be his default setting. No matter how crude his stand up routine is, no matter how much we call him an asshole, much of his snark has truth to it.
  • Joggers Find Death: Inverted; he recounts the story of famous jogger Jim Fixx dying of a heart attack while jogging, and posits that it was probably two smokers who found him.
  • Large Ham: He could chew the scenery just smoking a cigarette! And has. Repeatedly.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: During No Cure for Cancer he relates a story about how his father nearly severed his thumb with a circular saw, and just said he needed some electrical tape. He also wouldn't let his wife drive him to the hospital.
    He would not let my mother drive him to the hospital; it was too much of a threat to his masculinity to be seen riding in a car driven by a woman. So he taped up the thumb with black electrical tape, and drove himself minus one thumb to the hospital. I turned to my brother and said "Hey pal, forget about crying, okay? Crying is over. We're never gonna be able to cry about anything ever, okay? Our father figure is a man who could sever his own head with a chainsaw and he'd staple gun it back on (staple sound effects) 'Fuckin head came off!' (staple sound effects)"
    • He goes on to say that one time, when he was visiting, his dad accidentally shot a nail through his hand with a nail gun. His reaction? Pull it out with his teeth.
  • Men Don't Cry: The basis for his routines about his father, and his own experience of getting shot in the head with an arrow, where he admits to being afraid to cry out of fear of being punished for it. Leary also mentions that two heartbreaking incidents, the death of his father and his son being born dangerously premature, had him constantly holding a lump in his throat to avoid crying at all.
  • Noodle Implements: In "Asshole," Denis declares his intent to drive down to Texas with John Wayne, John Cassavetes, Lee Marvin, Sam Peckinpah, and a case of whiskey to do... something that's never expanded upon because it's at that point the backup singer interrupts to call Denis an asshole.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Traditional Irish Folk Song"
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Replacing the letter "r" with an "a" and replacing the "-a" at the end of words with an "-er" is incredibly noticeable.
  • Relax-o-Vision: In the music video for "Asshole", a black screen with the word "BLEEP" is shown on the lyric "I use public toilets and I piss on the seat", meaning that he clearly did not want to demonstrate.
  • The Roast: He was the first to be roasted by Comedy Central and their counterpart to the New York Friar's Club Roast.
  • Running Gag: Almost any time he brings up his late father, expect wood paneling to be brought up, since the elder Mr. Leary was so fond of putting up wood paneling that he even had it on his car. Also, in his stand-up comedy acts, he often briefly references things that he's said earlier in the show.
  • Sanity Slippage: His kids got a Darth Vader bank toy that plays voice clips where he would breathe and say "USE THE FORCE LUKE". Eventually, the mechanism broke, causing it to go off randomly. At one point he was trying to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and he would hear it, thinking it was saying "HEY DENIS I'M ON AGAIN! COME AND TURN ME OFF! HAHAHA!".
  • Self-Deprecation: From his song "Kiss My A$$":
    "Kiss my skinny, Irish, Emmy-losing ass!"
  • The Shameless: "Asshole" is very much about this trope. Among some of the actions taken by the persona in the song, using public toilets and pissing on the seat, driving slow in the fast lane, and deliberately parking in handicap spaces, all very unrepentantly. Or, as he concludes at the end of the song, "I'm an asshole, and I'm proud of it."
  • Southies: Though he's actually from Worcester, which depending on who you ask is either central or western Massachusetts.
  • Spell My Name With An S: It's Denis, with one N.
  • Sturgeon's Law: On Conan O'Brien's The Tonight Show, Denis admitted that the majority of movies he's been in sucked, and cited Operation: Dumbo Drop, Demolition Man, and Who's the Man as examples.
  • Taking You with Me: In the joke mentioned in "I'm Going to Hell for This," not only is he going to hell, but so is everyone who heard the joke.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The Trope Namer comes from a bit in No Cure for Cancer where he describes Hell and one aspect of it is that you have to sit next to the Bay City Rollers. "How you guys doing? This is gonna suck!"
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis: His MTV promos.
  • Two Words: I Can't Count: From "Asshole":
    Two words: nuclear fucking weapons, okay?
  • Understatement: In one routine, he spends the first thirty seconds or so energetically puffing on his cigarette, gasping and wheezing several times, until he is half-obscured by a cloud of blue smoke. His summary?
  • Verbal Tic: Okay?
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He's best friends with Jon Stewart, so naturally they spend the entirety of Leary's Daily Show appearances bantering, kvetching, and generally ragging on each other. Jon has never been one to stick to an interview point, but when Leary turns up, as often as not whatever allegedly prompted his appearance isn't even mentioned after the introduction.

"I'm an asshole, and proud of it."