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Bob Smith (1958 – 2018), groundbreaking gay comedian

by Kirk Fox

First openly gay male comedian to star in his own HBO special…

Bob Smith, a pioneering gay comedian, has died at the age of 59, according to multiple news sources. 

His rep told The Hollywood Reporter that he died Saturday in his New York City home from complications from ALS. 


He was the first openly gay male comedian to star in his own HBO special. He was also the first openly gay comic to perform on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” 

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Smith appeared on “Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher” in 1998. 

He was also an author, his autobiographical essay collection “Openly Bob,” won the LAMBDA Book Award for humor. Smith published his last collection of essays, “Treehab: Tales from my Natural Wild Life,” in the middle of his battle with ALS and had to use one functional hand on an iPad. 

Smith wrote for the television series “Roseanne” and “MADtv.” 

He was born in Buffalo, New York and moved to New York City to pursue a career in comedy. He first became known as a member of the comedy group “Funny Gay Males.” 

Smith is survived by his mother, two brothers, his partner, Michael Zam, and two children. 

We invite you to share condolences for Bob Smith in his Guest Book.