SAN FRANCISCO -- Jim Samuels, a popular comedian who once held a 'Last Laugh,' workshop for comics who were stricken with AIDS, has died after a long battle with spinal meningitis. He was 41.
Dubbed San Francisco's 'dean of comedy' by his friends and competitors, Samuels died Friday at Garden Sullivan Hospital where he had been battling complications brought on by AIDS.
Samuels, with his partner Marty Cohen, played top nightclubs in San Francisco and were regulars on Merv Griffin's television show and several other variety programs in the mid-1970s.
After breaking with Cohen as a comedy team, Samuels went solo and in 1982 won the coveted San Francisco Comedy Competition. In 1986, he bought the Holy City Zoo comedy club -- which emphasized showcasing new talent -- with friend and manager Bob Fisher.
Samuels was fond of telling audiences how he was attracted to comedy in the sixth grade when he became class president and got hold of a microphone.
'I never looked back,' he'd say.
Samuels is survived by his mother, a sister and two sons.