The True Origin Of The Florida Flu

A few weeks ago, someone who shall remain nameless, went to Florida and got Covid. 

This anonymous and wonderful human then gave me Covid.

I was really sick. And in the fever dream of my sickness, when my wife asked what was wrong, dripping with sweat, I gasped out:

I have The Florida Flu.

My wife smiled and said, “Pretty good, did you come up with that?”

I did, but I figured such an iconic phrase had been uttered before somewhere in the universe. 

Turns out, it seems I was wrong. Which can only mean one thing.

I, Jason Messina, am the creator of the term The Florida Flu.

A Google search does not reveal any results and proves me right. 

Sure, getting really high on cocaine seems to be have been called The South Florida Flu. But isn’t that something different all together? 

Methinks so. 

Now the coining of a famous, iconic and much beloved phrase puts me in good company. In fact, while I was in the midst of finding out that I was indeed the coiner of such a term, in the back of my mind I was thinking about the late, legendary and great Richard Lewis. And how he coined the term “The <Blank> From Hell.”

My wife and I love Richard Lewis. I’ve liked him for decades, always enjoying his manic comedy on late night talks shows and in standup. It wasn’t really till seeing him on Curb Your Enthusiasm that the like turned to love. He seemed like the kind of guy you want to go to lunch with and have a raucous time. 

Bickering. Bantering. We love all of it. It’s in our collective DNA.

The last episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm that we saw (not the actual last one) has Richard tell Larry that he has put Larry into his will. Larry doesn’t want any part of it and tells Richard that he knows what he’s up to. He just wants Larry to now put him in his will. Then they argue over who is going to die first. Larry sadly, turns out to be right and the premonition turns out to come true only a few weeks later. 

I usually don’t feel much sadness when a celebrity I don’t know dies. I mean, how could I? It’s literally someone I don’t know. But I felt like I knew Richard. That is clearly delusional and also completely understandable. He had a way about him that seemed relatable, especially in contrast to Larry David’s superhuman curmudgeon-ness. 


I don’t remember exactly when it was. Maybe during the early seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I went to the library and took out Richard Lewis books. My memory is hazy. But I remember clearly my motivation for taking the books out. I had heard a bit about Richard’s creative process and wanted to find out more. 

Did you know that Richard would go up on stage with notebooks full of material. A very prolific writer and creator. And he would use that material to launch off into improvised material. 

So it was this glorious mad mixture of prepared material and freshly-in-the-moment generated material. You don’t know how much I love this approach. It’s literally how I live my life. With a few scraps of paper, some ideas scribbled down and a faith that I’ll find a gulfstream to keep my afloat. 

Richard Lewis inspired me to take that approach to life. 

I don’t remember much else about those books. There were two of them and I scoured them for notes and ideas on process. I vaguely remember him being influenced by Jimi Hendrix, which I found to be weird and unexpected and inspiring all at the same time. 

My memory will be refreshed soon. On the day I found out he died, I ordered both books on Amazon and they are on their way. 

Yeah, I’ll also go back and rewatch the CYE episodes with Richard in the near future, his legacy lives on there. But there is something magical about leaving beyond books with your ideas. Those are ideas that can live on when you’re gone and impact people for who knows how long. You never know when something you said will spark something in someone. You never know who that someone will be. 

And one more thing

Richard Lewis is cited in the Yale Book of Quotations as inventing the term. 

That is amazing. I thought the humor of the situation was in him trying to take credit for such a ubiquitous phrase. It’s way funnier that he actually did come up with it AND it is now so ubiquitous that most people don’t know the origin AND are like me and thought he was just claiming it as a goof.

<The author of this article is now Google-ing “How do I submit “The Florida Flu” to The Yale Book of Quotations>

To learn more state-of-the-art ubiquitous phrases straight from the horse’s mouth, punch the link below:

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