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This Day in Comedy History

April 22 - April 30

April 22

 

1857 - Comic actress who appeared in more than 200 stage productions, and a chief interpreter of Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde’s works, Ada Rehan is born in County Limerick, Ireland.

1906 - Two-time Oscar nominee for Roman Holiday and The Heartbreak Kid, also known for The Longest Yard, Whiffs, and, last but not least, as the star of the sitcom Green Acres, Eddie Albert is born in Rock Island, Illinois.

1920 - Comedian initially known as half of the duo Sweeney and March who would go on to The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show before becoming the host of TV’s The $64,000 Question, Hal March is born in San Francisco.

1926 - Known for her role as Edna Garrett on both Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Live, actress Charlotte Rae is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1959 - American-Canadian stand-up, improviser and actor known for The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Ryan Stiles is born in Seattle, Washington - with about as much hair as Colin Mochrie.

1961 - Stand-up, host/producer of talk and game shows (The Byron Allen Show, Comics Unleashed, Funny You Should Ask) and Walk of Fame honoree Byron Allen is born in Detroit, Michigan.

1963 - Voted 19th on Channel 4’s “100 Greatest Stand Ups” in 2010, and known as a team captain on the same network’s 8 Out Of 10 Cats, comic Sean Lock is born in Chertsey, Surrey, England.

1964 - A star of films including Meatballs and My Bodyguard, Chris Makepeace is born in Montreal, Canada. 

1967 - Comic actress from Less Than Perfect, 30 Rock, and an Emmy winner as one of the hosts of The View, Sherri Shepherd is born in Chicago.

1978 - Steve Martin debuts his soon-to-be–a-classic novelty song King Tut - on Saturday Night Live. The song, featuring backup by “The Toot Uncommons” (aka The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) and a great cameo by gold-painted Lou Marini who emerges from a sarcophagus to perform a sax solo, would be released as a single and make it to #17 on the Billboard charts. It would also be released on Martin’s album A Wild and Crazy Guy. As for this episode of SNL, it also features appearances by both The Blues Brothers and The Czech Brothers, and would be nominated for an Emmy.

1991 - Talk show king Johnny Carson announces that he will be retiring from The Tonight Show in May of the following year.

1996 - Steve Martin’s "Yes, In My Own Backyard" is published in The New Yorker.

1996 - American humorist, columnist, and author Erma Bombeck dies at 69 of complications from a kidney transplant.

2001 - A first look at the trials and tribulations of Julian, Ricky, Bubbles, and their friends, Mike Clattenburg’s Trailer Park Boys debuts on Showcase.

2007 - At the 5th Annual TV Land Awards, winners included Lucille Ball, The Brady Bunch, Hee Haw, Taxi and Sonny & Cher for their 1987 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Presenters included Carol Burnett, Kirstie Alley, Forest Whitaker, Morgan Freeman, Sharon Stone, Luke Wilson, Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips.

2011 - A one-hour, in depth sit down with Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis CK, Talking Funny airs on HBO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbzxVGMem10

2012 - What would turn out to be an award-winning juggernaut, the new Julia Louis-Dreyfus series Veep debuts on HBO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2HoCG_iyhU

2017 - One of Burt Reynolds’ last projects, The Last Movie Star, is released. The film co-stars Chevy Chase.

2017 - Best remembered as Joanie Cunningham on both Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, Erin Moran dies of throat cancer at 56.

April 23

 

1948 - One half of the duo Ding et Dong, comedian Serge Theriault is born in Quebec City.

1949 - The only female performer to remain as John Ritter's roommate for all of Three’s Company’s eight seasons, actress Joyce DeWitt is born in Wheeling, West Virginia.

1955 - Revered dramatic actress with a penchant for comedy, as seen in Barton Fink, The Ref, Celebrity and The Break Up among others, Judy Davis is born in  Perth, Australia.

1957 - An episode of the anthology series Heinz Studio 57 airs entitled It's a Small World. That program would become the pilot for Leave It to Beaver, which premiered in October of that year.

1957 - Jan Hooks of Saturday Night Live, Designing Women, and 30 Rock fame born in Decatur, Georgia.

1960 - TV star from One Day at a Time and Hot in Cleveland, actress Valerie Bertinelli is born in Wilmington, Delaware.

1961 - Stand-up and actor who has not only starred in his own sitcom twice, but hosted his own talk show, and was also named “One Of The Top 25 Hispanics In America” by Time Magazine, George Lopez is born in Mission Hills, California.

1962 - U.K. actor from Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Love Bug, I’m With Lucy and Overboard, John Hannah is born in East Kilbride, Scotland.

1977 - John Oliver of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Last Week Tonight and Community fame is born in Birmingham, England...

And this is the sexiest picture we could find on the internet.

Not just of him. Of anyone.

1977 - Best known for his work in the Harold and Kumar series, he would later go on to  a position in the Obama administration before taking a recurring role in How I Met Your Mother - actor Kal Penn is born Kalpen Suresh Modi in Montclair, New Jersey.

1990 - Known for her works with Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart and Charlie Chaplin (who she also had a relationship with), Paulette Goddard passes away in Switzerland at the age of 79.

2020 - Comic Sarah Cooper posts the first of a series of videos where she lip-syncs to humorous songs she creates using Donald Trump press statements. The premiere offering was How to Medical where she makes use of the audio of the Trump Covid-19 briefing in which he suggests shining lights and ingesting disinfectants to eliminate the virus. The post got more than 25 million Tik Tok and Twitter views. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxDKW75ueIU

April 24

 

1910 - A comic credited with creating the insult humour genre, who was a favourite talk show guest (more than 150 combined appearances on The Tonight Show as well as the Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, and Ed Sullivan shows), and who also appeared in films (The Disorderly Orderly, Three Sailors and a Girl), Jack E. Leonard is born in Chicago.

1934 - Oscar, Emmy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe award winner known for films including Around the World in 80 Days, The Apartment, Irma la Douce, Sweet Charity and Being There, Shirley Maclaine is born in Richmond, Virginia.

1942 - While it's easy to only think of the songs or political activism or later films, you’re best not to forget the chops she displayed in movies like The Owl and the Pussycat, What’s Up Doc?, For Pete’s Sake, or her turns playing Fannie Brice in Funny Girl and Funny Lady, EGOT winner Barbra Steisand is born in New York City.

1950 - From the time of its opening in 1903, Pittsburgh’s Nixon Theater was the city’s premier playhouse, hosting the greatest touring productions and performers of the age. For the last shows prior to its closing and the impending wrecking ball, Mae West reprised her Broadway hit Diamond Lil to fill the final week, beginning on this date. Following the final show the showplace was torn down to build an aluminum company’s new headquarters.

1955 - He played Danny Noonan in the film Caddyshack  and Jackie's husband Fred on Roseanne, actor Michael O’Keefe is born in Mount Vernon, New York. Other credits include The Slugger's Wife.

1964 - A member of The Original Kings of Comedy Tour, comic Cedric the Entertainer is born Cedric Antonio Kyles in Jefferson City, MO.

1965 - Most notable for its second half, in which one of the grand pianos is stripped from the stage and stars Victor Borge and Leonid Hambro hilariously combine to perform Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody on one keyboard, the final performance of Comedy in Music: Opus 2 takes place at New York’s John Golden Theatre.

1966 – Pierre Brassard, Canadian comedian and actor, is born.

1974 - Bud Abbott, of Abbott and Costello fame, passes away at the age of 76 in Woodland Hills, CA.

1989 - The New Mickey Mouse Club premieres on TV.

1997 – Pat Paulsen passed away at the age of 69. An American comedian and Smothers Brothers mainstay, Paulsen was also known as a political satirist who engaged in several “campaigns” for the US presidency from 1968-1996.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n-kMI25ZcI

April 25

 

1925 – German political comedian and cabaretist Sammy Drechsel is born.

1960 - On Tonight Starring Jack Paar, now known as The Tonight Show, Bob Newhart made his first late night appearance. Other guests on the show: Betty White and Arthur Treacher.

1964 - Simpsons voice maestro and actor Hank Azaria is born in Queens, NY.

1964 - Phil Silvers basically tries to return to TV with his Sgt. Bilko character, except without the uniform and with a new name: “Harry Grafton.” It does not go to plan as six months after its debut, The New Phil Silvers Show airs for the last time on CBS.

1969 - Double Oscar-winning actress from films including Jerry Maguire, Nurse Betty, Chicago and the Bridget Jones' Diary series, Renee Zellweger is born in Katy, Texas.

1970 – Jason Lee (My Name is Earl, Almost Famous, the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies) is born in Santa Ana, California.

1991 - Lisa gets a substitute teacher who makes a lasting impression on her. Using the pseudonym Sam Etic, Dustin Hoffman guests on The Simpsons episode Lisa’s Substitute.

2009 - An Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy winner for both Maude and The Golden Girls, Bea Arthur dies of lung cancer at 86.

2010 - Tim Allen hosts the 8th Annual TV Land Awards. Winners include Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner, Bosom Buddies, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Love Boat and Glee. Presenters include Bob Newhart, Billy Crystal, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, Betty White, Jay Leno, Jane Lynch and Pamela Anderson.

April 26

 

1834 - Credited by many as America’s first stand-up comedian, who would write and perform under the name Artemus Ward, Charles Farra Browne is born in Waterford, Maine.

1933 - Actress, singer and legendary comic best known for her groundbreaking variety series, Carol Burnett is born in San Antonio, Texas.

1958 - Long before he became a murderous meth producer on Breaking Bad, he was an actor well known for his works for Spike Lee (School Daze, Do The Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues), and other comedies. Giancarlo Esposito is born in Copenhagen, Denmark.

1962 - Best known as the longest-serving original cast member on MADtv, Debra Wilson is born in South Ozone Park, Queens, New York.

1965 - Comedian Kevin James (King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Paul Blart 2, Bring the Boom, Zookeeper) is born in Mineola, New York.

1973 - Actress and comic well known in vaudeville, radio, stage, film and television, where she is best remembered for playing Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies, Irene Ryan passes away in Santa Monica at the age of 70.

1975 - Written, produced by and starring veteran comic Rudy Ray Moore, the blaxploitation crime comedy named after his alter-ego character, Dolemite opens in New York City.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DebCN7U65vY

1976 - Best remembered for starring in 19 of the Carry On films, actor Sid James dies, just four days removed from the final episode of series 6 of his sitcom Bless This House. There were plans for a 7th and 8th series as well as a second movie until James' death - ironically he had told Bless co-star Diana Coupland "we'll keep making this until one of us kicks the bucket." James suffered a heart attack onstage at Sunderland’s Empire Theatre where he was performing in The Mating Season. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, aged 62.

1992 - And then one day there were no Pains and no Boss. The final episodes of both the classic sitcoms Growing Pains and Who’s The Boss? air on ABC.

1993 - NBC announces past Emmy winner for writing at SNL, and current Simpsons writer Conan O'Brien will be David Letterman’s replacement as host of Late Night. So pack your bags, Andy Richter, you magnificent son of a bitch!

1998 - Larry’s assistant Beverly is pregnant and it's clear that one of that night’s guests is the father, so Larry does his best to find out if it’s Michael Bolton, Drew Carey, or Eriq La Salle on The Larry Sanders Show episode Beverly’s Secret.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cepwW97lPrs

1999 - Caroline and the Big Move, the final episode of Lea Thompson’s series Caroline in the City, airs on NBC.

2000 - Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression debuts on BBC One. The sketch show, starring McGowan and Ronni Ancona, would go on to win multiple British Comedy Awards and a BAFTA for Best Comedy.

2009 - Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 7th Annual TV Land Awards. Winners include Married... with Children, M*A*S*H, Two and a Half Men, Home Improvement, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Don Rickles and Sid and Marty Krofft. Presenters include Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Martin Sheen, Jimmy Kimmel, Matthew McConaughey, Teri Hatcher, Jamie Lee Curtis, Angela Bassett and Reba McEntire.

2009 - At the British Academy Television Awards the winners are Harry and Paul for Best Comedy Programme, The IT Crowd for Best Situation Comedy, Peep Show’s David Mitchell for Best Comedy Performance, and Helen Mirren presents Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders with the BAFTA Fellowship Award.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYC8KoYBCek

2010 - Motivation Records releases Rik Mayall's England Football anthem "Noble England" for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.The release date coincided with St. George's Day and the baptism of Shakespeare. On the track, Mayall performs an adapted speech from Shakespeare's Henry V.

2018 - Bill Cosby is found guilty on three charges of aggravated indecent assault after a jury trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania. While awaiting sentencing the Montgomery County District Attorney asked his bail to be revoked since he had a plane and could flee to which Cosby yelled “He has no plane, you asshole!” He would later be sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison and fined $25,000. 

April 27

 

1899 - Animator, producer, actor, director, and cartoonist best remembered for creating Woody Woodpecker, Walter Lantz is born in New Rochelle, New York.

1922 - Jack Klugman, the messy, cigar-smoking, Oscar Madison half of TV’s The Odd Couple, is born in Woodland Hills, CA.

1932 - Legendary radio DJ Casey Kasem, the distinctive voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo, is born in Detroit, Michigan.

1939 - Best known as the “Sock it to me!” girl on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, actress Judy Carne is born Joyce Audrey Botterill in Northampton, England.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgJvTeygblU

1964 - After 11 seasons, the finale of the hugely successful sitcom The Danny Thomas Show (previously Make Room for Daddy) airs on CBS.

1965 - On one of the most famous episodes in talk show history, Ed Ames (who played Mingo the Indian on TV’s Daniel Boone series) guested on The Johnny Carson Show and was provided with an opportunity to showcase his tomahawk throwing skills. A backdrop was constructed with a painted cowboy drawing his gun and when Ames threw the first axe it landed square and deep into the cowboy’s crotch. The laughter from the audience grew and grew, and, with perfect timing, just as it crested, Carson quipped to Ames “I didn’t even know you were Jewish.” Bedlam.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L5QC9ZJkM8

1989 - It's exactly what 1980s movie audiences had been clamoring for, as The Pat Morita and Jay Leno starring buddy cop comedy Collision Course premieres. The story involves a Japanese detective teaming up with a Detroit cop (we’ll let you guess who played who) to track down a stolen prototype supercharger… and it was about as funny as it sounds.

1989 - In the Sisterly Love episode of Cheers, Rebecca and her estranged sister team up to teach the womanizing Sam a lesson.

1992 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's titular Prince (Will Smith) is stunned when his young cousin Ashley asks him about the birds and the bees. The episode Be My Baby Tonight premieres.

1997 - Audiences see Sensitive Dick on TV for the first time ever. Get your mind out of the gutter, we're talking about the 3rd Rock from the Sun episode Sensitive Dick (tee-hee!), in which Dick (John Lithgow) has to take sensitivity classes.

2001 - The Warren Beatty/Diane Keaton rom-com Town & Country premieres, but despite the talent involved (supporting actors include Andie MacDowell, Garry Shandling, Charlton Heston, Jenna Elfman, Nastassja Kinski and Goldie Hawn) it does not do well with critics or at the box office.

2005 - The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz premieres, featuring appearances by Ashanti, David Alan Grier, Jeffrey Tambor and Quentin Tarantino.

2014 - After 6 years as a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show, John Oliver moves on up. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver debuts on HBO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGS8gL-0b5Y

April 28

 

1930 - She was already an Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning actress before landing the role that would be her most memorable, that of Morticia Addams on The Addams Family. Carolyn Jones is born in Amarillo, Texas.

April 29

 

April 30