This Day in Comedy History
January 22 - January 31
1963 - Prominent New Zealand stand-up comedian, TV presenter and proud “westie” Ewen Gilmour is born.
1968 – Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In premieres on NBC. The groundbreaking sketch show would air until 1973.
1983 - A series spun off of a recurring Carol Burnett Show sketch, Vicki Lawrence stars in Mama’s Family, premiering on this day on NBC.
1998 - The final regular episode of The Vicar of Dibley aired on BBC, though three specials would air by 2007 - and more since.
1999 - After suffering two heart attacks on holiday, British comedy legend Ernie Wise, of Morecambe & Wise, has to undergo a triple heart bypass in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
2003 - The first episode of Dave Chappelle’s series Chappelle’s Show airs on Comedy Central. Sketches include a training film for employees of PopCopy and the search for white supremacist Clayton Bigsby, a blind klansman who doesn't realize that he's black.
2004 - The debut of CTV’s Corner Gas draws 1.15 million viewers.
2008 - Canadian actor Elliot Page is nominated for the Best Actress Oscar (as Ellen Page) for his work in Juno at the age of 20, one of the youngest people ever nominated in that category.
2018 - “Razzie” nominations for the 38th Golden Raspberry Awards are announced. Baywatch and The Emoji Movie lead the way with five nods apiece - making the Emoji Movie the most “successful” movie in the history of the awards. Meanwhile Boo 2! A Madea Halloween somehow only got three nominations, and Daddy’s Home 2 got a pair.
1919 - Canadian actress and Walk of Fame member Frances Bay - best known for being Fonzie’s grandma on Happy Days, Adam Sandler’s grandma in Happy Gilmore, and being mugged for a loaf of rye bread by Jerry on Seinfeld - is born in Mannville, Alberta.
1919 - Ernie Kovacs, American comedian, game show host and actor, is born.
1950 - Comedy writer Edward “Chips” Hardy is born in London, England. He won a British Comedy Award for his collaborations with Irish comedian Dave Allen.
1970 - By now well established as the King of Late Night Television, Johnny Carson graces the cover of Life Magazine.
1974 - Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Kelly Kapowski on the series Saved by the Bell, is born in Long Beach, California.
1975 - Set in a New York City police precinct, the classic cop comedy series Barney Miller makes its debut on ABC.
1982 - When you think of combining Mickey Rooney, Dana Carvey, Nathan Lane, and Scatman Crothers, the first word that comes to mind is “chemistry” - and yet it just didn’t manage to gel on the short-lived series One of the Boys, debuting on this day on NBC.
1999 - TV Guide magazine does a tribute to the Funniest TV Moments of All Time. Topping their list of 50 is Johnny Carson's infamous 1987 potato chip prank - when his guest Myrtle Young, a collector of potato chips that look like celebrities, turned her back, Johnny crunched into a chip of his own. Rounding out the top ten are The Carol Burnett Show's Gone with the Wind dress, Kramer dropping out of Seinfeld's The Contest, The $99,000 Answer episode of The Honeymooners, the death of Chuckles the Clown on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis as Bob Hope and Woody Allen on SCTV, I Love Lucy's Vitametavegamin pitch, Laura revealing personal information about Rob's boss on The Dick Van Dyke Show, the parrot sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, and The Odd Couple's Felix and Oscar playing Password.
2003 - Tony Award winning Broadway actress and singer, best remembered for starring in the sitcoms Gimme a Break! and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, Nell Carter passes away in her Beverly Hills home at age 54.
2005 - The undisputed King of Late Night television, Johnny Carson passes away at 79 years of age.
2007 - At just 10 years of age, Abigail Breslin is nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the film Little Miss Sunshine. Eddie Murphy is also nominated, for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Dreamgirls. Both would go on to lose - Eddie Murphy to Breslin’s Sunshine co-star Alan Arkin. Also nominated, for Best Adapted Screenplay, are the writers of Borat: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ant Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer, and Todd Phillips.
2014 - The episode of the sitcom Community, Geothermal Escapism, airs on NBC. In it, Troy leaves for a year-long sailing trip. Thus marks Donald Glover’s exit from the series to pursue film and Childish music endeavors.
2015 - Coming to you from the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, Colorado, Iliza Shlesinger’s special Freezing Hot hits Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wJ-zm1aVZM
1944 - Time magazine welcomes Jimmy Durante back onto its cover.
1946 - Michael Ontkean, “Ned Braden” in the original Slap Shot film, is born in Vancouver.
1949 - John Belushi, arguably the funniest Belushi brother, is born in Chicago.
1951 - Yakov Smirnoff is born in Odessa, Ukraine. He would later immigrate to “America - what a country!”
1967 - An original cast member of the sketch series MADtv, and versatile voice actor, Phil LaMarr is born in Los Angeles.
1974 - Daily Show correspondent, The Office’s Andy Bernard, and Dr. Stuart Price from The Hangover films, Ed Helms is born in Atlanta, Georgia.
1975 - Still on a roll with All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons, producer Norman Lear unveils his newest show Hot l Baltimore (the first word is hotel, but with the e on the sign burnt out). This show apparently doesn’t have the same “Lear Magic” - it would be gone after 13 weeks.
1978 - Actress, comic, voice actor, and writer, Kristen Schaal born in Longmont, Colorado.
1979 - Ashley Banks from ABC series The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Tatyana Ali is born in North Bellmore, New York.
1979 - The 21st and final episode of the sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin airs on BBC.
1997 - The sort-of follow-up to A Fish Called Wanda - John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin return in the film Fierce Creatures.
1998 - “Weird Al” Yankovic has LASIK eye surgery to correct his extreme myopia.
2003 - In a memorable TV guest appearance, Canadian acting legend Gordon Pinsent berates a cat on The Sean Cullen Show.
2012 - Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, at the age of 82, receives a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work in the film Beginners. He would go on to win, becoming the oldest person to win an Academy Award in any acting category. FUN FACT: Plummer is also the oldest nominee in any acting category, following his Best Supporting Actor nomination for the 2017 film All the Money in the World.
2012 - Woody Allen gets a Best Director Oscar nomination for his comedy-fantasy Midnight in Paris.
2012 - Jay Leno and NBC are sued for libel after Leno presented a sketch on The Tonight Show in which images of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s houses are shown - with Romney’s summer house hilariously replaced by a photo of the Sikh holy shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. Oddly though, Romney and his campaign have nothing to do with the suit - it was brought by a California man who objected to the image of a Sikh holy shrine being used to depict a vacation resort.
2020 - Nikki Glaser’s first theatre tour “Nikki Glaser Bangs It Out” opens at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. The tour is scheduled to run through May 16th, but of course doesn’t, it being 2020 and all...
1896 - American cabaret and theatre singer, dancer and comedian who broke down many racial barriers, Florence Mills is born in Washington, DC.
1931 – Dean Jones, American actor best known for his roles in That Darn Cat! and the Herbie the Love Bug movie series, was born.
1949 - The first ever Emmy Awards are held at the Hollywood Athletic Club. There were a limited amount of categories the first time out - the Technical Award, the TV Station Award, a special award to Louis McManus for designing the Emmy trophy, Most Popular Television Program, Best Film Made for Television, and the biggie, Most Outstanding Television Personality, which went to 22 year-old ventriloquist and UCLA student Shirley Dinsdale... I know, it's always so political.
1956 - Tony Award winning theatre, TV and film actress Dinah Manoff (Soap, Grease, I Ought to Be in Pictures) is born.
1957 - Actress known for the volume of Mother roles she plays, and whose credits include Black-ish, A Different World and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Jenifer Lewis is born in Kinloch, Missouri.
1958 - Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca are featured on the cover of TV Guide.
1970 - The third highest-grossing film of 1970, M*A*S*H has its premiere at the Baronet Theatre in New York. Directed by Robert Altman and with a screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr., the cast includes Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Robert Duvall, Sally Kellerman and Tom Skerritt. Gary Burghoff, in the role of Radar O’Reilly, would be the only one to make the jump when M*A*S*H made its way to television.
1971 - Actress known for the series Ugly Betty, Kristin and A.U.S.A., Ana Ortiz is born in New York City.
1974 - Now in the show’s fifth season, none of The Brady Bunch kids are young enough to play cute anymore, so enter little Cousin Oliver! Robbie Rist joins the cast as the episode Welcome Aboard airs on ABC.
1978 - With David Letterman and Alan Oppenheimer starring, and guests including Mel Brooks, Ron Carey and James Cromwell, the news magazine satire special Peeping Times airs on NBC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq_zPNCu7N0
1981 - During the filming of Stripes, Bill Murray marries his first wife, Margaret Kelly.
2010 - The documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work premieres.
2011 - MacWorld Expo 2011 features celebrity speaker Sinbad.
2013 - Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who tapes his show right in the heart of Hollywood - on Hollywood Blvd. in fact - gets a star on that very street.
2017 - A seven time Emmy Award winner, primarily for her work on The Dick Van Dyke Show and her own Mary Tyler Moore Show, as well as a successful executive with her MTM Enterprises, Mary Tyler Moore passes away at the age of 80.
1918 - One of the greatest character actors in film and TV history, Vito Scotti is born in San Francisco. Among his hundreds of guest roles, appearances included The Flying Nun, Batman, The Monkees, Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island, Zorro, The Golden Girls, numerous episodes of Columbo and Bewitched, as well as The Godfather. His last role was as a restaurant manager in the film Get Shorty.
1958 - The star of a ground-breaking sitcom, then the star of a ground-breaking talk show, Ellen DeGeneres is born in Metairie, Louisiana.
1964 - Canadian impressionist Rich Little makes his US breakthrough on The Judy Garland Show.
1967 - Stand-up comic and actor known for MADtv and The Hangover films, Bryan Callen is born in Manila, Philippines.
1973 - Stand-up, TV host, documentarian, podcaster and activist, W. Kamau Bell is born in Palo Alto, California.
1979 - In his third series since leaving M*A*S*H, McLean Stevenson stars as a radio talk show host in the sitcom Hello, Larry, making its debut on NBC. Expectations were high. The reality, though, is that the series was sadly a mess, oft included in “Worst TV show of all time” discussions.
1980 - Richard Mulligan and Cathyrn Damon from the new series Soap land on the cover of TV Guide.
1986 - Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan is appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “service to tourism and entertainment”.
1990 - Pedro Almodóvar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is released in Spain, starring Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril, Loles Léon and Francisco Rabal. The controversial film would receive the “touch of death” X-rating from the MPAA in the US, causing the studio to launch a lawsuit against the organization. The suit was lost, but helped pressure the MPAA into adopting a new rating, the NC-17.
2003 - Jimmy Kimmel hosts the first episode of his ABC talk fest Jimmy Kimmel Live! with guests George Clooney, Coldplay, Warren Sapp, and Snoop Dogg.
2004 - Dennis Miller's new political talk show premieres on CNBC, titled, oddly enough, Dennis Miller. It would last until the following May.
2014 - LL Cool J hosts the 56th Grammy Awards in L.A. and it's a big year for comedy. Best Comedy Album goes to Kathy Griffin for Calm Down Gurrl - other nominees include I'm Here to Help by Craig Ferguson, A Little Unprofessional by Ron White, Tig Notaro - Live, and Bob Saget's That's What I'm Talkin' About. Meanwhile, four of the five Best Spoken Word nominees are also comedians: America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren't wins the day for Stephen Colbert, whose fellow nominees include Carol Burnett's Carrie and Me, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris and Billy Crystal's Still Foolin' 'Em.
2016 - Best remembered for his role on the series Barney Miller and his own spinoff sitcom Fish, and less comedically as Tessio in The Godfather, Abe Vigoda passes away at the age of 94.
2020 - At the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, Best Comedy Album goes to Sticks & Stones by Dave Chappelle. Nominees include Quality Time by Jim Gaffigan, Relatable by Ellen DeGeneres, Right Now by Aziz Ansari, and Son of Patricia by Trevor Noah.
1923 - The Marx Brothers, in town playing at the Aldine Theater, make an appearance on Pittsburgh’s WCAE. It’s their first time ever on radio.
1933 - Mae West’s second film for Paramount, She Done Him Wrong premieres. The script is laced with double entendre and innuendo, and the love interest is her hand-picked leading man, a young Cary Grant in one of his first film roles. When she suggested to him “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” both of their careers were given a sharp boost. The film would go on to be Oscar nominated, rake in two million dollars at the height of the depression, and eventually be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
1940 - Actor and comedian Reynaldo Rey is born in Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. He appeared in many television shows and more than 50 movies, including Friday, House Party 3, White Men Can't Jump, A Rage in Harlem, and Harlem Nights. As a stand-up comedian, he frequently opened for his friend and mentor Redd Foxx.
1940 - First coming to fame as Stretch Cunningham on All in the Family, with dozens of comedic film and TV roles to follow, award winning actor James Cromwell is born in Los Angeles.
1942 – American comedian and actor John Witherspoon is born in Detroit.
1968 - “Elizabeth Montgomery Turns Hippie in Bewitched”. Leave it to TV Guide to break all the big stories.
1969 - Patton Oswalt is born in Portsmouth, Virginia.
1970 – Italian comedian and actor Rocco D'Assunta is born.
1976 - Two roommates working in a Milwaukee brewery sets the scene for the Happy Days spinoff Lavenre and Shirley, which makes its debut on ABC.
1984 - A group of older comics gather as usual in a New York deli, spinning yarns and telling tales of years past, until one says he has the best story ever, and begins to tell of sad-sack talent manager Danny Rose. With Woody Allen directing and playing the lead, Broadway Danny Rose opens in theatres.
1989 - The classic and groundbreaking 1990s sitcom Roseanne premieres, making her and John Goodman stars.
2011 – American comedian Charlie Callas, a frequent guest on 1970s TV shows and known for his collaborations with Mel Brooks and the team of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, passed away.
2015 - For weeks the promos had been running as the CTV series Spun Out was set for the biggest promo boost a show could ask for. Their season two premiere would be airing right after the Super Bowl, and not just any Super Bowl but Tom Brady and his New England Patriots taking on the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. The numbers would be HUGE - guaranteed! Until... five days before the debut, when one of the series' stars, J.P. Manoux (ER, Community, Veep), is arrested after two young women who were subletting his waterfront condo discovered he'd installed a hidden camera that was recording them remotely. The resulting negative publicity quashed the high profile season debut, and the remaining episodes, already shot, were finally aired six months later with little fanfare. Manoux would ultimately be convicted of two counts of mischief.
2020 - Mexican comedian Alex Fernandez has his second Netflix special, the modestly titled Alex Fernandez: The Best Comedian in the World, released.
2021 - Eight time Emmy Award winner best known for her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her own series Phyllis, Young Frankenstein, Bad Santa, Raising Hope and more, Cloris Leachman passes away from a stroke with Covid-19 complications at the age of 94.
1936 - Hawkeye Pierce himself, Alan Alda, is born in Manhattan, New York City as Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo. Aside from M*A*S*H, the winner of six Emmys and six Golden Globes can be seen in the films Betsy’s Wedding, Canadian Bacon, Tower Heist, What Women Want, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Sweet Liberty.
1953 - J. Fred Muggs (a chimp) joins the cast of NBC’s Today Show. Most noted for “biting” social and political satire. (Ha! See what we did there?)
1960 - Stand-up Woody Allen makes his national TV debut on The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom.
1960 - The final episode of the tenth and final series of the hit radio comedy The Goon Show airs on BBC radio.
1969 - Comic/journalist Mo Rocca, best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show (1998-2003) and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (2004-2008), is born in Washington, DC.
1977 - Stand-up comedian and sitcom star of Chico and the Man Freddie Prinze shoots himself in front of his business manager after talking to his estranged wife on the phone. Prinze, who suffered from depression and used drugs, is rushed to the UCLA Medical Center and placed on life support following emergency surgery. His family removes him from life support, and he dies at 1pm the following day.
1978 - Robert Klein hosts Saturday Night Live, with musical guest Bonnie Raitt. The episode features Bill Murray's appearance as lounge singer Nick Winters, performing his famously catchy tune: "Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars..." with the help of pianist Nick (Paul Shaffer).
1989 - Roseanne hits the cover of TV Guide for the first time.
1996 - The original Bert and Ernie Muppets are stolen from an exhibit in Germany. They would later be returned.
2010 - As a guest on The Howard Stern Show, comedian Robert Schimmel announces that he has developed cirrhosis as a result of a hepatitis C infection he got from a blood transfusion while serving in the Air Force. He says he is working to be added to the waiting list for a donated liver.
2015 - VH1 Classic kicks off its world record breaking, continuous, 24 hour a day, 19-day marathon of Saturday Night Live. By the time it would finally come to an end in February, it would smash the previous record, FXX’s 12-day marathon of The Simpsons.
2018 - At the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, hosted by James Corden, the Best Comedy Album trophy goes to The Age of Spin & Deep in the Heart of Texas by Dave Chappelle. His fellow nominees include Cinco by Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Before Seinfeld by Jerry Seinfeld, A Speck of Dust by Sarah Silverman, and What Now? by Kevin Hart. Best Spoken Word Album is posthumously awarded to Carrie Fisher for The Princess Diarist.
2018 - Comedian and National Lampoon writer Chris Rush dies of complications from surgery and cancer.
1880 - One of comedy’s legends of stage and screen, W. C. Fields is born William Claude Dukenfield in Darby, Pennsylvania. But on the whole, he'd probably rather be in Philadelphia...
1945 - Actor Tom Selleck - best known by comedy fans for Three Men and a Baby, Three Men and a Little Lady, Her Alibi, In & Out, Folks, Mr. Baseball, and as Monica’s recurring beau Richard in the hit sitcom Friends - is born in Detroit, Michigan… Probably already with a wicked cool moustache.
1958 - Witty comic and writer best known for regular appearances on British panel shows, Linda Smith is born in Erith, Kent, England.
1964 - Stanley Kubrick’s masterful dark comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb debuts in theatres. The film would pick up four BAFTA Awards and be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor, for its star Peter Sellers, who plays three roles in the film.
1969 - The CBS music-and-comedy variety series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969-1972) debuts.
1970 - Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Hangover films are just two of her comedic credits. Heather Graham is born on this day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1972 - Stand-up and performer on the series This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Shaun Majumder is born in Burlington, Newfoundland.
1975 - Sara Gilbert (Roseanne/The Conners, The Big Bang Theory, The Talk) is born in Santa Monica, CA.
1977 - Comedian and actor Freddie Prinze dies after being removed from life support. The star of hit sitcom Chico and the Man had shot himself the previous day while meeting with his business manager, following a phone call with his estranged wife.
1980 - Comedian and actor Jimmy Durante, wheelchair bound since suffering a stroke in 1972, dies of pneumonia in Santa Monica, California 12 days before he would have turned 87. His funeral four days later would be attended by fellow entertainers including Desi Arnaz, Ernest Borgnine, Marty Allen and Jack Carter. He is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
1983 - SCTV’s Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas host SNL.
2009 - Katt Williams’ second album, It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’, is released on Warner Bros. Records.
2016 - The final episode of the NBC sitcom Undateable airs, ending the show’s run after three seasons. The special double length episode features special musical guest The Backstreet Boys.
1922 - The Martin half of the duo Rowan & Martin who rose to fame with their series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Dick Martin is born in Battle Creek, Michigan.
1930 - A two-time Oscar winner for dramatic roles, but with a flair for the comedic, Gene Hackman is born in San Bernardino, California. Roles include Superman, Get Shorty, Young Frankenstein, The Birdcage, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his final film role, Welcome to Mooseport.
1931 - Albert Einstein and his wife are guests of honour at the Los Angeles Theater for the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s new rom-com, City Lights. A silent film four years into the era of “talkies”, the film receives a standing ovation, and over the years gains consideration not just as Chaplin’s best, but as one of the greatest films of all time.
1932 - Japanese comedian initially better known by his stage name Knock Yokoyama before becoming the Governor of Osaka in 1995, Isamu Yamada is born in Hyogo.
1934 - Broadway star who would win two Tony Awards before having her own sitcom The Tammy Grimes Show, actress Tammy Grimes is born in Lynn, Massachusetts. FUN FACT: Her husband Christopher Plummer would also win a Tony, as would their daughter Amanda Plummer.
1958 - Stand-up comic and star of her own sitcom Grace Under Fire, Brett Butler is born in Montgomery, Alabama. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVd515CmRdM
1961 - Hey Boo-Boo, grab the pic-a-nic basket - the first episode of The Yogi Bear Show premieres.
1970 - The Tim Conway Show premieres on CBS. The beloved funnyman stars as a bumbling pilot and airline owner, but the series would last only 13 episodes.
1974 - Oscar, BAFTA, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award winner, known among other things for playing the godmother on the UK series Fleabag, Olivia Colman is born in Norwich, England.
1975 - Four months into starring in his first TV show, Chico and the Man's Freddie Prinze makes his way onto the cover of the Rolling Stone. He becomes the first ever stand-up or male comedy personality to be so featured.
1981 - The sci-fi comedy The Incredible Shrinking Woman premieres in US cinemas. The parody of the classic 1957 science fiction film The Incredible Shrinking Man stars Lily Tomlin as four different characters, with Charles Grodin, Ned Beatty, John Glover and Elizabeth Wilson in supporting roles. It is also the directorial debut of Joel Schumacher, who took over from John Landis after production began.
2015 - On a Thursday night in Austin, Texas, former NFL MVP Adrian Peterson - a running back for the Minnesota Vikings - decides to check out Kevin Hart’s stand-up show on his "What Now" tour. Afterwards, at about 1am, Hart challenges Peterson to a footrace in the middle of the street. The results are predictable - but the much shorter Hart actually makes a respectable showing!
2020 - Artie Lange announces that he has been sober for one year.
1931 - Min and Bill stars Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery get their handprints enshrined in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
1937 - Best known as Bob’s wife Emily on The Bob Newhart Show, Suzanne Pleshette is born in Brooklyn Heights, New York. In 2008, she would be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on what would have been her 71st birthday - unfortunately she had passed away two weeks prior.
1940 - Before he was known for his double Emmy-winning role as Angel Martin on The Rockford Files, he was an absolute go-to guy for sitcoms including M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Monkees, The Partridge Family, Rhoda, and Bewitched. Stuart Margolin is born in one of the Quad-Cities - Davenport, Iowa!
1946 - Comic actor, director, and screenwriter best known as part of the comedy trio KLM, Knut Lystad is born in Norway.
1947 - Best known for Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul - but don’t forget Beverly Hills Cop, Horrible Bosses 2, Community, Identity Thief, and Fired Up - Jonathan Banks is born in Washington, D.C.
1958 - Second City alum and star of The Ron James Show, stand-up Ron James is born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
1971 - Irish stand-up comic Patrick Kielty is born in Dundrum, Northern Ireland.
1972 - Flip Wilson is on the cover of Time magazine, hailed as "TV’s First Black Superstar."
1980 - Unable to find a US distributor, Jerry Lewis’s film about an unemployed clown trying to find work, Hardly Working debuts in West Germany. It would take 14 more months to make it to the states. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkWENNOiwzY
1981 - Comedy legends George Burns, Bob Hope and Johnny Carson break away from their Tuxedo Aficionado cover shoot to appear on the cover of TV Guide to promote their tribute to another legend that week, Jack Benny.
1986 - The Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfus comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills is released.
1986 - Robin Williams plays a man who dropped a pass in the big game back in high school, and is still trying to fix his life. Kurt Russell (the quarterback who threw the ball) and Pamela Reed also star as The Best of Times opens in theatres. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJnsnZPTqT0
1986 - The comedy feature film Hamburger hits theatres.
1987 - Paul Shaffer hosts Saturday Night Live.
1997 - Rodney Dangerfield plays a sleazy talk show host looking to raise his ratings and save his job. Debi Mazar, Cindy Williams and Burt Reynolds are along for the ride as Meet Wally Sparks opens.
1999 - Family Guy premieres on Fox, with a pretty cushy lead-in: Superbowl XXXIII.
2006 - Dame Judi Dench is given a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for starring in the musical comedy Mrs. Henderson Presents. Co-stars include Bob Hoskins and Christopher Guest.
2007 - Revered and diligent longtime showrunner for the open mic at Toronto’s Spirits Bar and Grill, Jo-Anna Downey combines the weekly show with her 40th birthday party. Acts include a who’s who of the city’s comedy scene and special drop in guests Lewis Black and Robin Williams.
2009 - Nagash passes away in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The legendary Indian comedian, known as “The Jerry Lewis of India” for his wacky style, was one of the country’s biggest stars in the 1960s, and is one of the most prolific entertainers in the history of Tamil cinema, having acted in over 1,000 films is his career, which lasted five decades, from 1958 to 2008, when he retired shortly before his death.
2010 - On this date in 2010, John Goodman hosted the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in L.A. Best Comedy Album goes to Stephen Colbert’s A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! Also nominated are Back from the Dead by Spinal Tap, Internet Leaks by "Weird Al" Yankovic, Patton Oswalt's My Weakness is Strong, Suckin' It for the Holidays by Kathy Griffin, and George Lopez's Tall, Dark & Chicano. Meanwhile, Michael J. Fox wins the Best Spoken Word Album award for Always Looking Up, with Jonathan Winters and Carrie Fisher also nominated for A Very Special Time and Wishful Drinking, respectively. Ed Asner is also nominated for best Children’s Spoken Word Album, for Scat.
2011 - Gallagher becomes the first comic to walk out in the middle of taping Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast after conversation turns to others’ accusations that Gallagher’s comedy is sometimes racist and homophobic.
2012 - Almost 30 years to the day after his first appearance on Letterman, as the very first guest on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman, Bill Murray returns as a guest on CBS’ The Late Show.
2012 - Key and Peele debuts. Sketches include Bitch, and the first appearance of Luther, President Obama’s Anger Translator. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zDTfyk6JvE
2019 - The Golden Raspberry Awards (The Razzies) are accused of rigging vote tallies for their nominees after Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades Freed) and Kevin Spacey (Billionaire Boys Club) receive enough votes for Worst Actor but are not nominated.