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This Day in Comedy History

July 22 - July 31

July 22

 

1922 -  Best known as one of the two hosts (along with Dick Martin) of the crazed, counter-culture comedy series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Emmy winner Dan Rowan is born in Beggs, Oklahoma.

1947 - Comedian, Academy Award-nominated actor and filmmaker Albert Brooks is born Albert Lawrence Einstein in Beverly Hills, California. Credits include the films Broadcast News (1987), Private Benjamin (1980), Unfaithfully Yours (1984), Modern Romance (1981), Lost in America (1985), and Defending Your Life (1991). He has also provided his voice to such movies as Finding Nemo (2003) and Finding Dory (2016), The Secret Life of Pets (2016), and as a recurring guest on The Simpsons, including Russ Cargill in The Simpsons Movie (2007).

1949 - Composer Alan Menken is born. The winner of eight Oscars, 11 Grammys, a Tony and a Daytime Emmy is best known for writing scores and songs for many of Disney’s classic animated features, but he’s also done such other titles as Little Shop of Horrors (1986) and Enchanted (2007). He's also known his work in musical theatre and on Broadway, including the stage hits Little Shop of Horrors (1982) and Sister Act (2009).

1959 - Almost two and a half years after its preview screening, the so-bad-it’s-funny classic Plan 9 from Outer Space opens in theatres. Luckily director Ed Wood had all that time to fix it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2ukRYsYPmo

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1964 - From SNL to the big screen (Police Academy 4 (1987), Tommy Boy (1995), Black Sheep (1996), Joe Dirt (2001), Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser (2015), Grown Ups (2010), Grown Ups 2 (2013), Father of the Year (2018)), to sitcom stardom (Just Shoot Me! (1997–2003), Rules of Engagement (2007–2013), 8 Simple Rules (2004–2005)), and even his own late night talk show (Lights Out with David Spade (2019)), actor and stand-up comedian David Spade is born in Birmingham, Michigan.

1964 - John Leguizamo is born in Bogota, Colombia. He rose to fame co-starring with Bob Hoskins in Super Mario Bros. and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe for his role in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. You probably recognize his voice from his roles as Sid the Sloth in the Ice Age animated film series (2002–2016) and as the narrator of the sitcom The Brothers García (2000–2004).

1967 - In Haverfordwest, Wales, Rhys Ifans is born. The actor is known for playing Spike in Notting Hill and “Eyeball” Paul in Kevin & Perry Go Large.

1970 - Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers - Los Angeles surreal sketch comedy troupe the Firesign Theatre's third comedy album - is released by Columbia Records. It would be nominated for a Hugo Award, and in 1983 The New Rolling Stone Record Guide called it "the greatest comedy album ever made". In 2005, the Library of Congress added the album to the National Recording Registry, calling the Firesign Theatre "the Beatles of comedy."

1972 - The variety show The Bobby Darin Amusement Company premieres on CBS.

1973 - Jaime Camil is born in Mexico City. Camil played Rogelio de la Vega in the series Jane the Virgin.

1983 - The John Hughes penned, Michael Keaton starring film Mr. Mom comes out in limited release, co-starring Teri Garr, Jeffrey Tambor, Ann Jillian, Christopher Lloyd and Martin Mull. The film about a laid off auto engineer turned reluctant stay-at-home dad would get a wide release a month later, and end up 13th in that year's box office - a big enough hit that it would earn Hughes a $30 million, three picture deal at Universal. Those pictures would be: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science.

1988 - Caddyshack II premieres, with only Chevy Chase reprising his role from the first film.

1990 - The TV movie El Diablo premieres on HBO. The western comedy stars Lou Gossett Jr. as a gunfighter enlisted by teacher Anthony Edwards to help him track down the infamous El Diablo (Robert Beltran), who has kidnapped one of his students. Supporting actors include Joe Pantoliano, John Glover and Jim Beaver.

2008 - Emmy and Golden Globe winning actress from The Golden Girls, Estelle Getty passes away just three days before her 85th birthday.

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2010 - The romantic action fantasy comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has its World Premiere at San Diego’s Comic Con.

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2011 - Raising money for Riders for Health, the three-day comedy event Laughs in the Park featuring Ross Noble, Tommy Tiernan and Eddie Izzard kicks off at Verulamium Park in St. Albans, England.

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2013 - Former police officer turned actor in films including Get Shorty, Midnight Run, Snatch, Stealing Harvard and What Happens in Vegas, Dennis Farina passes away aged 69.

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2021 - Popular Afghani comedian Khasha Zwan (real name Nazar Mohammad) is kidnapped and executed by the Taliban in Kandahar. A video taken after the kidnapping goes viral.

This Day in Comedy History

July 23

 

1933 - Game show host (Tattletales, Super Password, Win, Lose or Draw) and actor (Semi-Tough, Racquet, Hero at Large, The Cannonball Run) Bert Convy is born in St. Louis, Missouri.

1945 - Actress from Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off, WKRP in Cincinnati, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Mr. Mom, Back to School and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Edie McClurg is born in Kansas City, Missouri. 

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1966 - The final episode of the classic British sitcom The Likely Lads airs on BBC-2.

1973 - Actress from Bad Words, Bad Moms and A Bad Moms Christmas - but not Bad Teacher, for some reason - Kathryn Hahn is born in Westchester, Illinois. Her other credits include This Is Where I Leave You and We’re the Millers.

1978 - Filmed in the round at The Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, George Carlin’s second special George Carlin Again! debuts on HBO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgxYRp0WSow

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1982 - Actor Vic Morrow (God's Little Acre, The Bad News Bears, Wild and Wooly) and two children are killed when a helicopter crashes on them during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places) and four others would later face criminal charges related to the deaths but ultimately be acquitted.

1982 - The World According to Garp premieres, with Robin Williams in the starring role. Mary Beth Hurt co-stars, with John Lithgow and Glenn Close both earning Academy Award nominations for their supporting performances.

1993 - "Young ones! Parental units! We summon you!" Coneheads, the movie based on Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd’s popular Saturday Night Live characters, opens in theatres. The pair are joined by a laundry list of supporting comedians - among them Michael McKean, David Spade, Chris Farley, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Michael Richards, Eddie Griffin, Adam Sandler, Jason Alexander, Lisa Jane Persky, Dave Thomas, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, Drew Carey, Kevin Nealon, Jan Hooks, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Julia Sweeney, Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Meadows, Peter Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz and Tom Arnold. Despite that veritable smorgasbord of comedy talent, the film bombs with critics and at the box office - probably because the Conehead family last appeared on SNL 15 years earlier - but it has come to be much more highly regarded over time.

1998 - Tom Hanks joins the list of stars to have their prints preserved for posterity in the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre.

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1999 - The dark comedy about a small town beauty pageant where contestants keep dying, and with a cast including Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, Brittany Murphy, Allison Janney, Denise Richards, Ellen Barkin and (in her first film) Amy Adams, Drop Dead Gorgeous opens in theatres.

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1999 - The Queen dedicates a bronze statue to Eric Morecambe (of Morecambe & Wise fame), in his home town - and the place he took his showbiz name from, Morecambe, Lancashire, England. In front of the picturesque backdrop of Morecambe Bay, the likeness has the legendary comic in his characteristic leg-up pose, with a pair of binoculars around his neck (he was an avid ornithologist). FUN FACT: Years later, vandals would steal that "leg up," necessitating repairs.

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2003 - The cop mockumentary Reno 911! debuts on Comedy Central.

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This Day in Comedy History

July 24

 

1936 - A Golden Globe winner and five time Emmy nominee for her work as one of the primary cast members of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, comic actress Ruth Buzzi is born in Westerly, Rhode Island.

1946 - Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. is born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But he’s better known mononymously as Gallagher… and for smashing the heck out of watermelons with a sledgehammer!

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1947 - Robert Hays is born in Bethesda, Maryland. The actor is best known for playing pilot Ted Striker in Airplane! and its sequel. He also played Frank in Take This Job and Shove It (1981), Robert Seaver in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993), and Bud Hyde in the series That '70s Show (2000).

1949 - Sketch comedian, actor, and forcibly retired stand-up comedian Michael Richards is born in Culver City, CA.

1952 - Tony and Emmy Award winning actress of stage and screen Kristin Chenoweth is born in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

1965 - Star of The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World Kadeem Hardison is born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He also starred in the Disney Channel series K.C. Undercover, and Showtime’s Black Monday.

1968 - Actor John P. Navin Jr. is born in Philadelphia. He co-starred with Tom Cruise, Shelley Long and Jackie Earle Haley in the Canadian comedy Losin' It (1983), and also played the memorable Cousin Dale in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983). FUN FACT: Navin also has the distinction of being the first customer on Cheers, and speaking the series’ first line of dialogue, as a teenage boy with a fake I.D. who claims to be a Vietnam veteran in a failed effort to get a drink from Sam in the cold open of the pilot episode.

1969 - She started out as a Fly Girl dancer on In Living Color before moving on to fame as a singer and stardom in such films as Out of Sight (1998), The Wedding Planner (2001), Maid in Manhattan (2002), Gigli (2003), Shall We Dance? (2004), Monster-in-Law (2005), The Back-up Plan (2010), What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012) and Second Act (2018). Jennifer Lynn Lopez (aka J.Lo) is born in New York City.

1973 - Comedian Jamie Denbo, known for her TV (Orange is the New Black, Terriers) and film (Spy, Ghostbusters (2016), The Heat) roles, is born in Boston, Massachusetts.  She’s also known for her work with comedy partner Jessica Chaffin as the duo Ronna and Beverly, particularly their eponymous podcast.

1976 - Bonnie Franklin of One Day at a Time finally gets some time away from her two daughters on the cover of TV Guide.

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1979 - On the Rob Reiner/Michael McKean sketch comedy special The TV Show, one sketch - a parody of The Midnight Special - features a heavy metal band playing their song Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare... It's the first time audiences see the band Spinal Tap.

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1979 - Actress from the series Physical and the movies Bridesmaids, Get Him to the Greek, Spy, The Internship, Neighbors, This Is Where I Leave You, Just Buried, Irresistible and Juliet, Naked, Rose Byrne is born in Balmain, New South Wales, Australia.

1980 - After 15 years of heart problems, three days after visiting his parents’ ashes for the first time, and two days after missing a planned reunion dinner with his fellow Goons because of a heart attack, Peter Sellers passes away just after midnight at Middlesex Hospital in London, at the age of 54. His only son, Michael, would also die of a heart attack 26 years to the day later, at the age of 52.

1983 - The World’s Largest Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs is founded in Montreal.

1987 - Mara Wilson is born in Burbank, CA. She became a child star for her roles in the films Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Miracle on 34th Street (1994) and Matilda  (1996), but largely retired from acting in 2000.

2007 - As a guest on The Tonight Show, Rob Schneider shows up dressed in drag and claiming to be actress Lindsay Lohan. The actress was supposed to be a guest but had cancelled following her controversial arrest for driving under the influence.

2009 - Russell Peters plays the Bell Centre in Montreal as part of the Just For Laughs Festival.

2010 - Winona, Minnesota’s Bub’s Brewing Company host their first ever Big Bub's Comedy Show with a stand-up comedy showcase.

2012 - The Jeffersons star Sherman Hemsley passes away in El Paso, Texas, of lung cancer at age 74.

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2015 - After a sudden decline in health, sitcom pioneer and legend Peg Lynch, who created and starred in such radio and television shows as Ethel and Albert, The Couple Next Door, and The Little Things in Life, passes away in Becket, Massachusetts, at the age of 98. She wrote more than 11,000 radio and television scripts over her career, and continued to write until shortly before her death, revisiting her famous radio characters Ethel and Albert as a couple in their 90s themselves.

2018 - Recorded aboard the World War II, US Navy, Essex-class aircraft carrier the USS Hornet at the USS Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum, Iliza Shlesinger’s fourth Netflix special Iliza Sclesinger: Elder Millennial is released.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO9qW20H0uM

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This Day in Comedy History

July 25

 

1908 - Broadway actor who made the move to TV and films, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Enter Laughing, Catch 22, Wholly Moses!, Cocoon and Arthur 2: On The Rocks, Jack Gilford is born in Manhattan, NY.

1923 - Emmy and Golden Globe winning actress best known for playing Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls, Estelle Getty is born in New York City.

1946 - Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin do their first show together, debuting at the 500 Club on Atlantic City's boardwalk; Lewis had suggested Martin as a fill-in after the scheduled singer became unavailable. The duo were not well received on this night - in fact, they do so poorly that the club’s owner Skinny D'Amato threatens to fire them if their act doesn't improve ("show us the funny stuff or you're done"). So they decide to dispose of scripted gags and begin to improvise an act in which Martin sings while Lewis, dressed as a busboy, drops plates and makes a shambles of his songs and the club's decorum. The new act would be a hit! Martin & Lewis would last ten years to the day together, before their famously acrimonious split.

1956 - Exactly ten years to the day after doing their first show together, Dean Martin leaves Martin & Lewis at his first opportunity, following their farewell appearance at the Copacabana Club. Both would continue to have hugely successful careers as solo artists.

1957 - Reuben Award winning cartoonist Ray Billingsley, creator of the comic strip Curtis, is born in Wake Forest, North Carolina, United States.

1965 - Veteran comedy actor Illeana Douglas is born Illeana Hesselberg in Quincy, Massachusetts.

1967 - Friends star Matt LeBlanc is born in Newton, Massachusetts. The Golden Globe winner and multiple Emmy Award nominee also starred in the Friends spin-off series Joey, as a fictionalized version of himself in Episodes, and the CBS sitcom Man with a Plan. But we here at the WWCAs will always remember him most fondly for playing the guy who reluctantly plays baseball with a monkey in Ed.

1967 - Wendy Raquel Robinson is born in Los Angeles. She is best known for her sitcom roles, playing high school principal Regina "Piggy" Grier in The Steve Harvey Show (1996–2002) on The WB, and sports agent Tasha Mack in the Girlfriends spinoff The Game (2006–2015) on CW and BET.

1969 - D.B. Woodside is born in New York City. The actor is known for his television roles as Robin Wood in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Joseph Prestridge in Parenthood, and Malcolm Franks in Single Ladies (pictured with co-star LisaRaye).

1971 - Miriam Shor is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her comedy credits include starring roles in the TV series GCB and Younger.

1973 - David Denman is born in Newport Beach, CA. TV roles include Parenthood and Drop Dead Diva, but he may be best known for playing Pam’s boyfriend Roy in The Office (US). Film credits include The Replacements, Big Fish, Smart People, Fanboys, Let Go, Out Cold, Men, Women & Children and Logan Lucky.

1980 - Harold Ramis’ comedy hit Caddyshack, starring Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight, premieres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9Nl39uWEYk

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1987 - In its sixth year, the annual San Francisco Chronicle Comedy Day moves to a new, and much bigger, venue - the Polo Grounds at Golden Gate Park. All the better to hold the throng who showed up for the free show that included Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Pollak, Greg Proops, Paula Poundstone, Bobcat Goldthwait, Debi and Will Durst, Father Guido Sarducci, Rob Schneider, event founder Jose Simon, Warren Thomas, Bruce Baum, and the show’s biggest booster, Robin Williams.

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1990 - It was “Working Women’s Day” at the San Diego Padres game, and the promotions team had gone beyond the call when, as a guest, they scored the star of the most popular working class sitcom on American television, Roseanne Barr. It would have been perfect to have her throw out the first pitch. Instead they had her sing the National Anthem, which she did, along with spitting and grabbing her crotch. Swing and a miss.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMzIk2pUuNU

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1997 - Autumn Jackson is convicted of trying to extort $40 million from Bill Cosby. She had claimed to be Cosby’s out-of-wedlock daughter.

2000 - Mason Cook is born in Oklahoma City. He played Cecil Wilson in Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011) and Ray DiMeo in the ABC sitcom Speechless (2016-2019).

2007 - Australian TV host and stand-up comedian Rove McManus appears as a guest on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for the second time. In 2011, he would host his own segment for the show: "Rove Across America."

2008 - San Francisco stand-up Larry “Bubbles” Brown, after having appeared on Late Night with David Letterman twice in August of 1987, finally makes it back onto Letterman's show at the suggestion of Robin Williams. Bubbles does The Late Show With David Letterman on this date, and the 21 year gap is a record between stand-up appearances on a talk show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PNz0R9jCzk

2011 - Zach Braff’s play All New People premieres at the Second Stage Theatre in New York City. The cast includes Krysten Ritter, Anne Camp, David Wilson Barnes and Justin Bartha starring in the role Braff himself would play in its second run, the following year.

2016 - Funny Or Die announces the lineup for the 4th Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival featuring John Oliver, Tracy Morgan, Dane Cook, Iliza Shlesinger, John Mulaney, Brian Regan, Jim Jefferies and more.

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2017 - Joe Mande’s Award Winning Comedy Special may have been a touch optimistic as a thought, but it is the title of his special that Netflix released on this day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=remv8bNEPc4

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This Day in Comedy History

July 26

 

1895 - Vaudeville star who became famous as the off-kilter partner to George Burns in the famed radio, tv and film duo Burns And Allen, Gracie Allen is born in San Francisco.

1909 - Award winning actress best known for her work with Lucille Ball, first as Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, then again as Vivian Bagley on The Lucy Show, Vivian Vance is born in Cherryvale, Kansas. 

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1945 - Helen Mirren is born in London. Notable comedies on her lengthy resume include The Madness of King George (1994), Gosford Park (2001), Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999), Calendar Girls (2003), The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) and The Leisure Seeker (2017).

1959 - Kevin Spacey is born in South Orange, New Jersey. His first roles in film were in Mike Nichols' comedies Heartburn (1986) and Working Girl (1988). Other comedy titles include The Ref (1994), Horrible Bosses (2011) and its sequel Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), and of course his Oscar-winning starring role in the black comedy American Beauty (1999).

1963 - The Miracles hit “Mickey’s Monkey” is released by Motown Records. The novelty song would climb to the #8 spot on Billboard and spawn the fad dance craze “The Monkey”.

1964 - Oscar and Golden Globe winner who has been the world’s highest paid actress at different times, whose films include While You Were Sleeping (1995), Hope Floats (1998) Miss Congeniality (2000) and its sequel Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005), Two Weeks Notice (2002), The Proposal (2009), All About Steve (2009), The Heat (2013), and Ocean's 8 (2018), Sandra Bullock is born in Arlington, Virginia. 

1965 - Jeremy Piven is born in New York City. The actor and comedian is best known for playing Ari Gold in the Entourage TV and film series, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and three consecutive Emmy Awards. He also co-starred in Ellen DeGeneres's sitcom Ellen and had a recurring role in Garry Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show. Film appearances include Grosse Pointe Blank, Singles, Very Bad Things, The Family Man, Heat, PCU, Old School, Rock N Rolla, Serendipity and Smokin' Aces.

1967 - The action superstar’s film career began with roles in Guy Ritchie’s crime comedies Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000). Jason Statham is born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, England.

1969 - The cast of Petticoat Junction are drawn to the cover of TV Guide.

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1970 - He’s not just Black Lightning, he’s also known for his comedy work, including his recurring role as Terrence "Scooter" Williams on Fox's sitcom Living Single and Mayor Lavon Hayes on The CW series Hart of Dixie. Cress Williams  is born in Heidelberg, Germany.

1974 - Actor, stand-up comedian and U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms Gary Owen is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Named “The Funniest Serviceman in America," his big break came in 1997 on Black Entertainment Television's stand-up showcase Comic View. BET would later give him his own series, The Gary Owen Show. Film credits include Daddy Day Care, Little Man, and College

1980 - Two days after his death, a private funeral service is held at Golders Green Crematorium for Peter Sellers. The service would feature the final joke of Sellers' illustrious career, as he had requested the playing of Glenn Miller’s upbeat jazz tune “In the Mood.” It was a song all the Goons hated, and he knew that the others would have to sit in silence and listen to it.

1980 - TV Guide uses cast members from Taxi to highlight how much better blue eyes look on a magazine cover.

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1988 - Francia Raisa Almendarez, known professionally as simply Francia Raisa, is born in Los Angeles. Raisa is known for her roles in Bring It On: All or Nothing, The Secret Life of the American TeenagerGrown-ish and the aptly titled How I Met Your Mother followup series How I Met Your Father.

1989 - Stand-up and talk show host Joan Rivers gets a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

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1990 - Bianca Santos is born in Santa Monica, California. She’s known from the MTV series Happyland and the film The DUFF (2015).

1991 - Another You, the final collaborative film by Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, is released.

1991 - Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) is arrested outside an adult movie theater in Sarasota, Florida, for allegedly masturbating during a film. The incident would derail the beloved children’s show host’s career.

1995 - After 110 episodes over six seasons, Northern Exposure comes to an end on CBS, five years and two weeks after it premiered. The show starred Rob Morrow as a doctor sent by the state of Alaska to the remote northern town of Cicely in exchange for underwriting his medical education.

1996 - Singer Donnie Osmond, who co-hosted the 1970s variety series The Donny & Marie Show with his sister, makes an appearance on Rosie O’Donnell’s show to apologize for making comments about the host’s weight during his previous appearance. Rosie accepts - but does make him sing “Puppy Love” to her in a dog suit. (We're guessing she’d make Donald Trump do much worse.)

2002 - Mike Myers' film Austin Powers in Goldmember, the third film in the hit series, is released.

2007 - The first Canadian spin-off of Montreal’s giant comedy event, the Just For Laughs Toronto Festival kicks off with acts including Craig Ferguson, Howie Mandel, George Lopez, John Pinette, Kathleen Madigan, Richard Lewis, Russell Peters, Bill Burr, Jeremy Hotz, Elvira Kurt, Alonzo Bodden and others. 

2019 - During a show at Mutiny Radio in San Francisco’s Mission district, as part of their Bay Area Comedy Festival, comedian Capital Pilcrow tells a seemingly innocuous joke about the name “Jeff.” Unfortunately another comedian in the audience is named Jeff and takes serious exception, and when Pilcrow asks him to “stop talking,” this Jeff leaps on stage and attacks him, presumably on behalf of all Jeffs, before breaking a window and fleeing the scene. No one is interested in pressing charges, and Mutiny Radio opens a crowdfunding page for $500 in repairs.

This Day in Comedy History

July 27

 

1922 - Legendary American TV writer and producer Norman Lear (All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) is born in New Haven, Connecticut.

1940 - Bugs Bunny makes his debut in the Warner Brothers' animated short A Wild Hare.

1956 - Comedian and writer Carol Leifer is born in East Williston, New York. Her stand-up career started in the 1970s when she was in college, but today she is better known as a television writer, whose credits include The Larry Sanders Show, Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld.

1957 - Bill Engvall is born in Galveston, Texas. The stand-up comedian is best known as a member of the “Blue Collar Comedy” group, and for his signature "Here's Your Sign" bit.

1970 - Oh! Calcutta!, a sex comedy musical revue that was first produced Off-Broadway in 1969, premieres in London’s West End at The Roundhouse. It would transfer twice (to the West End Royalty Theatre and The Duchess Theatre) but last until February 1980, for a total of 3,918 performances. The show’s 1976 Broadway revival would do even better, raising the curtain 5,959 times in 13 years to become, at the time, the longest running show in Broadway history.

1972 - Late '50s singing star Bobby Darin gets his own summer replacement variety series titled Dean Martin Presents: The Bobby Darin Amusement Company. Steve Landesberg (later of Barney Miller fame) was a regular for the show’s seven episodes, guests included George Burns, the Smothers Brothers and Rip Taylor, and Bobby played characters like “Dusty John the Hippie” and “The Godmother”.

1972 - Comic and actress from The Groundlings to Saturday Night Live, then on to films including Bridesmaids, Idiocracy and Grown Ups and its sequel Grown Ups 2, Maya Rudolph is born in Gainesville, Florida. 

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1983 - Impressionist Rich Little gets a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

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1983 - SNL’s Heidi Gardner is born in Kansas City, Missouri. She also voices the anthropomorphic cat Cooch on the Crackle/Adult Swim animated series SuperMansion.

1984 - Best known as the star of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black (2013–2019), Taylor Schilling is born in Boston, Massachusetts.

1993 - Three days before it’s wide release, and one day before its official “world premiere” at Hollywood’s Galaxy Theatre, a special sneak peek premiere screening of the dark Mike Myers rom-com So I Married an Axe Murderer takes place at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco, with proceeds benefitting the local film office. Myers plays a beat poet who fears commitment until he meets a beautiful butcher with night terrors (Nancy Travis) who he comes to suspect may also be a serial killer. Co-stars include Amanda Plummer, Anthony LaPaglia and Myers again, as his own Scottish, Bay City Rollers-loving father. The movie also features great cameos by Alan Arkin as a police captain, Debi Mazar as LaPaglia’s girlfriend, Michael Richards as a jerk, Steven Wright as a pilot, Phil Hartman as an Alcatraz tour guide, and Charles Grodin as a commandeered driver. The film doesn’t perform well at the box office, but has gone on to attain cult status. 

1994 - With Larry sick in bed and completely out any other other options, sidekick Hank Kingsley subs in as guest host. First night goes surprisingly well, second night not so much. The Larry Sanders Show episode Hank’s Night In The Sun airs on HBO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aPqhFUvo8E

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1998 - The New Yorker publishes Steve Martin’s essay: "The Sledgehammer: How It Works."

2003 - Initially a star of vaudeville and on Broadway before breaking through on radio and in movies, comic, actor and philanthropist known for the Road To series of films with pal Bing Crosby, his 19 appearances as Oscar host, as well as his countless goodwill USO tours from 1941 to 1991, comedy legend Bob Hope passes away at his home in Toluca Lake, California at the age of 100.

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2006 - The documentary detailing the place of importance the Boston comedy scene of the late '70s and early '80s held, When Stand Up Stood Out is released. Among those featured in the doc are Steven Wright, Denis Leary, Janeane Garofalo, Lenny Clarke, Barry Crimmins, Paula Poundstone, Bobcat Goldthwait, DJ Hazard, Mike Donovan, Kevin Meaney and Colin Quinn.

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2012 - In Montreal, Andy Kindler delivers his annual State of the Industry address at Just For Laughs. Targets include the expected - like Jay Leno, Dane Cook and Chelsea Handler - but in a ballsy move he also lays into Louis CK and his show Louie, topics which at the time were quite well regarded.

This Day in Comedy History

July 28

 

1891 - Actor and comic known for Some Like It Hot, Alibi Ike, Around The World In 80 Days and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Joe E. Brown is born in Holgate, Ohio.

1934 - Canadian actress who was a silent film star at the start of the 20th century, and appeared alongside Charlie Chaplin in the first full length feature comedy Tillie’s Punctured Romance in 1914, and would have a career resurgence in the late 1920s and early '30s where she would star in film classics and win an Oscar for Best Actress, Marie Dressler dies of cancer at the age of 65.

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1945 - Cartoonist Jim Davis, best known as the creator of the comic strips Garfield, U.S. Acres (a.k.a. Orson's Farm) and Gnorm Gnat, is born in Marion, Indiana. Davis also wrote or co-wrote all of the Garfield TV specials and produced the series Garfield & Friends and The Garfield Show and the Garfield CGI movies.

1964 - Known for playing Rebecca Donaldson-Katsopolis on ABC’s hit sitcom Full House (1988–1995) and its Netflix sequel Fuller House (2016–2018), Lori Loughlin is born in Queens, New York City. Movie credits include Back to the Beach, Secret Admirer, Moondance Alexander, Suckers and Old Dogs. Loughlin is also the proud mother of two former USC students.

1974 - Actress Elizabeth Berkley is born in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She is best known for co-starring as Jessie Spano in the teen sitcom Saved by the Bell and for supporting roles in the films The First Wives Club, The Real Blonde and Roger Dodger. On the stage, she made her Broadway debut in Sly Fox with Richard Dreyfuss and replaced Catherine Keener as Bonnie off-Broadway in David Rabe's Hurlyburly.

1978 - The Harold Ramis penned, Ivan Reitman produced and John Landis directed comedy classic Animal House premieres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWjtI6n5xWM

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2006 - The actor has made some comedies but this is the day he became fodder for jokes - particularly by Ricky Gervais. Mel Gibson is arrested for drunk driving. According to the police report, he also screamed obscenities and derogatory comments about Jewish people.

2007 - Bill Murray serves as MC for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival, dressing up in various Clapton guises to show his changing looks through different eras.

2011 - To get a better glimpse inside the exploding genre, Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival hosts The Podfathers, a panel discussion with some of the giants of the early podcasting field. The event features Marc Maron, Greg Proops, Chris Hardwick, Paul F. Thompkins, and Scott Mosier. 

2015 - NBC cancels Welcome to Sweden, Greg Poehler’s show mirroring his own experiences of moving with his girlfriend to her native Sweden, with Amy Poehler co-executive producing and appearing in multiple episodes.

2021 - The Tony Awards Administration Committee announce that comedian and actress Julie Halston has been awarded the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her work fighting pulmonary fibrosis.

This Day in Comedy History

July 29

 

1905 - Star of silent films then talkies, including the smash hit Mantrap (1926), who was the top box office draw in the world for 1928 and 1929 and gained the title as Hollywood’s “It Girl”, Clara Bow is born in Brooklyn, NYC.

1906 - Comic actress and businesswoman who starred alongside The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante, “The Ice Cream Blonde” Thelma Todd is born in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

1914 - Stand-up comic “Professor” Irwin Corey is born in Brooklyn, NY. Famously billing himself as “The World’s Foremost Authority”, he was a mainstay at San Francisco’s famed “hungry i” comedy club, where he perfected his unique improvisational comedy act, and a frequent guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. He would live to the age of 102.

1943 - She played Fonzie’s longtime girlfriend Carol "Pinky" Tuscadero on the television series Happy Days - Roz Kelly is born in Mount Vernon, New York.

1950 - Busy character actor Mike Starr is born in Flushing, New York. He’s been in a ton of great shows and films, so we’ll just pick our three favorite Mike Star roles: Kidnapper “Mental” Joe Mentalino in Dumb & Dumber, Mulligan in Cabin Boy and Pooter the Clown in Uncle Buck.

1957 - Labeled an "unproductive airman" by his superiors, future standup comedy superstar George Carlin receives a general discharge from the US Air Force in Louisiana. He had frequently been punished and reprimanded, and even faced three courts-martial: one for refusing to obey an order, another for falling asleep during an active combat drill, and one for celebrating the Brooklyn Dodgers' World Series win - by getting drunk on cooking wine and telling off his sergeant.

1957 - Jack Paar makes his debut as host of NBC’s Tonight Show.

1963 - Versatile English entertainer, comedian and musician Roy Castle marries dancer Fiona Dickson. They had been introduced by Eric Morecambe.

1965 - The Beatles’ second film, the musical comedy-adventure Help!, has its royal premiere at London’s Pavilion Theatre.

1969 - Timothy Omundson is born in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is known for playing Carlton Lassiter in Psych and King Richard on the musical series Galavant.

1972 - Since each episode was completely built with new guest stars, an idea of what the sitcom Love, American Style might be is featured on the cover of TV Guide.

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1974 - Josh Radnor is born in Columbus, Ohio. He is best known for starring as Ted Mosby on the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. He is also a filmmaker whose movies include Happythankyoumoreplease (2010) and Liberal Arts (2012).

1978 - With what many still consider it’s best cast, and a show that has been influential since it debuted, three years into its run, Saturday Night Live makes the cover of TV Guide for the first time.

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1983 - The humble story of a loving family taking a trip to Wally World, National Lampoon’s Vacation opens on North American screens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHThGmVfE3A

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1983 - Kaitlyn Black, who played Annabeth Nass in The CW series Hart of Dixie, is born in Ohio.

1988 - With a cast that includes John Cleese (who also wrote the script), Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin, the American/British heist comedy A Fish Called Wanda opens in theatres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xxdYfUvi9g

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1991 - CBS announces that Pee-Wee’s Playhouse will be removed from syndication following its star Paul Reubens’ arrest in Sarasota, Florida, where he was accused of masturbating at an adult movie theatre.

1994 - Jim Carrey’s biggest success to that point, and also the feature film debut of Cameron Diaz, The Mask opens in wide release.

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1995 - Scott Thompson makes his debut as Brian on The Larry Sanders Show in the episode Hank’s New Assistant.

1996 - Comedian Martin Lawrence is arrested at the airport in Burbank, California, after police find a loaded handgun in a suitcase he was taking on a flight to Phoenix.

2000 - Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston marry in Malibu, California. They would separate four and a half years later.

2005 - A guy walks into a talent agent’s office and then more than 100 comics tell you their own disgusting, disturbing versions of what happens next. The star-packed documentary The Aristocrats opens in New York and Los Angeles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxGD0rk547Y

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2006 - Actress Pamela Anderson and musician Kid Rock are married in St. Tropez, France. They would both file for divorce four months later.

2011 - In celebration of its 60th anniversary, a digitally restored version of the classic English “Ealing Comedy” The Lavender Hill Mob is re-released by cinemas in the UK. The BAFTA Award winner for Best British Film also won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay. The heist comedy stars Stanley Holloway and Alec Guinness, who picked up an Oscar nod for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film has also been named by The British Film Institute as the 17th greatest British film of all time.

2011 - John Pinette’s stand-up special Still Hungry premiered on Comedy Central.

2015 - On the 32nd anniversary of the release of National Lampoon's original Vacation film, the sequel-slash-reboot road comedy Vacation opens in the US. It stars Ed Helms and Leslie Mann as grown-up Rusty and Audrey Griswold, and Christina Applegate and Chris Hemsworth as their spouses. Original Vacation stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo make torch-passing cameos as Clark and Ellen Griswold. It is the sixth installment of National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movie series, and although critics' reviews are mostly negative it does well at the box office.

2016 - The Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate film Bad Moms opens in theatres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKCw-kqo3cs

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This Day in Comedy History

July 30

 

1925 - British comedian Stan Stennett is born in the small village of ­Pencoed outside Bridgend, South Wales. Stennett would catch the entertainment bug at 9, with a childhood job selling ice cream in theatres, and worked as a comedian, actor and musician his entire life, even entertaining his fellow troops during his stint in the army. A friend of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, he also worked with Max Miller, Spike Milligan, Ronnie Corbett, Ken Dodd and American stars like The Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy, Bob Hope, Tony Bennett and James ­Cagney.

1939 - Director Peter Bogdanovich is born in Kingston, NY. His films include the smash hit screwball comedy What's Up, Doc? (1972) as well as Paper Moon (1973), which earned him a Golden Globe nod for Best Director, They All Laughed (1981), Noises Off (1992), The Thing Called Love (1993) and She's Funny That Way (2014). As an actor, he is known for his roles in HBO series The Sopranos and Orson Welles' posthumous movie The Other Side of the Wind (2018), which he also helped finish.

1941 - Spanish actor and comedian Rosa Maria Sarda is born in Barcelona. The winner of multiple awards, she is best remembered for her prolific theatre career as well as numerous movie credits, notably My Mother Likes Women/A mi madre le gustan las mujeres (2002), Spanish Affair 2/Ocho apellidos catalanes (2015), Happy But Not Too Much/Alegre ma non troppo (1994) and The Queen of Spain/La reina de España (2016).

1947 - He doesn't just deliver funny one-liners as the star of blockbuster action movies, he's also a straight-up comedy star in films such as Twins (1988), Red Heat (1988), Kindergarten Cop (1990), Last Action Hero (1993), True Lies (1994), Junior (1994), The Villain (1979) and Jingle All the Way (1996) - Arnold Schwarzenegger is born in Thal, Austria.

1956 - Emmy nominated actress Delta Burke is born in Orlando, Florida. She’s best known for starring as Suzanne Sugarbaker in the hit CBS sitcom Designing Women. She also starred in the shows Filthy Rich, Delta, Women of the House and DAG.

1958 - Richard Burgi (who played Karl Mayer on Desperate Housewives) is born in Montclair, New Jersey.

1961 - Earl "Pops" Johnson in ABC’s sitcom Black-ish, Laurence Fishburne is born in Augusta, Georgia.

1963 - Best known for playing Phoebe Buffay on Friends, the role that would win her an Emmy, actress Lisa Kudrow is born in Los Angeles.

1964 - Her films include Booty Call (1997), Soul Food (1997), Kingdom Come (2001), Two Can Play That Game (2001), and Boat Trip (2002), and she starred in the Fox sitcom Getting Personal (1998) - Vivica A. Fox is born in South Bend, Indiana.

1966 - Johnny Carson shows off his new socks on the cover of TV Guide.

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1968 - Actor and comedian Terry Crews is born in Flint, Michigan. He is known for playing NYPD Lieutenant Terry Jeffords in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Julius Rock in Everybody Hates Chris, and himself in the reality series The Family Crews. He also hosted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (US). Film credits include Friday After Next (2002), White Chicks (2004), Idiocracy (2006) and Blended (2014).

1970 - Stand-up comedian and impressionist best known for his time as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, Dean Edwards is born in The Bronx, New York City.

1971 - Tom Green is born in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, probably already stroking a dead raccoon.

1971 - Actress from DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Zoolander, The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel, Christine Taylor is born in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

1977 - Jaime Pressly is born in Kinston, North Carolina. She’s best known for co-starring as Joy in the Jason Lee sitcom My Name is Earl, and for her recurring role in the Anna Faris/Allison Janney sitcom Mom. Movie credits include Not Another Teen Movie (2001), Joe Dirt (2001), I Love You, Man (2009), and A Haunted House 2 (2014).

1979 - Best known as the co-creator and host of Comedy Central’s Drunk History, comic Derek Waters is born in Lutherville, Maryland.

1980 - April Bowlby, known for playing Kandi on the CBS comedy series Two and a Half Men (2006–2015) and Stacy Barrett on Drop Dead Diva (2009–2014), is born in Vallejo, CA.

1982 - Australian actress of Polish descent Yvonne Strahovski is born Yvonne Jacqueline Strzechowski in Werrington Downs, New South Wales. She is best known for her roles as CIA Agent Sarah Walker in the NBC comedy-drama spy series Chuck.

1982 - Comedian and actor Martin Schienle, professionally known as Martin Starr, is born in Santa Monica, CA. He’s best known for playing Bill Haverchuck on Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000), Roman DeBeers on Party Down (2009–2010) and Bertram Gilfoyle on Silicon Valley (2014–2019). He’s also been seen in such films as Knocked Up (2007) and Adventureland (2009).

1983 - Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley of The Jeffersons move on up to the cover of TV Guide.

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1984 - Gina Rodriguez-LoCicero is born in Chicago. She won a Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy Golden Globe for starring as Jane Villanueva in The CW satirical romantic dramedy series Jane the Virgin (2014–2019).

1996 - One of classic Hollywood’s greatest stars, actress Claudette Colbert passes away in Speightstown, Barbados at the age of 92. She won an Oscar for her performance in It Happened One Night.

1998 - Howdy Doody creator Buffalo Bob Smith dies of cancer in Flat Rock, North Carolina, aged 80.

1999 - Joey King is born in Los Angeles. She starred in the films Ramona and Beezus (2010), The Kissing Booth (2018) and The Kissing Booth 2 (2020).

2004 - The story of two stoners trying to get some burgers and all the things that get in the way of that pursuit, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle opens in theatres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjPSqp12wtk

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2019 - The latest special by Whitney Cummings, Can I Touch It premieres on Netflix.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kXgLm2tGoM

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This Day in Comedy History

July 31

 

1929 - Nightclub, casino and television comic also known for the films Analyze This and Analyze That, Pat Cooper is born Pasquale Caputo in Brooklyn. 

1929 - Actor Don Murray is born in Hollywood. He played many roles in his career but is best known for his breakout performance in the film Bus Stop (1956) with Marilyn Monroe, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination.

1944 - Three time Golden Globe nominated actress Geraldine Chaplin is born in Santa Monica, California. A daughter of Charlie Chaplin, she’s fittingly no stranger to comedy. Two of her nominations came for her roles in Nashville (1975) and Chaplin (1992), a comedy-drama biopic in which she played her own grandmother Hannah Chaplin.

1952 - Actor Alan Autry is born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He’s best known for his roles in the Brett Butler sitcom Grace Under Fire, and the Jean Smart sitcom Style & Substance.

1953 - Actor James Read is born in Buffalo, New York. Film credits include Not Another Teen Movie, A Lot Like Love, Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.

1957 - Actor Dirk Blocker (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is born.

1962 - Actor Wesley Snipes, whose comedy work includes his acclaimed performance in Eddie Murphy’s Dolemite Is My Name, is born in Orlando, Florida.

1965 - Fred MacMurray and two of his "Three Sons" on the cover of TV Guide. Presumably, the third son took the picture.

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1968 - The historical sitcom Dad’s Army, remembered as one of the top British TV shows ever, debuts on BBC 1.

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1969 - Loren Dean is born in Las Vegas, Nevada. His big break came when he was cast as a bad ex-boyfriend in Say Anything... starring John Cusack. Other credits include Starstruck and Mumford.

1975 - Actress Annie Parisse (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) is born.

1977 - Actor Robert Telfer (Saved by the Bell) is born.

1979 - Not just Ryan Howard on the American version of The Office, but also a writer, director, and Executive Producer of the series, actor B.J. Novak is born in Newton, Massachusetts.

1989 - Upright Citizens Brigade performer, Daily Show correspondent, and star of the film The Incredible Jessica James; actress, comic and podcaster Jessica Williams is born in Los Angeles.

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1990 - Zsa Zsa Gabor, known for her roles in Lovely to Look At (1952) and We're Not Married! (1952), The Most Wanted Man (1953) and 3 Ring Circus (1954) is released from jail in El Segundo, California after serving a 72-hour sentence for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer.

1998 - Actor-turned-security guard Gary Coleman, best remembered as a child star from numerous movies and the hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, turns himself in to police after allegedly punching a customer named Tracy Fields, who claimed to be a fan and asked for his autograph only to taunt him when he refused. Seriously? “Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Tracy Fields?!”

1998 - Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family) is born.

2000 - At the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game, an exhibition between the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers, stand-up comic, SNL alum, and host of his own talk show Dennis Miller stands behind a microphone with Al Michaels and Dan Fouts to broadcast football on ABC for the first time. 

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2009 - A successful stand-up with less than a year to live befriends an up-and-comer and takes him under his wing. Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen’s film Funny People opens in theatres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzciY15Q3BA

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2019 - Turned down by every network and streaming system it was pitched to, Kathy Griffin’s self produced special A Hell of a Story gets a one-day theatrical release.

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2019 - The 100th and final episode of Jane the Virgin airs on The CW, bringing the show to a close after five seasons. Gina Rodriguez stars as the titular Latina, a devout 23 year old virgin who is accidentally artificially inseminated by her gynecologist. During its run, the acclaimed series was nominated for a Peabody Award as well as a Best Musical or Comedy Series at the Golden Globes, where Rodriguez won the award for Best Actress - TV Series Musical or Comedy.

2020 - The Philippines’ first drive-in theatre is opened, at SM Supermalls. SM City Pampanga Amphitheater's "Movies at Dusk" promises families a pandemic-safe way to watch movies together. The first night's double consists of the spy comedy My Spy, starring Dave Bautista, Kristen Schaal and Ken Jeong, and the South Korean heist sequel Train to Busan 2: Peninsula, with tickets priced at PHP 400.

2020 - A show that would help lead to her Comedy Tailgate Tour in the Fall, Iliza Shlesinger performs outdoors at the Yarmouth Drive-In on Cape Cod.

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This Day in Comedy History

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