This Day in Comedy History
March 8 - March 14
1969 - The cast of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In appear on the cover of TV Guide.
1971 - Placed with Chaplin and Keaton as one of the greatest stars and comic influences of the silent era, Harold Lloyd passes away at the age of 77.
1978 - Originally created for radio before being adapted into novels, a TV series, a feature film, and video games, the Douglas Adams penned science fiction comedy The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy makes its debut on BBC Radio 4.
1982 - With a cast of Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, the final episode of the groundbreaking series Not The 9 O’Clock News airs on BBC2.
1993 - Based on a short film by Mike Judge called Frog Baseball, the animated series Beavis and Butthead debuts on MTV.
1994 - The 20th People’s Choice Awards are broadcast from Universal Studios. Winners include Tim Allen and Roseanne for Male and Female TV Performers, Brett Butler and Kelsey Grammer for Performers in New Series, and Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams for Film Performance. Paul Reiser hosted the event.
1996 - The Birdcage premieres, starring Robin Williams Nathan Lane, Diane Wiest, and Gene Hackman.
1996 - With Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi starring, the Coen Brothers' dark comedy-drama Fargo opens in theatres. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2tY82z3xXU
1997 - Self-proclaimed “King Of All Media” Howard Stern proves his point by making the cover of TV Guide.
1999 - Oscar nominated for her role in Auntie Mame, and known for other films including Gidget Goes Hawaiian and If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, actress, comic and favourite celebrity game show contestant Peggy Cass passes away at age 74.
2001 - Best remembered for his recurring role as Col. Flagg on M*A*S*H, actor Edward Winter passes away at age 63.
2002 - An overt attempt at packaging for a large Canadian box office, Due South star Paul Gross, Leslie Nielsen returning home, music and a cameo by The Tragically Hip in a film about curling, Men With Brooms has its premiere at the Edmonton International Film Festival.
2004 - Actor from films including Sister Act 2: Bad In The Habit and Be Cool, though best known as house painter Eldin Bernecky on the series Murphy Brown, Robert Pastorelli dies of a drug overdose in his Hollywood Hills home.
2012 - Modelled as a latter day youth version of SCTV, the series That’s So Weird has its series finale on YTV.
2020 - Frequent Tonight Show guest during the Carson era, and star of the films They Call Me Bruce? and They Still Call Me Bruce, Korean-American stand-up and actor Johnny Yune passes away at the age of 83.
Born On This Day
1921 - The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island, Alan Hale Jr. is born in Los Angeles.
1945 - Theatre, film and television actress best known for the role of Emma Leroy on Corner Gas, Janet Wright is born in Farnborough, Hampshire, England.
1945 - Drummer, vocalist, and broadest comedian from The Monkees, Micky Dolenz is born in Los Angeles.
1956 - Second City Chicago alum from the John Hughes films Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science as well as Roxanne and Phil the Alien, actor John Kapelos is born in London, Ontario, Canada.
1976 - The only child of his namesake comic and TV star father, actor Freddie Prinze Jr. is born in Los Angeles.
1977 - Best known for playing Julianne on the series Being Erica, as well as from film roles in Welcome To Mooseport, Corner Gas: The Movie, and Escape From The Newsroom, Reagan Pasternak is born in Toronto, Canada.
1963 - While the story inside is all about her, Donna Douglas shares the cover of TV Guide with her Beverly Hillbillies co-star Buddy Ebson.
1982 - Walter Matthau gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1986 - Though it would eventually come back as a syndicated show, and even later as a rebooted series, the final episode of the sitcom Punky Brewster airs on NBC.
1987 - Rising up from the ranks of the burgeoning British alternative comedy scene, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders continue to scale new heights as the show that would make them stars, French and Saunders has its debut on BBC Two.
1990 - What do you do when the parents go on vacation? Kid ‘n Play had the correct answer. House Party opens in wide release. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d53TR1JnNCQ
1991 - Winners at the 5th American Comedy Awards include Meryl Streep and Macaulay Culkin for film Actress and Actor, Ellen DeGeneres and Dennis Wolfberg in the stand-up categories, the Creative Achievement Award to Carl Reiner, and the Lifetime Achievement recipients Doris Day and Jack Lemmon, all in front of a star packed audience in Los Angeles.
1996 - George Burns passes away, aged 100.
2004 - The heavily ad-libbed series Significant Others debuts on Bravo.
2004 - Cracking Up premieres on Fox. The series initially revolves around Tanner Shackleton (Bret Loehr) of a wealthy Beverly Hills family. By the second episode the series’ focus would shift to Ben (Jason Schwartzman), the man who lives in the family’s guest house.
Born On This Day
1936 – Marty Ingels is born Martin Ingerman in New York City. The American actor and comedian is best remembered for co-starring in the series I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster.
1971 - Star of the 80’s sitcom Webster (he had the title role), Emmanuel Lewis is born in Brooklyn.
1978 - Film and stage actress Katherine Parkinson, who won BAFTA and British Comedy Awards for her role as Jen Barber on The IT Crowd, is born in Hounslow, London, England.
1981 - Award-winning stand-up and Squirrely Dan on Letterkenny, K. Trevor Wilson is born in Toronto, Canada.
1962 - With his run at the helm of The Tonight Show coming to an end, host Jack Paar is featured on the cover of TV Guide.
1966 - David Frost’s new series, which would both include and influence the next generation of British comedy, debuts on the BBC. Its cast featured Corbett & Barker (the future Two Ronnies) and John Cleese, and the writing staff was rich with future Goonies, Pythons, Yes, Ministers, and a Marty Feldman thrown in for good luck. Each week The Frost Report would have a different theme, and the first episode was about “Authority”.
1972 - Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball rom-com What’s Up, Doc? is released. Co-written with Buck Henry and David Newman, the film stars Barbra Streisand, Ryan O’Neal, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars (pictured), Sorrell Booke, Randy Quaid, M. Emmet Walsh and the voices of Warner Bros. cartoon stars Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Block.
1998 - A series with a title that leaves no doubt as to what it’s about - Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place - debuts on ABC. The show stars Ryan Reynolds, Richard Ruccolo and Traylor Howard as the titular two guys and one girl, while the pizza place was left uncredited. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u4nQGlyTVg
2004 - Actor from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, the Police Academy series, and the CTV series Snow Job, Jack Creley passes away aged 78.
2005 – Dave Allen, Irish-English observational comedian and satirist, passed away aged 68.
2007 - With his first ever show in New Zealand, Weird Al Yankovic kicks off The Straight Outta Lynwood Tour at Auckland’s St. James Theatre.
2007 - Popular stage and talk show comic (Conan, Ferguson, Letterman, 17 Tonight Show appearances), also known for Platypus Man and The Mask, comedian Richard Jeni takes his own life in his West Hollywood home.
2008 - The “trying-to-get-over-a-bad-relationship-and-things-go-worse” flick Forgetting Sarah Marshall premieres at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin. The cast includes Jason Segel, Kristin Bell, Mila Kunis and Russell Brand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSwA6QQW8P4
2011 - In Rochester, Minnesota, during his sledge-o-matic bit, Gallagher collapses on stage, gripping his chest. He is rushed to Saint Marys Hospital, where doctors determine he has suffered a minor heart attack.
2014 - WTF with Marc Maron airs the Kevin MacDonald/Kevin McDonald episode. Expecting to interview Kids In The Hall’s Kevin McDonald, Maron is startled when Scottish film director Kevin Macdonald arrives. He excuses himself for a bit, researches the Last King Of Scotland helmsman, and returns to begin a more general-questioned conversation/interview than normal. Later, he would book the KITH Kevin McDonald and package the two together.
2020 - Marc Maron’s special End Times Fun is released on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdgrEGFu44E
Born On This Day
1962 - Best known for her six seasons starring as Whitley Gilbert on A Different World, as well as roles in films such as School Daze and Harlem Nights, actress Jasmine Guy is born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1969 - After getting an initial career boost from a recurring role on Friends, she would go on to Andy Richter Controls The Universe, Drunk History, Community, Mom, and BoJack Horseman. Paget Brewster is born on this day in Concord, Massachusetts.
1971 - When he wasn’t being a suave, womanizing, advertising heavyweight, he could be dorky or funny or both on 30 Rock, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and SNL, and in Bridesmaids, and Keeping Up With The Joneses... Jon Hamm is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
1979 - Abed Nadir on the series Community, Danny Pudi is born in Chicago.
1970 - At the 12th Annual Grammy Awards, Bill Cosby takes the Best Comedy Recording trophy for “Bill Cosby, aka Sports”.
1977 - The Sanford and Son spinoff built around Fred Sanford’s widower friend comes to an end as the last episode of Grady airs on NBC.
2000 - TV Guide champions the Aaron Sorkin series Sports Night on its cover.
2010 - When Conan O’Brien was pushed into resigning from The Tonight Show, the terms of his settlement with NBC legally prevented him from appearing on television until the following September, prompting O’Brien to announce on this date via Twitter his upcoming 42-date The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour.
2014 - The President of the United States talks health care and more in an interview on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xs5W5VRILY&list=PLJ1VBdx4v0OdGC-kM2vQTuT9k-E0SXPIh
2018 - Known in Britain as “the last great music hall entertainer”, stand-up, singer, and comic actor Sir Ken Dodd OBE passes away at his home in the Knotty Ash section of Liverpool, the same house he was born in, at age 90.
2019 - Kathy Griffin’s self-financed full length concert film/documentary A Hell of a Story has its premiere at Austin’s South By Southwest. Her first work since posting a picture of herself holding up a bloody Donald Trump head, the special would be turned down by every network and streaming service it was offered to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGnbKgmUzGc
Born On March 11
1895 - The most normal-haired of all The Three Stooges, Shemp Howard is born Samuel Horwitz in New York City.
1946 - Mark Metcalf (ROTC leader Douglas C. Neidermeyer in Animal House) is born in Findlay, Ohio.
1950 - Airplane! director Jerry Zucker is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1952 - Susan Richardson (Eight is Enough) is born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
1952 - Hugo Horton on The Vicar of Dibley and the well-intentioned Tom in Four Weddings and a Funeral, actor James Fleet is born in Bilston, Staffordshire, England.
1964 - A British Comedy Award winner for her role as Alice Tinker on The Vicar of Dibley, and Hugh Grant’s younger sister in Notting Hill, comic actress Emma Chambers is born in Doncaster, England.
1965 - Following his film debut in John Hughes’ Weird Science, he would go on to play head writer Phil on The Larry Sanders Show and Josh on Veronica’s Closet, with film roles including Daddy Day Care and Little Miss Sunshine. Comic actor Wallace Langham is born in Fort Worth, Texas.
1971 - Jackass star Johnny Knoxville is born Philip John Clapp in, wait for it... Knoxville, Tennessee. (Surprise!)
1960 - The Peter Sellers/Sophia Loren album of comical songs Peter and Sophia enters the British charts. It would include the popular single Bangers and Mash, and the Top 5 hit Goodness Gracious Me.
1967 - The Sid Caesar movie The Busy Body is released to theatres. The madcap mobster flick is best remembered for being Richard Pryor’s film debut.
1969 - Bill Cosby wins the Best Comedy Performance at the 11th Annual Grammy Awards for his album To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With… Whether Russell was there by choice or because Bill had drugged his drink is up for debate.
1979 - Mork & Mindy's Robin Williams makes the cover of Time magazine.
1994 - While he had been on the show a decade earlier as a member of Spinal Tap, Michael McKean makes his debut as a member of the Saturday Night Live cast. Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan hosts.
1996 - The Dana Carvey Show debuts on NBC. With a cast including Carvey and as-yet unknowns Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, and comedy writers such as Louis CK, Carell, Colbert, Robert Smigel, Charlie Kaufman, Greg Daniels, Bob Odenkirk and more, it still only aired for six weeks before the network axed it.
2003 - John Ritter hosted the First Annual TV Land Awards. Winners included Diahann Carroll for Julia (Groundbreaking Role), All in the Family (Innovator), and The Dick Van Dyke Show (Legend). Presenters included Matthew Perry, Ted Danson, Maureen McCormick, Davy Jones, Mira Sorvino, Halle Berry and Kathy Bates.
2004 - Global cancels The Mike Bullard Show. Finally.
2008 - Lewis Black presides over a mock court where comedians face off to make their case for what is the worst thing. Some of the topics debated were American Idol, Las Vegas, Paris Hilton, Beer, and the Catholic Church, while combatants included Patton Oswalt, Kathleen Madigan, Andy Kindler, Paul F. Tompkins, and Greg Giraldo. Lewis Black’s Root Of All Evil debuts on Comedy Central.
2011 - SNL features the pre-taped sketch The Original Kings of Catchphrase Comedy Tour. The tour includes Original Kings David “Beef Jelly” Winfield (Keenan Thompson), Goran “Funky Boy” Bogdan, Slappy Pappy, and Pete “Airhorn” Schultz (Zack Galifianakis), as well as their guests Barry The Plumbing Gentleman, Mike “Insert Joke Here” Henry, Chip “So Yeah, I’m Single” Fenny (Andy Samberg), Boston Powers (Seth Myers), Dr. Velociraptor (Jay Pharoh), Addi “News Flash” Sweeney, White Bernie Mac (Jason Sudekis), and Fur Coat Rhonda.
2014 - A family pulls together to keep their heads above water after the father dies. With a cast headlined by Andrea Martin the series Working The Engels debuts on Global (and later in the year on NBC). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B0O6xtZvzM
2015 - Shot for a Funny or Die HBO special, Will Ferrell plays 10 different positions for 10 different Major League Baseball teams in one day during spring training. It was released as Ferrell Takes The Field and the proceeds went to two cancer charities.
2017 - Artie Lange was arrested on three charges for possession of heroin, cocaine and drug paraphernalia in his car and on his person, in the parking garage of his apartment complex.
2017 - Starring James Franco, the film that covers the period leading up to the production of one of the worst films of all time (Tommy Wiseau’s The Room), The Disaster Artist has its debut at the SXSW Festival.
2018 - Jimmy Carr’s special The Best Of Ultimate Greatest Gold Hits! is released on Netflix.
2019 - Three days before its Paramount Network release the documentary I Am Richard Pryor (featuring appearances by Sandra Bernhard, Lily Tomlin, Mike Epps and Howie Mandel among others) premieres at SXSW. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5RJUaFIKvE
Born On March 12
1919 - Originally a film "tough guy", Frank Campanella's hard exterior was also put to good use in many comedies, including The Producers, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, Heaven Can Wait, Young Doctors in Love, and Pretty Woman. He was born on this day in New York City.
1930 - Known for recurring roles on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and Rhoda, for playing Richard Pryor’s father in Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling, and for frequent appearances on 1970s celebrity game shows, Scoey Mitchell is born in Newburgh, New York.
1931 - Child actor best known for his character Buckwheat in the Our Gang/Little Rascals shorts, Billie Thomas is born in Los Angeles.
1933 - Best known as Agent 99 on the sixties series Get Smart, Barbara Feldon is born in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.
1946 - Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Oscar award winning singer and actress who, in her spare time, was able to star alongside Dudley Moore in two Arthur films, appear in Sex and the City 2, and wobble through the role of Lucille Austero on Arrested Development, Liza Minelli is born in Los Angeles.
1922 - Fatty Arbuckle’s third trial kicks off in San Francisco, CA. The first two ended in mistrials but this time the prosecution completely falls apart. Not only would Arbuckle be exonerated, the jury spent five of its six minutes of deliberations writing a letter of apology which was read and presented to him by the foreman, which he kept and treasured the rest of his life. Unfortunately, none of this helped Arbuckle’s career, which never recovered from the scandal.
1979 - The Ropers debuts on ABC, with easy to explain origins: it’s a spinoff of Three’s Company, that is based on the British series George & Mildred, which itself was a spinoff of Man About The House, which Three’s Company was based on, that existed in the same world as Three's A Crowd. Got it? Good.
1980 - Movin’On, the final episode of the beloved Canadian sitcom The King of Kensington, airs on CBC.
1992 - The Bobcat Goldthwait film Shakes the Clown is released starring Goldthwait and Julie Brown, with support from Adam Sandler, Kathy Griffin, Florence Henderson, Tom Kenny, LaWanda Page and Robin Williams.
1992 - Popular with adults and “yoots” alike, the fish-out-of-water court comedy My Cousin Vinny opens in theatres. The cast includes Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Bruce McGill, Fred Gwynne (in his final film) and Marisa Tomei, who would win an Oscar for her performance as Mona Lisa Vito.
1997 - Janeane Garofalo and Lauren Graham guest on the first of a two-part Law and Order titled D-Girl. Briscoe and Curtis are sent to Los Angeles to talk to a fitness instructor after the death of a movie executive, where they learn there may have been a romantic angle. Oooooh.
2005 - On the Arrested Development episode Motherboy XXX the Bluths hope that a captured shark has the seal in its stomach which has Buster’s hand in its stomach. When it turns out the shark only has the seal’s flipper the crowd disperses, and family lawyer Barry (Henry Winkler) hops over the fish as he leaves. That’s right - Fonzie jumps the shark, again.
2005 - It was developed to be a “real time” series, only to abandon the format after just one episode. That first episode of the John Stamos sitcom Jake In Progress aired on this date on ABC.
2006 - An Emmy, Oscar, and Tony Award winning actress known for Bye, Bye Birdie, Plaza Suite, Cocoon, Johnny Dangerously and The Money Pit, Maureen Stapleton passes away at 80.
2006 - Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ series The New Adventures of Old Christine makes its debut on CBS. She plays a divorced mother, and would win a second Best Actress Emmy for the role.
2018 - Ricky Gervais’ special Humanity is released on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhRMNKEPSLk
2020 - Organizers announced the cancellation of the 2020 Melbourne International Comedy Festival due to the COVID pandemic. This marks the first time since its inception in 1987 that there wouldn’t be one.
Born On March 13
1950 - Award-winning actor from films including Fargo, Wag The Dog, State And Main, Thank You For Smoking, and Wild Hogs, and the TV series Shameless (US) and Sports Night, William H. Macy is born in Miami, Florida.
1954 - One of the only three comics to perform on both SCTV and SNL, Robin Duke is born in Toronto.
1956 - Emmy Award-winning actress known for Desperate Housewives and The Comedians on TV, and the films Housesitter, Live Nude Girls, and Wide Awake, Dana Delaney is born in New York City.
1976 - Steven Hyde on That 70’s Show and Rooster Bennett in The Ranch, actor Danny Masterson is born on Long Island, New York.
1937 - Jack Benny and Fred Allen, two superstars of radio who waged a faux feud, meet to do their shows together live from the Ballroom of New York’s Hotel Pierre. The Battle of the Century would be heard by the 2nd largest audience in radio history.
1940 - The first in the “Road to” series of films starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, Road to Singapore, has its premiere at The Paramount in New York City. The program also includes a full performance by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (featuring drummer Buddy Rich and vocalist Frank Sinatra), and added attraction Red Skelton.
1963 - Debuting on this date at the Warner Theatre in London’s West End, it’s the familiar tale of Australian gangsters on the road disguising themselves as police officers to commit crimes. Peter Sellers stars in The Wrong Arm Of The Law.
1972 - At the 14th Annual Grammy Awards, the Best Comedy Recording trophy goes to Lily Tomlin for This Is A Recording, the first ever win for a solo female act. On the same ceremony, the Best Recording for Children award goes to Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs, in which the Cos presumably tells children: “Drugs aren’t for you - they’re for me to put in ladies’ drinks."
1984 - After previous events had honoured the likes of Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, George Burns, Redd Foxx, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Gleason, Bette Davis, and Bob Hope, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast finally gets to Mr. T. I pity the fool!
1994 - The sitcom Murphy Brown featured a running gag in which Candice Bergen's titular character burned through a ton of horrible secretaries, often played by celebrity guest stars. Bette Midler, Michael Richards, Don Rickles, Sally Field, Rosie O’Donnell and even John F. Kennedy, Jr. played the part, but on this day in 1994 her new secretary (her 66th!) is a woman named Carol who is a perfect fit for the job. That is until her old boss Dr. Robert Hartley enters the picture to convince Carol to come back to work for him in Chicago. These were of course Bob Newhart and Marcia Wallace's Bob Newhart Show characters, reprised for only the second time since the show went off the air 16 years prior.
2011 - Similar in tone to the Australian series The Games, the behind-the-scenes mockumentary of the organizing committee behind the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, Twenty Twelve debuts on BBC Four.
2012 - Just before a performance in Lewisville, Texas, Gallagher suffered a heart attack, four days after the one year anniversary of his last heart attack. He was taken to hospital and placed in a medically induced coma, but recovered within days.
Born On March 14
1862 - An early film star who would perform alongside many of the greats including Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Oliver Hardy, as well as in numerous Mack Sennett productions, Eva Thatcher is born in Omaha, Nebraska.
1933 - An Oscar winner for Hannah and Her Sisters, but also known for Alfie, Educating Rita, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Miss Congeniality, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, actor (and Steve Coogan/Rob Bryden favourite impression) Michael Caine is born in Rotherhithe, London, England.
1945 - A Lifetime Achievement recipient from The British Comedy Awards known for The Detectives as well as a variety of shows that include his name, stand-up, comic actor, and television host Jasper Carrott is born in Acocks Green, Birmingham, England.
1948 - Actor, comic, and 9-time Academy Awards host, Billy Crystal is born in New York City.
1955 - One of the stars of BBC Radio’s Radio Active and its BBC TV equivalent KYTV, as well as Mrs. Miggins on the third series of the BBC’s Blackadder, Helen Atkinson-Wood is born in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, England.
1961 - Best known as Larry’s assistant Beverly Barnes on The Larry Sanders Show, Penny Johnson Jerald is born in Baltimore, Maryland.
1979 - Movie and TV actor best known for his portrayal of Chris “Oz” Ostreicher in the American Pie film series, Chris Klein is born in Hinsdale, Illinois.