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This Day in Comedy History

October 8 - October 14

October 8

October 8

1879 - Canadian actor of the silent and early “talkie” film eras Huntley Gordon is born in Montreal, Quebec. His film credits include The Common Cause (1919), Why Announce Your Marriage? (1922), Bluebeard’s 8th Wife (1923), Don't Tell the Wife (1927), A Certain Young Man (1928) and She Had to Choose (1934).

1927 - While they had appeared in the same films before, this was the first time they had appeared as a team. The first official Laurel and Hardy film, The Second Hundred Years is released.

1939 - Australian actor who shot to fame with the release of his film Crocodile Dundee, and then stayed there with its sequels, Paul Hogan is born in Sydney.

1943 - Legendary comedian of Saturday Night Live and National Lampoon’s fame Chevy Chase is born Cornelius Crane Chase in Manhattan, NYC.

1944 - On the Nelsons’ real-life ninth wedding anniversary, Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet debuts on CBS radio.

1953 - 43 years before American TV audiences declared Everybody Loves Raymond they were simply asking Where’s Raymond? The Desilu-produced ABC sitcom starred Ray Bolger, with its title inspired by his hit Broadway musical Where’s Charley? In 1954, the show was retitled The Ray Bolger Show for its second, and final, season.

1955 - Longtime Saturday Night Live cast member (1995-2009) who appeared in more episodes than anyone else, impersonated more than 100 celebrities, and has served as SNL’s announcer since 2014, Darrell Hammond is born in Melbourne, Florida.

1960 - French-Canadian comedian François Pérusse, famous for his absurdist humour and pun-filled radio sketches, particularly his short-form series Les 2 minutes du peuple (The Peoples' 2 Minutes) on Quebec radio, is born in Quebec City.

1965 - Irish comedian and actor Ardal O'Hanlon, who played Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted (1995–1998) and George Sunday/Thermoman in My Hero (2000–2006), is born in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland.

1988 - The sitcom Empty Nest, a spinoff of The Golden Girls starring Richard Mulligan, premieres on NBC.

1993 - Ted Danson experienced negative press attention after his appearance wearing blackface at a Friars Club comedy roast in honor of Whoopi Goldberg. Later, Goldberg defended the sketch, explaining that she had helped write much of the material and referred Danson to the makeup artist who painted his face as a societal critique.

1999 - Another SNL character gets their own movie, as Superstar premieres in theatres.

2003 - The star of Junior, Twins and Kindergarten Cop, Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected Governor of California.

2009 - In an interview with The A.V. Club, Richard Dreyfuss confirms that he and Bill Murray had a troubled relationship on the set of What About Bob?, saying: “Funny movie. Terribly unpleasant experience. We didn't get along, me and Bill Murray. But I've got to give it to him: I don't like him, but he makes me laugh even now.” Dreyfuss has also claimed that Murray yelled and threw an ashtray at him.

October 9

October 9

1953 - The fantasy TV sitcom Topper premieres on CBS, starring Leo G. Carroll as “the host to ghosts”.

1976 - Comedian Nick Swardson, who had his own sketch series Nick Swardson's Pretend Time and is known as a cast member in various Adam Sandler movies as well as the TV show Reno 911!, is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

1977 - The Spanish-language version of the sex comedy musical Oh! Calcutta! premieres at Teatro Príncipe in Madrid, Spain, directed and translated by Juan Jose Alonso Millan.

1977 - The CBS sitcom On Our Own premieres, starring Lynnie Greene and Bess Armstrong as two roommates who work at an advertising agency in New York City, co-starring Gretchen Wyler as their boss, and Dixie Carter and Phil Goldstein as their coworkers. It would last for one season of 22 episodes.

1979 - Irish actor and comic known for Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd, Pirate Radio, This Is 40 and Mascots, Chris O’Dowd is born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland.

1985 - Legendary actor and filmmaker Orson Welles passes away, at the age of 70.

1986 - The new Fox Broadcasting Network debuts at 11 PM EST with The Late Show starring Joan Rivers. First night guests include David Lee Roth, Pee Wee Herman, Cher, and Elton John.

1993 - Tim Burton’s classic “double holiday” film The Nightmare Before Christmas premieres at the New York Film Festival.

2006 - The third official foreign adaptation of the Ricky Gervais/ Stephen Merchant series, Quebec’s version of The Office “La Job” debuts on Bell Satellite TV.

2009 - In celebration of the National Comedy Theatre of San Diego’s 10th anniversary, the San Diego City Council declared October 9, 2009 "National Comedy Theatre Day" in their honour.

2009 - Four couples go to a tropical retreat to work on their marriages, some more than the others. Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love and Malin Akerman star in Couples Retreat which opened on this date.

2014 - Comic and actress from Saturday Night Live, Designing Women and 3rd Rock from the Sun, Jan Hooks dies of throat cancer at the age of 57 in her home in Woodstock, NY. 

2016 - Two weeks after its online premiere, the Issa Rae/Larry Wilmore series Insecure debuts on HBO. The next year it would be honored with a Peabody Award.

October 10

October 10

1941 - After huge successes in his last four movies, W.C. Fields fights for, and gets much more creative control for his next film Never Give A Sucker An Even Break. With his own script (written under the pseudonym Otis Criblecoblis), staging and talent choices, Fields plays himself in the film, shopping a surreal script to movie companies. The movie opened to less-than-stellar reviews and similar box office, and always having been a problem for the studio, Universal dropped him. It would be his last starring role.

1954 - The sitcom Honestly, Celeste! premieres on CBS. Starring Celeste Holm as journalism professor turned NYC reporter Celeste Anders. Despite much publicity, and a writing staff including Norman Lear and Larry Gelbart, the show suffered in the ratings and was canceled after just 8 episodes. FUN FACT: Holm would once again play a journalist in a sitcom once again in the also short-lived 1970 series Nancy on NBC.

1959 - Julia Sweeney, best known for starring in Hulu’s Shrill and Showtime’s Work in Progress, but mostly as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (where her androgynous character Pat was popular enough to get his/her own movie), is born in Spokane, Washington.

1960 - Bringing Up Buddy premieres on CBS. In the sitcom, Frank Aletter plays an orphaned stockbroker who is reared by his two overprotective aunts.

1961 - The Bob Newhart Show (not the 1970s sitcom, the 1960s variety show) premieres on NBC. The show only lasted one season, but won a Peabody Award and the Emmy Award as the best comedy series, where it was also nominated for writing but lost to Carl Reiner for The Dick Van Dyke Show.

1974 - Comedy legends Lily Tomlin and Richard Pryor share the cover of Rolling Stone, which also features Hunter S. Thompson’s The Scum Also Rises.

1981 - Robin Duke and Tony Rosato make their Saturday Night Live debuts.

1992 - In the Talk Show episode of The Larry Sanders Show, the turmoil surrounding Larry’s career jeopardizes his marriage.

2001 - Jon Lovitz sings a duet of “Well, Did You Evah!” at the Royal Albert Hall with Robbie Williams.

2016 - Kevin Hart gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2020 - Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 25th edition of Andy Kindler’s State of the Industry Address, traditionally taking place in a large hotel banquet room at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival, is instead performed Alive From Home!

October 11

October 11

1951 - Comedian and author Louise Rennison is born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. She’s best known for her books for young adults, and her first two novels were adapted into the film Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008).

1957 - One half of French and Saunders, and known for their series and The Vicar of Dibley, Dawn French is born in Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales.

1959 - Matty's Funday Funnies, an animated cartoon compilation show, premieres on American TVs.

1960 - Please don’t kill da wabbit! The Bugs Bunny Show premieres on ABC. It would become a mainstay of American television, eventually move to Saturday mornings, and remain on the air for 40 years.

1961 - The oldest of the Marx Brothers, Chico (born Leonard Joseph Marx), who was instrumental in developing and managing their act, dies of arteriosclerosis at age 74 in his Hollywood home.

1962 - McHale’s Navy, starring Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway, premieres on ABC. It would run for 138 episodes, over four seasons.

1962 - A cast member on SNL for one season before becoming better known for Broadcast News, School Of Rock, Working Girl, and her brother John’s films Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity, Joan Cusack is born in New York City.

1967 - Comedian Artie Lange of MADtv and Howard Stern Show fame is born in Livingston, New Jersey.

1968 - Best known for her role as Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock, but also from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Ally McBeal (lest we forget her memorable youthful performance in National Lampoon’s Vacation), actress Jane Krakowski is born in Parsippany, New Jersey. 

1968 - Hosts of the groundbreaking series Laugh-In, Rowan & Martin sock their way onto the cover of Time magazine.

1975 - Lorne Michaels’ SNL premieres on NBC, under its original title, NBC’s Saturday Night, with producer Lorne Michaels, Dan Aykroyd, writer Rosie Shuster, and a set from Valri Bromfield. Plus an appearance by Andy Kaufman, who Michaels invited to perform. Standup comedian George Carlin was its first ever host, and at his own request he did not perform in any sketches, to this date still the only host not to appear in them.

1977 - Rhett McLaughlin of the comedy team Rhett and Link is born in Macon, Georgia. The duo are best known for their YouTube series Good Mythical Morning.

1979 - Howie Mandel is booed off the stage opening for Earth, Wind, and Fire, whose management makes an announcement to the crowd apologizing for the previous act.

1981 - Andy Kaufman defends his World Intergender Wrestling Championship at Playboy's Atlantic City Hotel and Casino against Playboy Playmate Susan Smith (Miss September). He wins the match and when finding out the proceeds are being donated to charity, Kaufman replies, "Charity? Nobody said anything about charity. I want my money. I earned it. If you want charity, go get Jerry Lewis!"

1986 - Brantford’s Phil Hartman debuts on Saturday Night Live. The show also marks the debut of writers Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney, and the first appearance of Dana Carvey’s "The Church Lady".

1991 - Redd Foxx dies after suffering a heart attack while shooting a scene for his new TV series at Paramount Studios in LA, at age 68.

1993 - Canadian news satire show This Hour Has 22 Minutes makes its debut on the CBC. Created by Mary Walsh, and starring Walsh, Cathy Jones, Greg Thomey and Rick Mercer, the show produced in Halifax, Nova Scotia by Salter Street Films would go on to be one of the most celebrated and longest running shows (it’s still on!) on Canadian TV.

1995 - Howie Mandel’s Sunny Skies debuts.

2002 - Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian is released.

2003 - Saturday Night Live features the premiere episode of The Barry Gibb Talk Show, with Jimmy Fallon playing the Bee Gees’ lead singer, and host/musical guest Justin Timberlake as his brother Robin.

2004 - While the American, French, Israeli and Quebec versions were all presented as adaptations of the British original series, and credited Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant as creators, a German knockoff of The Office, “Stromberg” premieres on ProSieben. 

2006 - Initially believed that it would be buried by Aaron Sorkin’s new show with a similar premise (Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, another show about the backstage happenings at a Saturday Night Live-type show), Tina Fey’s series 30 Rock premieres on NBC. It would go on to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in its first year.

2016 - Evolving from the play of the same name that depicts the lives of the Korean-Canadian Kim family and the store their lives revolve around, the sitcom Kim’s Convenience debuts on the CBC.

2019 - The horror comedy sequel Zombieland: Double Tap is released.

October 12

October 12

1932 - Influential comic and activist Dick Gregory is born in St. Louis, Missouri.

1949 - The final Marx Brothers movie Love Happy opens. While it is a last for them, it marks one of the first film appearances for a young actress named Marilyn Monroe.

1950 - The Burns & Allen Show premieres on CBS and runs until 1958.

1950 - Actor and singer Susan Anton, whose film credits include Spring Fever (1982), Cannonball Run II (1984), Making Mr. Right (1987) and Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016), is born in Oak Glen, CA.

1960 - The sitcom Peter Loves Mary debuts.

1961 - The ABC sitcom Margie premieres, starring Cynthia Pepper.

1967 - The legendary Hungry i nightclub closes its location in the International Hotel, moving to Ghiradelli Square, where it would focus on music. During its 14-year run at the Jackson St. location it was instrumental in helping develop the careers of a generation of stand-ups including Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Jonathan Winters, Professor Irwin Corey, Dick Cavett, and more, and was the site of many album recordings.

1968 - Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy winner, and Academy Award nominee, who has starred in such comedies as Kate & Leopold (2001), Flushed Away (2006), Butter (2011), Movie 43 (2013), Bad Education (2019) and Missing Link (2019), Hugh Jackman is born in Sydney, Australia.

1968 - Adam Rich is born. As a child actor, best known for starring as youngest son Nicholas on the ABC sitcom Eight Is Enough, he became famous for his oft-emulated pageboy haircut and became known as “America’s little brother.”

1970 - Kirk Cameron is born in Panorama City, Los Angeles, CA. He’s best known for starring as Mike Seaver in ABC’s hit sitcom Growing Pains (1985-1992), and for starring in his own WB sitcom Kirk (1995-1997). Film credits include The Best of Times (1986), Like Father Like Son (1987), The Willies (1990), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1995), You Lucky Dog (1998), The Growing Pains Movie (2000) and Saving Christmas (2014).

1972 - Before they got good at photography or design, Rolling Stone magazine features the first ever person connected to comedy, All In The Family’s Sally Struthers on the cover.

1974 - Star of the Mary Tyler Moore spinoff Rhoda, Valerie Harper debates the point on the cover of TV Guide.

1986 - In Los Angeles, Marcus T. Paulk is born. As an actor, he’s best known for playing Myles Mitchell in UPN’s sitcom Moesha (1996-2001). His film credits include Roll Bounce (2005), Another Cinderella Story (2008) and Nothing to Lose (1997).

1986 - In Los Angeles, Marcus T. Paulk is born. As an actor, he’s best known for playing Myles Mitchell in UPN’s sitcom Moesha (1996-2001). His film credits include Roll Bounce (2005), Another Cinderella Story (2008) and Nothing to Lose (1997).

1990 - The Lucas Reiner 1970s spoof The Spirit of ‘76 opens in cinemas.

1992 - Actor Josh Hutcherson - known for Little Manhattan (2005), RV (2006) and The Kids Are All Right (2010) and Detention (2011) as well as Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) and its sequel Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) - is born in Union, Kentucky.

2004 - With regular host and Logie Hall of Famer Bert Newton away due to illness, his show Good Morning Australia is hosted by comedian and fellow TV host Rove McManus.

2007 - The drunk driver who crossed the median and killed director Bob Clark (A Christmas Story, Porky’s, Tribute) and his son is sentenced to six years in prison after changing his not guilty plea to a plea of no contest.

2020 - Iliza Shlesinger’s new Covid touring model gets her on the cover of Pollstar magazine.

October 13

October 13

1925 - Legendary future shaper of modern stand-up comedy Lenny Bruce is born Leonard Alfred Schneider in Mineola, New York.

1939 - She started out as an improv comedian before getting two Academy Award nominations and a Tony nod for originating the role of Honey in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Her movie credits include Harry and the Hendersons (1987), The April Fools (1969), Slap Shot (1977), Staying Together (1989), To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), Adam & Steve (2005) and, most famously, starring as the leg lamp-breaking, dirty mouth washing, “little piggy” feeding Mrs. Parker in the classic holiday comedy A Christmas Story (1983).

1942 - Stage and screen actor Pamela Tiffin is born in Oklahoma City. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her supporting role in Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three (1961). Other notable comedy credits include The Hallelujah Trail (1965), The Pleasure Seekers (1964), Come Fly with Me (1963), Torture Me But Kill Me with Kisses (1968), Viva Max (1969), For Those Who Think Young (1964) and The Archangel (1969).

1946 - TV, film and Broadway actor Demond Wilson, best known for co-starring as Redd Foxx’s son Lamont in the hit sitcom Sanford & Son (1972-1977), is born in Valdosta, Georgia. He also co-starred with Ron Glass in ABC’s sitcom The New Odd Couple (1982-1983), and in his own sitcom, Baby, I’m Back (1978).

1952 - John Lone (Rush Hour 2) is born Ng Kwok-leung in Hong Kong.

1959 - Marie Osmond is born in Ogden, Utah. She’s best known for co-hosting the ABC variety show Donny & Marie (1976-1979) with her brother Donny Osmond.

1961 - Funnyman Jonathan Winters takes a rare dramatic turn in The Twilight Zone episode A Game of Pool.

1962 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh is born Crystal Walker in Chicago. The actor is best known for her sitcom roles, playing Tanya Baxter in Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven (2003-05) and Erica Lucas in Cobsy (1996-2000) on CBS. She was also an original cast member on Fox’s sketch comedy series In Living Color (1990–1994).

1964 - Another Chicago birth on this day, as founding member of The Upright Citizens Brigade, comedian and actor Matt Walsh is born in the windy city. He was twice nominated for Emmy Awards for playing Mike McLintock in the HBO series Veep, and was also a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Film credits include Ghostbusters (2016), Life of the Party (2018), Ted (2012), Brigsby Bear (2017), and Old School (2003).

1964 - Bobby “Boris” Pickett performs his hit novelty song “Monster Mash” on American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark.

1965 - In Galveston, Texas, comedian-actor Reginald Ballard is born. He’s best known for his appearances on FOX sitcoms, playing Bruh-Man in Martin and W.B. in The Bernie Mac Show.

1967 - Actor Kate Walsh is born in San Jose, CA. She starred in the NBC sitcom Bad Judge (2014-2015).

1968 - Actor and comedian best known for her sitcom work, playing Martin Lawrence’s girlfriend Gina in FOX’s Martin (1992-1997), Jay in ABC’s My Wife and Kids (2001-2005), and Marva in NBC’s musical comedy Rags to Riches (1987–1988), Tisha Campbell is born in Oklahoma City. On the big screen, she played Sydney in the first three House Party films (1990-1994). Her other film roles include her debut in the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors (1986), as well as School Daze (1988), Another 48 Hrs. (1990), Boomerang (1992), and Sprung (1997). 

1971 - Comedian and actor Sacha Baron Cohen (Da Ali G Show, Borat, Bruno, Talladega Nights, The Dictator) is born in Hammersmith, London, England.

1977 - Kiele Sanchez, who starred as Anne Sorelli in the WB series Related (2005-2006), is born in Chicago.

1998 - Bill Engvall’s second album Dorkfish is released by Warner Bros. Records.

2000 - Tim Meadows takes his SNL character to the big screen with the film The Ladies Man.

2006 - Man of the Year, starring Robin Williams and Lewis Black, premieres.

2007 - The film Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project is released.

2016 - The fifth in the series of Christopher Guest mockumentaries, with previous cast members Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, Parker Posey, Don Lake, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley, Jr. and Michael Hitchcock returning, Mascots debuts on Netflix.

2020 - After more than 50 years in its 1118 1st Avenue location in the heart of Manhattan, Dangerfield’s Comedy Club announced its closing, effective immediately. The club, opened by Rodney Dangerfield in 1969, and a place to catch such acts as Sam Kinison, Andy Kaufman, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosanne Barr, Jim Carrey, and the owner himself over the years, was forced to make the move as a result of Covid-19 restrictions which had “placed a severe financial burden on Dangerfield’s making operations in New York untenable”.

October 14

October 14

1953 - Actor Greg Evigan, who starred in two comedy television series, B.J. and the Bear (1979-1981) and My Two Dads (1987–1990), is born in South Amboy, NJ.

1955 - Actor, writer and comedian best known for being the original female co-host on America's Funniest People (1990-1992), Arleen Sorkin is born in Washington, DC.

1959 - The legal sitcom Harrigan & Son, about father-and-son lawyers and their two secretaries, premieres on ABC.

1961 - How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying makes its Broadway debut at the 46th Street Theatre. Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee star.

1963 - Lori Petty is born in Chattanooga, TN. Her most notable comedy roles are playing Kit Keller in A League of Their Own (1992), the titular role of Tank Girl (1995), and for playing Lolly in the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black.

1965 - Actor and comedian from Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge, The Trip (and its sequels), Night At The Museum (and its sequels), 24 Hour Party People, Tropic Thunder, The Parole Officer, The Other Guys and Stan & Ollie, Steve Coogan is born in Middleton, Lancashire, England.

1977 - American singer and actor known for his Road To… series of films with Bob Hope (1940-1962), Bing Crosby collapses after finishing 18 holes of golf at the La Moraleja Golf Course near Madrid, Spain, and succumbs to a massive heart attack at the age of 74.

1984 - Defeating John Kassir, the defending stand-up champion on Star Search who had just rolled off a five week win streak, Rosie O’Donnell begins a five week winning streak of her own.

1986 - Skyler Shaye is born in Los Angeles. She played Kylie in Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004), and Cloe in Bratz: The Movie (2007).

1987 - Saturday Night Live cast member, comedian and impressionist Jay Pharoah is born Jared Farrow in Chesapeake, Virginia.

1995 - Mad TV makes its debut on FOX.

2004 - While its premiere happened three days earlier in Hollywood because, after all, it’s a business, a day before everyone else gets to see it, Colorado guys Trey Parker and Matt Stone show their new marionette terror satire Team America: World Police at the Denver Starz International Film Festival.

2007 - Bob Martin makes his last appearance as the Drowsy Chaperone’s “Man in Chair” at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.

2010 - 30 Rock do a live show, first broadcasting live to the East and then doing the whole show again live for the West, with guests Matt Damon, Rachel Dratch, Bill Hader, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jon Hamm. The East show also had a cameo from Paul McCartney, while on the West version it was Kim Kardashian.

2019 - Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) gets their prints in the concrete at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

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