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This Day in Comedy History

September 8 - 14

September 8

September 8

1897 - Miskel Spillman is born. Spillman, an 80 year old German immigrant in New Orleans, made history by becoming Saturday Night Live’s first - and still only - non-celebrity host, after she won the show’s "Anyone Can Host" contest. Spillman was paid $3,000 to host the third season’s Christmas episode, and held the record as SNL’s oldest host until an 88 year old Betty White hosted on May 8, 2010. Spillman’s episode also featured Elvis Costello’s famous “Radio Radio” song change, which got him banned from the show for 12 years.

1921 - Actor who, along with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, is best known for The Goon Show on BBC Radio - Harry Secombe is born in Swansea, Wales. FUN FACT: Sellers was born four years later to the day, in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

1922 - Sid Caesar, comedy legend of Your Show of Shows fame, is born in Yonkers, New York.

1925 - One of the greatest comedic actors of the 20th century, Peter Sellers is born in Southsea, Portsmouth. Of his many, many credits, he’s best remembered as one of The Goons, and for starring in Dr. Strangelove and as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther film series.

1940 - Ventriloquist who got his big career push from regular appearances on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In, and became a favourite on talk shows with scores of Carson, Griffin, Frost, and Mike Douglas Show spots, Willie Tyler is born in Red Level, Alabama. No word on when his famous puppet Lester was born.

1952 - The first day of English television broadcasting by the CBC. One of the day’s performers is Don Harron, who follows a bald puppet named Uncle Chichmus.

1952 - Bassist Will Lee of the Late Show with David Letterman’s CBS Orchestra is born in San Antonio, Texas.

1957 - Star of The Fall Guy, the sitcom Co-Ed Fever and the movie Zapped! Heather Thomas is born in Greenwich, Connecticut.

1962 - One of the greatest novelty songs ever recorded, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash” debuts on the charts. We’re guessing it peaked sometime around Halloween.

1966 – That Girl premieres on ABC. The sitcom stars Marlo Thomas as an aspiring actress who moves to New York City, and runs through 1971.

1971 - Actor David Arquette is born in Winchester, Virginia. Comedy credits include the films Never Been Kissed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, See Spot Run, Eight Legged Freaks, Ready to Rumble, Airheads and 3000 Miles to Graceland.

1971 - Tim Canterbury on the British mockumentary The Office as well as the shows Fargo and Breeders, and the films Love Actually, Ali G Indahouse, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, actor Martin Freeman is born in Aldershot, Hampshire, England.

1976 - Sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin premieres on BBC.

1977 - Actor Zero Mostel dies, aged 62. Best known for the films The Producers, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, The Great Bank Robbery and of course The Front - which was about the McCarthy era anti-communist hearings and blacklists of the 1950’s. (In real life, Mostel was blacklisted in 1950.)

1977 - Actor and comedian Nathan Corddry, best known for playing Adam on Harry's Law and Gabriel in Mom, is born in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

1981 - Regularly voted as one of the top, if not THE top, British comedy ever, Only Fools and Horses debuts on BBC One.

1981 - Tim Allen’s son Randy on Home Improvement, Jonathan Taylor Thomas is born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

1991 - Gene Wilder marries Karen Webb, a hearing specialist he met on the set of the movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Also, if you haven’t seen that movie, GO SEE THAT MOVIE IT IS SO UNDERRATED!

1992 - Mary Tyler Moore gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1995 - Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo portray three New York drag queens on a road trip. To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar opens in theatres.

2000 - The black comedy about a woman who suffers a breakdown following her husband’s murder, and begins to obsessively pursue a soap opera star, the Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Chris Rock film Nurse Betty opens in wide release.

2002 - CBC broadcasts An All-Star Comedy Homecoming, marking the 50th anniversary of the network’s first ever broadcast. Performers include the casts of Air Farce, Kids In The Hall and 22 Minutes, Dave Broadfoot, Don Harron (who was on the first broadcast), Steve Smith, David Steinberg, Brent Butt, Jeremy Hotz, Kenny Robinson, Mike Bullard and more.

2002 - Two middle-aged women who used to be groupies back in their youth, Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon star in The Banger Sisters, which premiered on this date at the Deauville Festival of American Cinema.

2002 - Host of the Netflix show Prank Encounters, Gaten Matarazzo is born in Connecticut.

2007 - Directed by Jason Reitman, starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera, and shot in and around Vancouver, the film Juno premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival.

2007 - “Weird Al” Yankovic performed his 1,000th live show, at Idaho Falls, Idaho. We are still trying to ascertain whether Idaho Falls has hosted 1,000 live shows yet...

2012 - A man carrying a pair of scissors throws himself against the wall of singer and actress Miley Cyrus’ Los Angeles home in a bizarre attempt to break in. Jason Luis Rivera is arrested and later convicted of trespassing on the Hannah Montana star’s property. I guess even well thought out plans sometimes fail.

2014 - Mel Brooks is enshrined in the concrete at the TCL Chinese Theatre and, going for a laugh like always, unbeknownst to all he wears a prosthetic extra finger so when his prints are cast there are 6 digits on the left hand. We salute you, Mr. Brooks!

2015 - Filling the host slot left when David Letterman stepped down, Stephen Colbert makes his debut behind The Late Show’s desk on CBS.

2016 - Pamela Aldon plays a divorced actress with three daughters on the series Better Things, debuting on FX.

2017 - It's a big day for Spanish language comedy as Chilean Fabrizio Copano becomes the first South American comic to have a Netflix special. His Solo Pienso En Mi debuts, as well as Uno Y No Mas by Spain’s Joaquin Reyes.

2020 - Austin’s Cap City Comedy club’s owners announce that after 35 years the club will be closing, largely due to the COVID pandemic... luckily they would soon announce that they'd reopen in fall, 2021!

September 9

September 9

September 10

September 10

September 11

September 11

September 12

September 12

1981 - Her comedy roles include Sex and the City (2008) and Sing (2016), Oscar and Golden Globe winner Jennifer Hudson is born in Chicago.

1981 - It’s the first of his two-day shift filling in for his old KEWB radio partner Casey Kasem, as Gary Owens, best known as the droll announcer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In, takes over the host’s seat on American Top 40. The weekend stint would mark Owens’ only appearances on Kasem’s show.

1983 - The Don Harron Show debuts on CTV, taking the place of The Alan Thicke Show. Opening show guests are Lorne Greene, Robert Culp, Barbara Woodhouse, and Steven Wright.

1986 - The pilot episode of Taking It Home premieres on NBC, starring Scott Valentine as Nick Moore - his popular character (Mallory’s not-so-bright boyfriend) from the hit sitcom Family Ties, and Herschel Bernardi as his grandfather, who he returns to live with in Detroit. It was the first of three spinoff pilots the network would produce for Valentine’s character, but the network canceled the series before the pilot even aired because Bernardi sadly passed four months earlier.

1986 - Golden Globe nominee Emmy Rossum, best known for her portrayal of Fiona Gallagher in the television series Shameless (US), is born in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York City.

1986 - Actor from such films as How to Build a Girl (2019), Jojo Rabbit (2019) and Plastic (2014), Alfie Allen is born in Hammersmith, London, England.

1990 - Airing on the CBC in Canada, and on A&E in the U.S., the final episode of Yuk Yuk’s - The TV Show airs. Acts included Richard Belzer, Robert Cait and Lawrence Morgenstern.

1996 - In Nashville, Tennessee, TV (Daybreak) and movie (We Bought a Zoo) actor Colin Ford is born.

2006 - Stand-up comedian Greg Behrendt’s self-titled daytime self-help talk show, The Greg Behrendt Show, premieres. It would come to an end the following February.

2009 - Canada’s Walk of Fame inductees include Howie Mandel and Kim Cattrall.

2010 - Initially a six-part TV Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon series for the BBC where the duo drive around Northern England touring restaurants, then re-edited into a film, The Trip premieres at The Toronto International Film Festival.

2011 - Comedian and actor T.J. Miller releases his comedy rap concept album, The Extended Play E.P., featuring fellow comedians Bo Burnham, Doug Benson and Pete Holmes.

2014 - Nigerian comedian and musician Innocent Udeme Ofodot (better known as MC Galaxy) is allegedly assaulted by a show promoter in Washington DC.

2014 - At the Latitude 360 in Jacksonville, Florida, emcee Roz McCoy dropped her phone halfway through her opening set, then lost her balance and took a spectacular tumble off the stage when she bent down to pick it up. Like any comic worth their salt however, she made it work for her, winning a laugh by saying from the floor: “... We’re just gonna do the show from right here.”

2014 - Before We Go, a romantic dramedy starring Alice Eve and Chris Evans (who also directs and co-produces), premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival.

2015 - The ABBA musical Mamma Mia! ends its run on Broadway after 14 years and 5,773 performances, making it the longest-running "jukebox musical" in Broadway’s history, and its 9th longest-running show of any kind.

2019 - Judith Light gets her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She’s best known for starring in the hit 1980s sitcom Who’s the Boss?, and also had roles in TransParent, Ugly Betty and The Politician. She’s also the winner of two consecutive Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

September 13

September 13

1903 - One of classic Hollywood’s greatest stars, actress Claudette Colbert is born in Saint-Mandé, France. She won an Oscar for her performance in It Happened One Night.

1931 - Her resume includes roles in films such as The Spirit of '76 (1990), On the Rocks (2020) and Silver Skies (2015). Barbara Bain is born in Chicago.

1936 - Before he was Nat, the owner of Beverly Hills 90210’s Peach Pit, he was Private Neddick in No Time for Sergeants (1964-1965). Joe E. Tata is born in Connecticut.

1944 - In Weybridge, Surrey, England, Jacqueline Bisset is born. She starred in Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978), for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. Other comedy roles include Casino Royale (1967), Class (1983), Two for the Road (1967), The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973) and Stand Up and Be Counted (1972).

1948 - Tony Award winning Broadway actress who would find greater success in the role of Nell Harper on the sitcom Gimme a Break! and as P.J. Moore on Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, Nell Carter is born in Birmingham, Alabama.

1951 - Actress best known for her role as Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the CBS series Designing Women, who would later win two Emmy Awards for her recurring role on NBC’s Frasier, and then another one for starring in the ABC sitcom Samantha Who?, screen and stage actor Jean Smart is born in Seattle, Washington.

1952 - Stage and screen actor best known for her work in the comedy TV series The Crew, Nikki and Desperate Housewives, Christine Estabrook is born.

1953 - One of the first “ethnic sitcoms”, Bonino, premieres on NBC TV. The show stars Ezio Pinza as a widowed Italian-American opera singer raising his eight children alone.

1954 - In South Bend, Indiana, actor Isiah Whitlock Jr. is born. Movie credits include Pieces of April, Enchanted, Cedar Rapids, Cars 3, The Old Man and the Gun and I Care a Lot.

1956 - Geri Jewell, best known for playing Blair’s cousin Geri in the hit 1980s sitcom The Facts of Life, is born in Buffalo, NY.

1963 – The sitcom Harry's Girls premieres on NBC. The show stars Larry Blyden as the leader of a vaudeville troupe consisting of three young ladies.

1965 - Stand-up and actor best known as the “Roastmaster General” (and odd clothing choices) on the Comedy Central Roasts, Jeff Ross is born in Newark, New Jersey.

1966 – The NBC sitcom Occasional Wife premieres. It would run for one season.

1966 - Louis Mandylor is born Elias Theodosopoulos in Melbourne, Australia. He is best known for playing Nick Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016).

1969 – Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! premieres on CBS.

1969 - Actor, writer, filmmaker and philanthropist best known for his Madea films, Tyler Perry is born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

1969 - Actor best known for starring as Kevin in the comedy-drama series Nurse Jackie, Dominic Fumusa is born.

1974 - A dramatic detective series with a strong comedic underbelly, The Rockford Files starring James Garner debuts on NBC. 

1977 - The ground breaking series Soap, which was a parody of, wait for it, Soaps, debuts on ABC. Among its many firsts, it was the first show on American network television to feature an openly gay character (Billy Crystal as Jodie) in Primetime. 

1977 - Risk taking, both in the subject matter of the sketches and the acts presented, the short lived variety series The Richard Pryor Show debuted on NBC. It would be both celebrated and controversial.

1980 - The TV comedy acting dynasty of the Savage Siblings, already boasting Fred (The Wonder Years, The Grinder) and Kala (Undressed, 8 Simple Rules), adds another member as Ben Savage (Boy Meets World, Girl Meets World) is born in Chicago.

1993 - Late Night with Conan O’Brien makes its debut on NBC, after David Letterman moved to CBS.

1994 - He played Reba McEntire’s son in the sitcom Reba. Mitch Holleman is born in Auburn, Alabama.

1996 - Everybody Loves Raymond debuts, and goes on to be one of the biggest hit sitcoms of the 90s.

1996 - She played Annabelle in the black comedy Hustlers (2019). Lili Reinhart is born in Cleveland, Ohio.

2002 - The comedy-drama Igby Goes Down is released. The story of a misanthropic teenager trying to break free from his overbearing, wealthy mother stars Kieran Culkin and Susan Sarandon, who would both receive Golden Globe nominations for their performances, as well as Bill Pullman, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Amanda Peet, Ryan Philippe and Jared Harris.

2003 - The first of what would turn out to be a series of films about the community intersection that takes place on the south side Chicago, starring Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve and Cedric the Entertainer, Barbershop open in theatres. 

2003 - The first of what would turn out to be a series of films about the community intersection that takes place on the south side Chicago, starring Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve and Cedric the Entertainer, Barbershop open in theatres. 

2006 - Artie Lange’s Beer League premieres at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan, NYC.

2009 - The annual Broadway on Broadway event is hosted by Michael McKean, featuring performances from various Broadway musicals.

2009 - Michael Dowse’s philanthropy satire starring comedian Mike Wilmot, The Foundation debuts.

2013 - Steve Smith (aka Red Green) starts a one-man show called How to do Everything (From the Man who Should Know).

2019 - Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman is sentenced to 14 days in prison and a $30,000 fine for her role in a college admissions scandal. Huffman had pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud for paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her daughter’s SAT exam answers in 2017.

September 14

September 14

1944 - Joey Heatherton is born in Rockville Centre, NY. A sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s, she starred in The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977) and was a frequent guest on TV variety shows and Bob Hope’s USO tours.

1947 - New Zealand acting great Sam Neill is born in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Though best known for dramatic roles, he has also starred in such comedy movies as Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), Sirens (1994), Wimbledon (2004), Bicentennial Man (1999), Rams (2020), Death in Brunswick (1990), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and The Dish (2000).

1953 - Robert Wisdom is born in Washington, DC. The actor’s credits include Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004), Three Businessmen (1998), Clean Slate (1994), Storytelling (2001), That Thing You Do! (1996), Osmosis Jones (2001), Duplex (2003), Crazy like a Fox (2004), Mozart and the Whale (2005) and Sex and Death 101 (2007).

1954 - One year into their comedy partnership, the duo of Stiller and Meara decide to take it one step further. Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara are wed on this date - a marriage that would last 61 years, until Anne Meara’s passing.

1960 - Winner of an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and two Emmys - one for her guest role on the series Louie - Melissa Leo is born in Manhattan, New York City.

1960 - Roger Corman’s horror-comedy The Little Shop of Horrors opens, featuring a young Jack Nicholson as a masochistic patient in a dentist’s chair.

1964  – Sitcom The Bing Crosby Show premieres on TV. Also premiering that night, on ABC: Wendy and Me, starring George Burns and Connie Stevens. It was Burns’ first major work since his wife and long-term comedy partner Gracie Allen had passed away.

1964 - Corky Sherwood on the CBS sitcom Murphy Brown, and Hope Shanowski on ABC’s Hope and Faith, actress Faith Ford is born in Alexandria, Louisiana.

1965  – The satirical western series F Troop premieres on ABC, and ran for two seasons.

1965 - NBC TV premieres what many consider to be one of the worst and stupidest sitcoms ever produced: My Mother the Car. Jerry Van Dyke starred as a man whose mother dies then comes back as his antique car and talks to him through its radio. Nuff said. In 2002, TV Guide named it the 2nd worst TV series of any kind EVER produced, behind only The Jerry Springer Show. Ouch! Want even more ouch? Van Dyke reportedly turned down the title role in Gilligan and the chance to replace Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show to do this series.

1965 - NBC TV premieres what many consider to be one of the worst and stupidest sitcoms ever produced: My Mother the Car. Jerry Van Dyke starred as a man whose mother dies then comes back as his antique car and talks to him through its radio. Nuff said. In 2002, TV Guide named it the 2nd worst TV series of any kind EVER produced, behind only The Jerry Springer Show. Ouch! Want even more ouch? Van Dyke reportedly turned down the title role in Gilligan and the chance to replace Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show to do this series.

1965 – Please Don't Eat the Daisies premieres on NBC. The sitcom was based on the 1960 Doris Day/David Niven feature film.

1967 - Dan Cortese is born in Sewickley, PA. He’s best known for his sitcom roles, as Perry Rollins on Veronica's Closet and Vic Meladeo on What I Like About You.

1968 – Animated musical sitcom The Archie Show, based on the beloved Archie comics series, premieres on CBS.

1970 - Known for his MTV sketch comedy show (with Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney-Silver) The State, and for playing Deputy Travis Jr. on Reno 911!, comedian, writer and actor Robert Garant is born in Cookeville, Tennessee.

1971 - Kimberly Williams-Paisley is born in Rye, New York. She’s best known for starring in the films Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride Part II (1995), and the sitcom According to Jim.

1973 - Before he became a zombie-killing machine in The Walking Dead, he played Simon Casey in the Channel 4 sitcom Teachers (2001–2003) and Mark in the movie Love Actually (2003). Andrew Lincoln is born in London, England.

1976 - Actor from My Sassy Girl (2008), The Other End of the Line (2008), American Zombie (2007), Porn 'n Chicken (2002), Dorian Blues (2004) and Boxboarders! (2007), Austin Basis is born in Brooklyn, New York City.

1978 - Happy Days spinoff Mork & Mindy premieres on US television, quickly making Robin Williams a star.

1980 - “Weird Al” Yankovic was scheduled to record a new parody song live on The Dr. Demento Show. The song was "Another One Rides the Bus", a parody of Queen's hit "Another One Bites the Dust". While practicing the song outside the sound booth, he met drummer Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, who agreed to bang on Yankovic's accordion case to help him keep a steady beat during the song. They rehearsed the song just a few times before the show began, in what was the beginning of a beautiful music parody relationship.

1984 - "Gordo" in the Disney Channel sitcom Lizzie McGuire as well as The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Adam Lamberg is born in New York City.

1985 - The Golden Girls makes its debut on NBC, and quickly becomes a hit. Its stars Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty would each go on to win Emmy Awards for their respective roles, with the show twice picking up Outstanding Comedy Series trophies.

1987 - Charlotte in Harlots (2017–2019) and Emilia Conan Doyle in the movie Albatross (2011), Jessica Brown Findlay is born.

1989 - He played Logan in Nickelodeon’s musical comedy series Big Time Rush. Logan Henderson is born in Temple, Texas.

1991 - Jay Leno was slightly injured when his motorcycle is hit by another biker. Surprisingly the other biker is not David Letterman.

1998 - A series about a Manchester family whose lives revolve around the television, The Royle Family debuts on BBC Two.

1999 - Emma Kenney, who plays Debbie Gallagher in Shameless (US) and Harris Conner-Healy in Roseanne and its sequel series The Conners, is born in New York City.

2002 - Fire dancer, raunchy stand-up and actress best known for her role as Aunt Esther Anderson on the sitcom Sanford and Son, LaWanda Page passes away. The performer, who toured the chitlin’ circuit, released five comedy albums and acted as a chief sparring partner for Redd Foxx’s Fred G. Sanford, succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 81.

2007 - Jamie Foxx receives a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2009 - Time magazine shocks many with its headline.

2018 - The talk show Norm Macdonald Has a Show premieres on Netflix.

2018 - Paul Feig’s darkly comic crime thriller A Simple Favor is released, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively.

2018 - Since he was such a huge supporter and frequent drop in guest of San Francisco’s annual Comedy Day, Mayor Ed Lee thought it an absolutely perfect idea and the Recreation and Park Commission unanimously approved the decision to, on this date, rename the large Golden Gate Park field that played host to the comedy event “Robin Williams Meadow”.

2021 - Canadian stand-up legend and former Saturday Night Live star as Weekend Update’s anchor for three years, Norm Macdonald passes away in Los Angeles at age 61, nine years after being diagnosed with cancer, which he kept private.

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