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Joe Flaherty, Comedian Known for His Work on SCTV and Freaks and Geeks, Dies at 82 | Radio-Canada News

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Joe Flaherty, the comedian and writer known for his roles on shows like Freaks and Geeks And SCTV, is dead. He was 82 years old.

“After a brief illness, he left us yesterday, and since then I have struggled to come to terms with this immense loss,” his daughter Gudrun Flaherty told CBC News on Tuesday, via SCTV producer and close family friend Andrew Alexander.

“I find comfort in the memories we shared and the incredible impact he had on those around him. His spirit, humor and love will be a part of me forever.”

An improv expert with an iconic voice and a gift for the guest spot, Flaherty’s credits run the gamut from cinematic blockbusters such as Presenter: The Legend of Ron Burgundy to television staples such as Frasier, Freaks and Geeks And family guy.

But he was perhaps best known for his small role as a heckler in Adam Sandler’s film. Merry Gilmore, and as a writer and performer in the Canadian comedy series SCTV.

WATCH | Martin Short calls Joe Flaherty the “anchorman” of SCTV:

Martin Short remembers Joe Flaherty as SCTV’s ‘anchorman’

Canadian comedy icon Martin Short says he relied heavily on Joe Flaherty in his early days on SCTV. “I worked with Joe for 50 years,” Short said of Flaherty, who died at 82.

One of the show’s original cast members, Flaherty remained for all six seasons of the show as he worked alongside comic legends such as John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, and Martin Short. And at least in Short’s opinion, his presence made it possible SCTV to the iconic status it ultimately enjoyed.

“When I was on SCTV, we used to call him the anchor,” Short said in an interview with CBC News. “In other words, he was the anchor of the whole show.”

The two worked together before and after the series ended. But it was sure SCTV, Short said, where Flaherty most directly acted as the glue behind the scenes.

“I was desperately counting on him,” Short said. “I was in the editing room editing a piece – I didn’t know what I was doing. And I was like, ‘Joe, come in here. Help me!'”

A woman laughs next to a man who is talking.
Catherine O’Hara, left, and Flaherty attend a panel discussion marking the 50th anniversary of Second City in Chicago on December 12, 2009. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Although he never achieved the same level of success as some of his castmates (nor did he move on to American competitor Saturday Night Live just like some of them), Flaherty was a household name in front of and behind the camera, especially to his fellow comedians.

“Joe was always there in the background, pulling the strings, initiating things, making things happen. And I took advantage of that,” said Dave Thomas, well known as one half of SCTV’It’s the duo Bob and Doug McKenzie.

“He was a pioneer and created a kind of comedy that a lot of comedians after us – like Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler and Conan O’Brien – credit him with being a kind of innovator.”

Larger than life

Thomas cited Flaherty’s use of dark comedy “before it was fashionable to be dark” and his writing: a larger-than-life talent that won him two Emmy Awards and put him in the orbit of countless other comedians.

In addition to writing, directing and starring in the Levy-created film Manic Mansion from 1990 to 1993, Flaherty took on the same multiple-hyphenation role in his comedy-anthology series Truly strange tales alongside O’Hara, Candy and Short.

With all of this history shared, Thomas said hearing about Flaherty’s death through a short text almost didn’t seem real.

“You’re never really prepared when you get ‘Joe died today.’ Three words,” he said. “And it’s almost like, no, that’s not fair – that all the experiences, all the laughs, all the performances, all the jokes, all the shows could be condensed like that into three words. It’s sad.”

WATCH | Flaherty on the creation of Really Weird Tales:

Post-SCTV Joe Flaherty discusses Really Weird Tales

The comedian calls on former colleagues, including Catherine O’Hara, for a new series he is producing. Aired July 9, 1986 on CBC’s Midday.

Flaherty viewed his successes with humility. According to the New York Times, he joked in front of a huge crowd at SCTVAt the 2018 reunion, it was surprising that anyone remembered them and that before the event he “just didn’t know if anyone would show up.”

But the group continued to collaborate from time to time, Flaherty said, because of what they could do together.

“I would say that SCTV “People bring to Hollywood a certain… I would say it’s the ability to get the most out of a script… as well, if not better, than anyone else in the business,” Flaherty told CBC News in 1986.

“It’s just a matter of how… your role fits in with the rest of the characters, and then how to get the most out of it. The main thing is to get the most out of it.”

After the series ended in 1984, Flaherty continued to star in a host of other comedies, but established himself as an accomplished performer with another iconic role: Harold Weir in the comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks in 1999.

Although this series only lasted one season, as SCTV he became cult and launched the careers of a generation of other comedians.

“So cool, we thought he was Canadian”

Fans and former co-stars shared their condolences on X, shortly after news of his death broke.

“I loved Joe growing up. My brother and I always laughed,” Sandler wrote. “The nicest guy you’ll ever know. A comedic genius. And a true sweetheart. A perfect combo.”

“I was so thrilled to be able to work with him,” said actress Jennifer Tilly, who played Flaherty’s daughter in 1997’s The bad guy. “His performance was perfect. A great actor. Gone too soon.”

“Joe Flaherty, an American so cool we thought he was Canadian. Thanks, Floyd Robertson,” wrote Ontario comedian Stewart Reynolds, referring to the iconic reporter character Flaherty starred in. SCTV.

Pittsburgh to Toronto

Flaherty earned his honorary Canadian status through a long association with the country and some of its most successful series.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1941, Flaherty served in the United States Air Force for four years before joining the Chicago improv group The Second City in 1969 – where his time would overlap with that of the future. Saturday Night Live star John Belushi and ghost hunters actor and groundhog day director Harold Ramis.

He eventually moved to Toronto, where he helped establish the Canadian branch of the troupe, paving the way for a career that would be perpetually affiliated with Canada and Canadians. He would play Kirk Dirkwood on the CTV show David Steinberg showMayor Andrews in the Canadian sitcom Call me Fitzand had a recurring role in the Vancouver filming Robson Arms. He also made a guest appearance on Royal Canadian Air Force prank.

He then became a faculty member at Toronto’s Humber College, serving as artist in residence and participating in the college’s first comedy workshop in 1997. That workshop, said author and fellow instructor Andrew Clark, would become more late Humber’s current comedy program.

“Joe was a very important part of this, because he brought other comedians of his level, you know, to meet the students,” Clark said, while remembering how compassionate and committed Flaherty was to these students, despite its legendary status.

“I knew he was terribly talented. But that’s when I realized he had a whole other side to him, that of a kind of mentor and instructor,” he said. he declared. “And then when it was over, I immediately went to a pay phone and called my parents and said, ‘Guess who I was in a room with?'”

Flaherty was married to Judith Dagley for 22 years until they divorced in 1996. The couple had two children, Gudrun and Gabriel Flaherty.



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