Comedy in History

Events in Film & TV

  • 1598-04-30 1st theater performance in America (Spanish comedy-Rio Grande)

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1611-11-01 Shakespeare's romantic comedy "Tempest" first presented

  • 1787-04-16 1st American comedy, "The Contrast," made its debut in NYC
  • 1886-09-25 Comedy opera "Dorothy" first produced in London
  • 1912-09-23 1st Mack Sennett "Keystone Comedy" movie released "Cohen Collects a Debt"

Film release premierFilm Release

1914-12-21 1st feature-length silent film comedy "Tillie's Punctured Romance" released starring Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand and Charles Chaplin

  • 1915-10-09 Louis Kaufmans comedy "Unchastened Woman" premieres in New York City
  • 1921-05-23 "Shuffle Along" 1st black musical comedy, opens in NYC

Film release premierFilm Premier

1931-01-30 "City Lights", American silent romantic comedy film directed by Charlie Chaplin, starring himself and Virginia Cherrill, premieres at Los Angeles Theater

Comedian/Actor/Filmaker Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
  • 1933-10-02 Eugene O'Neill's comedy "Ah, Wilderness" premieres in NYC
  • 1936-07-29 RCA shows 1st real TV program (dancing, film on locomotives, Bonwit Teller fashion show & monologue from Tobacco Road & comedy)
  • 1939-04-17 SN Behrman's "No Time for Comedy" premieres in NYC

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1942-10-08 Comedy duo Abbott and Costello launch their weekly radio show

Comedian and Actor Lou Costello
Comedian and Actor
Lou Costello
  • 1944-09-28 1st TV Musical comedy (The Boys from Boise)

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1946-07-25 At Club 500 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis stage their first show as a comedy team.

Comedian Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis
  • 1949-05-29 Candid Camera, TV comedy show, moves to NBC
  • 1952-03-27 "Singin' in the Rain", musical comedy directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, premieres at Radio City Music Hall in NYC
  • 1953-06-11 "Amos 'n Andy" TV Comedy, also radio from '29; last aired on CBS
  • 1953-10-02 "Comedy in Music (Victor Borge)" opens at John Golden NYC for 849 performances
  • 1955-06-04 "Mickey Rooney Show" TV comedy last airs on NBC
  • 1955-06-12 "Mr Peepers" (TV Comedy) starring Wally Cox airs for last time on NBC

Film release premierFilm Release

1955-12-08 Black Ealing comedy "The Ladykillers", directed by Alexander Mackendrick and starring Alec Guinness is released in the UK

  • 1956-01-21 "Comedy in Music (Victor Borge)" closes at Golden NYC after 849 performances
  • 1957-01-04 "Blondie" situation comedy premieres on NBC TV (later on CBS)
  • 1959-01-24 Dmitri Shostakovitch's comedy "Cheryomushk" premieres in Moscow
  • 1962-09-26 TV comedy series "Beverly Hillbillies" premieres on CBS
  • 1964-11-09 "Comedy in Music-Opus 2" opens at John Golden NYC for 192 performances
  • 1965-04-24 "Comedy in Music-Opus 2" closes at John Golden NYC after 192 performances

Appears on tv showTelevision Debut

1965-09-18 TV comedy "Get Smart" created by Mel Brooks and starring Don Adams premieres

Actor & Director Mel Brooks
Actor & Director
Mel Brooks
  • 1967-02-05 "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" premieres on CBS (later ABC, NBC)

Film release premierFilm Premier

1967-04-19 "Casino Royale" James Bond comedy film starring David Niven and Peter Sellers premieres. Based on the Ian Fleming novel.

Actor David Niven
David Niven
Actor and Comedian Peter Sellers
Actor and Comedian
Peter Sellers
  • 1967-06-04 Monkees take home an Emmy for their Outstanding comedy Series

Film release premierFilm Release

1967-12-22 "The Graduate" American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, is released (Best Director 1968)

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1969-05-11 British comedy troupe Monty Python forms, made up of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin

Actor, Comedian John Cleese
Actor, Comedian
John Cleese
Comedian and Actor Michael Palin
Comedian and Actor
Michael Palin
  • 1969-06-08 "Smothers Brothers comedy Hour" last airs on CBS-TV
  • 1972-02-17 TV comedy M*A*S*H, adapted from the movie, starring Alan Alda, Loretta Swit and Wayne Rogers debuts on CBS in the US
  • 1973-06-30 "Burns & Schreiber Comedy Hour" TV Variety; debut on ABC
  • 1975-01-24 "Hot l Baltimore" situation comedy premieres on ABC TV
  • 1975-01-29 First American Annual Comedy Awards, hosted by Alan King
  • 1977-10-03 "Comedy with Music (Victor Borge)" opens at Imperial NYC for 66 performances
  • 1977-11-27 "Comedy with Music (Victor Borge)" closes at Imperial NY after 66 performances
  • 1978-09-12 Situation comedy "Taxi" premieres on ABC television
  • 1979-02-04 "Co-Ed Fever," TV Comedy, debut & cancelled that outing on CBS
  • 1979-11-08 Bernard Slade's "Romantic Comedy" premieres in NYC
  • 1980-07-02 Comedy film "Airplane!" written and directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker and starring Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty premieres
  • 1981-06-23 NYC Mayor Koch turns down a $7,500 offer to perform comedy
  • 1982-09-29 1st broadcast of comedy "Cheers" on NBC-TV starring Ted Danson and Shelley Long
  • 1983-06-08 "Trading Places", American comedy film, is released
  • 1984-04-05 "Human Comedy" opens at Royale Theater NYC for 13 performances
  • 1984-04-15 "Human Comedy" closes at Royale Theater NYC after 13 performances
  • 1984-06-08 "Ghostbusters", American supernatural comedy film, is released
  • 1984-06-08 "Gremlins", American comedy horror film, is released
  • 1986-09-29 "Designing Women" TV comedy, debuts on CBS

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1987-05-19 1st American Comedy Award: Johnny Carson & Betty White

Actress and Comedian Betty White
Actress and Comedian
Betty White

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1988-05-15 2nd American Comedy Award: Robin Williams & Tracey Ullman

Actor and Comedian Robin Williams
Actor and Comedian
Robin Williams
  • 1989-05-23 3rd American Comedy Award: Paula Poundstone
  • 1989-06-12 "Doctor Doctor", TV Comedy starring Matt Frewer, debuts on CBS-TV
  • 1990-03-10 4th American Comedy Award: "When Harry Met Sally"
  • 1990-04-01 "Ha!" comedy Channel on cable TV begins transmitting
  • 1990-05-28 "Dave Thomas Comedy Show" debuts on CBS-TV
  • 1990-06-25 "Dave Thomas Comedy Show" last airs on CBS-TV
  • 1991-03-09 5th American Comedy Award: Dennis Wolfberg
  • 1992-03-28 6th American Comedy Award: Cathy Ladman, Judy Watkins, Billy Crystal

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1993-02-28 7th American Comedy Award: Jerry Seinfeld

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld
  • 1993-09-01 "White Liars/Black Comedy" opens at Criterion NYC for 38 performances
  • 1993-10-03 "White Liars/Black Comedy" closes at Criterion NYC after 38 performances
  • 1994-03-07 8th American Comedy Award: Carrot Top
  • 1994-12-18 "Comedy Tonight" opens at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC for 8 performances
  • 1994-12-25 "Comedy Tonight" closes at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC after 8 performances

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1995-03-06 9th American Comedy Award: Rodney Dangerfield

Comedian and Actor Rodney Dangerfield
Comedian and Actor
Rodney Dangerfield
  • 1996-03-06 10th American Comedy Award: James Burrows
  • 1996-07-21 "The Daily Show" hosted by Craig Kilborn premieres on Comedy Central in the US
  • 1997-02-09 11th American Comedy Award: Debbie Reynolds
  • 1998-06-14 "Comic Relief" benefit comedy show

Event of interestEvent of Interest

2015-10-17 Amy Schumer's comedy special "Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo" premieres on HBO

Comedian Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer

Birthdays in Film & TV

  • 1655-02-07 Jean-Francois Regnard, French comedy writer (Slave in Algeria)
  • 1793-07-20 Aleksander Fredro, Polish comedy writer (Pan Jowiolski)
  • 1861-12-18 Lionel Monckton, British composer (Edwardian musical comedy), born in London, England (d. 1924)
  • 1871-06-14 Theo Frenkel, Dutch actor (Footlights, Hague's Comedy), born in Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands (d. 1956)
  • 1875-03-29 Paul Rubens, English musical comedy composer (Miss Hook of Holland), born in London (d. 1917)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1878-07-03 George M. Cohan, American father of musical comedy (Phantom President, Give My Regards to Broadway), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1942)

Composer George M. Cohan
George M. Cohan
  • 1890-08-12 Al Goodman, Nikopol Russia, orchestra leader (NBC Comedy Hour)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1892-01-18 Oliver Hardy, American comic actor (Laurel & Hardy), born in Harlem, Georgia (d. 1957)

Comic Actor Oliver Hardy
Comic Actor
Oliver Hardy
  • 1892-01-31 Eddie Cantor, American comedian (Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater), born in NYC, New York
  • 1897-04-15 Pedro Regas, Greek stage actor (Only Angels Have Wings, Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour), born in Goranoi, Greece (d. 1974)
  • 1903-01-04 Joris Diels, Flemish actor and director (It's a Cruel World, Haagsche Comedy), born in Antwerpen, Belgium (d. 1992)
  • 1905-02-04 Hylda Baker, English comedy actress, born in Farnworth, Lancashire, England (d. 1986)
  • 1906-09-30 John I M Stewart, British detective writer (Comedy of Terrors)
  • 1907-03-22 Paul J Steenbergen, Neth, actor (Ciske Rat)/founder (Hague's Comedy)
  • 1910-05-12 Gordon Jenkins, Webster Grove Mo, orchestra leader (NBC Comedy Hour)
  • 1910-12-02 Robert Paige, actor (Colgate Comedy Hour), born in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 1912-01-23 Ank van der Moer, actress (Verkade, Dutch Comedy)
  • 1913-08-03 Mel Tolkin, Ukrainian-born television comedy writer (d. 2007)
  • 1920-03-23 Jimmy Edwards, comedy actor (Barnes)
  • 1924-06-08 George Kirby, comedian (ABC Comedy Hour, Pearl Bailey Show), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • 1924-10-13 Terry Gibbs, American orchestra leader (Steve Allen Comedy Hour), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • 1924-11-17 Lucas J "Luc" Lutz, Dutch actor and director (Hague Comedy)
  • 1926-01-17 Richard Michael Hills, comedy script writer
  • 1928-06-19 Barry Took, English comedy writer (d. 2002)
  • 1931-05-19 Eric Davidson, comedy scriptwriter
  • 1931-07-28 Darryl Hickman, American actor (Human Comedy, Tea & Sympathy), born in Hollywood, California
  • 1933-11-15 Barbara Carson, actress (Comedy Tonight, Carter Country), born in Memphis, Tennessee
  • 1934-03-22 Larry Martyn, English comedy actor (d. 1994)
  • 1935-10-23 Jimmy Dale, Canadian orchestra leader (The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour), born in London, England
  • 1938-08-24 Mason Williams, American musician, songwriter, author and photographer (Classical Gas, Smother Brothers Comedy Hour), born in Abilene, Texas
  • 1939-04-05 David Winters, choreographer (Steve Allen Comedy Hour), born in London, England
  • 1940-11-22 Terry Gilliam, comedy author-animator (Monty Python), born in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1943-05-15 Harve Brosten, comedy writer/producer/director (All in the Family)
  • 1944-02-26 Marilyn Michaels, comedienne (ABC Comedy Hour)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1944-11-17 Lorne Michaels [Lipowitz], Canadian producer, actor and comedy writer (Saturday Night Live), born in Toronto, Ontario

Television Producer Lorne Michaels
Television Producer
Lorne Michaels
  • 1946-09-27 Robin Nedwell, English comedy actor (d. 1999)
  • 1948-11-10 Mario Viegas, actor (The Jew, Divine Comedy, Funeral of Patrao)
  • 1948-11-23 Bruce Vilanch, American comedy writer
  • 1950-10-30 Louise Duart, comedienne (Paramount Comedy Theater # 5), born in Quincy, Massachusetts
  • 1951-07-27 Janet Eilber, actress (Hard to Hold, Romantic Comedy), born in Detroit, Michigan
  • 1953-06-21 Robyn Douglass, American actress (Lonely Guy, Romantic Comedy), born in Sendai, Japan
  • 1955-01-07 Sandra Bernhard, Arizona (Follow That Bird, King of Comedy)
  • 1955-06-06 Sandra Bernhard, actress (King of Comedy, Nancy-Roseanne), born in Flint, Michigan
  • 1955-07-09 Fred Norris, comedy writer/singer (Howard Stern Show)
  • 1965-02-25 Carrot Top, [Scott Thompson], Fla, comedian (Amer Comedy Award-1994)
  • 1970-11-07 Neil Hannon, Northern Irish musician (The Divine Comedy)
  • 1987-11-30 Ian Hecox, Part of the America Online comedy duo Smosh

Weddings in Film & TV

HeartWedding of Interest

1971-10-05 Television producer Lorne Michaels (26) weds comedy writer Rosie Shuster (21)

Television Producer Lorne Michaels
Television Producer
Lorne Michaels
  • 2005-10-09 "The O.C." writer and talk show host Regis Philbin's daughter Jennifer Joy Philbin (31) weds NBC comedy series "The Office" writer Michael Schur (32) at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York City
  • 2014-05-25 Happy Endings actress Casey Wilson (33) weds comedy writer David Caspe (35) in Ojai, California

Deaths in Film & TV

  • 1721-09-20 Thomas Doggett, British comedy actor (Drury Lane Theatre), dies at approximately 51
  • 1876-07-15 Aleksander Fredro, Polish comedy writer (Zemstra), dies at 82
  • 1917-02-05 Paul Rubens, English musical comedy composer, (Miss Hook of Holland), dies at 41
  • 1924-02-15 Lionel Monckton, British composer (Edwardian musical comedy), dies at 62

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1942-11-05 George M Cohan, father of musical comedy, dies of cancer at 64

Composer George M. Cohan
George M. Cohan
  • 1956-09-20 Theo Frenkel, Dutch actor (Footlights, Hague's Comedy), dies at 85
  • 1957-01-07 Al White, choreographer (NBC Comedy Hour), dies
  • 1960-01-02 Cees [Cornelis J] Laseur, Dutch actor/dir (Hague Comedy), dies at 60
  • 1961-06-02 Peter H "Paul" Huf, actor and director (Dutch Comedy), dies at 70
  • 1964-10-10 Eddie Cantor, comedian (Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater), dies at 72
  • 1972-01-10 Al Goodman, Russian/US orchestra leader (NBC Comedy Hour), dies at 81
  • 1983-03-28 Ank [Anna M] van der Moer, actress (Verkade, Dutch Comedy), dies at 71
  • 1983-12-31 Frank Link, actor (Burns & Schreiber Comedy Show), dies at 46
  • 1984-05-01 Gordon Jenkins, orchestra leader (NBC Comedy Hour), dies at 73
  • 1985-06-28 James Craig, actor (Human Comedy, Kismet), dies of lung cancer at 74
  • 1986-05-01 Hylda Baker, English comedy actress (b. 1905)
  • 1992-04-04 Sy Kramer, singer/comedy writer dies of cancer at 59
  • 1993-03-02 Paul D Zimmerman, US screenwriter (King of Comedy), dies at 54
  • 1994-08-07 Larry Martyn, comedy actor (b. 1934)
  • 1994-11-08 Michael O'Donoghue, American comedy writer (SNL), dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at 54
  • 1994-11-14 John I M Stewart, detective writer (A Comedy of Terrors), dies at 88
  • 1996-04-01 Mario Viegas, actor (The Jew, Divine Comedy), dies at 47
  • 1996-05-20 Eric Davidson, comedy scriptwriter, dies at 65
  • 1996-06-06 Richard Michael Hills, comedy script writer, dies at 70
  • 2005-08-18 Gao Xiumin, Chinese comedy actress (b. 1959)
  • 2006-11-10 Diana Coupland, British comedy actress (b. 1932)
  • 2007-11-26 Mel Tolkin, television comedy writer (b. 1913)
  • 2008-08-29 Geoffrey Perkins, British comedy producer (b. 1953)
  • 2010-09-29 Greg Giraldo, American comedian (Comedy Central Roast) (b.1965)
  • 2011-04-23 John Sullivan, British comedy writer (b. 1946)