- Cast of Wayne and Shuster
- Stephen Leacock
- Mack Sennett
- Andrew Alexander
- Peppiatt and Aylesworth
- Lorne Michaels
- Mark Breslin
- Ivan Reitman
- Bruce Hills and Andy Nulman
- Phil Hartman
- Mort Sahl
- Mike MacDonald
- Norm MacDonald
- David Steinberg
- Leslie Nielsen
- Catherine O’Hara
- Dan Aykroyd
- Michael J. Fox
Cast of Wayne and Shuster (1955-1990)
The cast of Wayne and Shuster were an ensemble that brought to life the famous sketches of the first inductees into the CCHOF, including the famous Rinse the Blood Off My Toga sketch which was performed on Ed Sullivan multiple times. Who can forget Sylvia Lennick’s immortal words as Julius Casers’ wife “I told him, I said Julie don’t go!”
Cast members included:
Ben Lennick, Don Gillies, Eric Christmas, Paul Kligman, Peggie Loder, Don Cullen, Lorraine Thompson, Larry Solloway, Jack Merigold, Don Cullen, Jack Duffy, Bill Kemp, Tom Harvey, and many other special guests over the years including inductee David Broadfroot.
Stephen Leacock (Orillia December 30, 1869 – March 28, 1944)
Stephen Leacock has a museum named for him in his sometime hometown of Orillia. Every year the museum hosts the presentation of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for humour. Leacock was a performer/writer who created Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and put Mariposa (his fictional version of Orillia) on the map. Between 1915 and 1925 he toured the world and was considered the best-known humourist in the world.
“I remember the NFB short we watched in school ‘My financial Career,’ based on Leacock’s writing. It resonated with me how brilliant this was. It captured my thoughts every time I walked into a big bank,” said Executive Director Tim Progosh. “It’s about time we acknowledge the man whose name is on the memorial medal for humour, the most prestigious award you can get for comedy writing.” Past Leacock Award winners have included Robertson Davies, Pierre Berton, W.O Mitchell, Farley Mowat, Mordecai Richler, and Stuart McLean.
The late Dave Broadfoot first introduced Stephan Leacock as a nominee in 2001
Mack Sennett (Danville Quebec Jan 17, 1880 – Nov 5, 1960)
Mack Sennett was born and lived in the eastern townships until he was seventeen, then it was off to Connecticut where he tried Opera singing before moving to New York Coty and became an actor.
In New York he received the financial backing he needed to move to California to pursue film making. In California he built the First film stage studio and he named it Keystone Studios. It was the home to Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin, the Keystone Cops and many more. It was called the Fun Factory and Mack was the King of Comedy. He created fast-paced slapstick comedy including pie throwing and car chases.
Sennett made over 1000 silent films, 25 ‘talkies.’ He won two Academy Awards and was given a third in 1938 for his contribution to film comedy. He is on both Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Andrew Alexander (March 24, 1944)
A sometime journalist, marketer and publicist, Andrew Alexander had the good fortune to take a job at Chicago’s Ivanhoe Theatre, where he met Second City co-founder Bernie Sahlins, whose attempts to expand to Toronto had failed miserably. Alexander assumed its debts for ownership and turned Second City Toronto into a comedy machine, whose cast – particularly the stars of SCTV – would become household names. In 1985, Alexander and partner Len Stuart, bought the entire franchise including the Chicago company and produced or executive produced hundreds of shows. Under Alexander’s aegis, Second City-trained names spanned generations, from Eugene Levy to Mike Myers to Chris Farley to Steve Carell to Stephen Colbert to Tina Fey.
Frank Peppiatt (Toronto March 19, 1927 - November 7, 2012)
John Aylesworth (Toronto August 18, 1928 – July 28 2010)
The career of the Canadian writing team of Peppiatt & Aylesworth is practically a history of variety TV itself. The shows they wrote and created define television through the ‘60s and ‘70s, series like: Hullabaloo, The Kraft Music Hall and The Julie Andrews Show. The duo, who began their career in Canada in the early ‘50s with the weekly comedy series After Hours, went on to write for: Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Jackie Gleason and Sonny & Cher. They also created one of the most popular syndicated series in history, Hee Haw, which ran for 22 years.
Lorne Michaels (Toronto November 17,1944)
Canadians with very long memories may recall Lorne Michaels’ early ‘70s stint with partner Hart Pomerantz in CBC’s very funny Hart & Lorne Terrific Hour. Its cancellation was a loss to comedy, but Michaels’ decision to pivot to masterminding comedy behind the camera would change everything. His live comedy gamble, Saturday Night Live has been on the air nearly a half-century, giving us generations of break-out comic genius, from John Belushi to Eddie Murphy to Mike Myers to Tina Fey. The show and its stars ignited an ongoing boom in movie comedies. Outside of SNL, Michaels’ keen eye for comedy saw him produce Kids in the Hall and 30 Rock. He holds the record for the most Emmy nominations by one person, with 94.
Mark Breslin (Toronto 1952)
A member of the Order of Canada, Mark Breslin founded the Yuk Yuk's comedy club chain – a booking network for comics to perform on stages nationally. These venues were the launching pads for countless comics including: Jim Carrey, Russell Peters, Howie Mandell and Norm Macdonald. A veteran TV producer and writer (The Joan Rivers Show, Friday Night! With Ralph Benmergui, Kenny vs. Spenny), he was artistic director of the Humber College Comedy Program and a founder of The Canadian Comedy Awards.
Ivan Reitman (October 27,1946 – February 12, 2022)
The late Ivan Reitman’s career defined big-budget comedy for decades, and served as a launching pad for legends, including Canadians like John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. After producing National Lampoon’s Animal House, he directed some very funny films including: Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Kindergarten Cop and Dave. His heart never far from home, the Czech-born Canadian produced The Trailer Park Boys Movie, and he donated the land in Toronto’s Entertainment District where his parents’ car wash had been, to create the Toronto International Film Festival’s TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Bruce Hills and Andy Nulman (1985 – present)
What started in Montreal as a festival of entirely francophone comedy became the world’s most Hollywood-connected comedy festival with the introduction of an English component. Under the directorship of JFL co-founder Andy Nulman, Canadians like Andre-Philippe Gagnon and Norm Macdonald launched their careers from the Gala stage. International comics like Tim Allen saw their “bits” become sitcoms overnight. His successor Bruce Hills, who began as a JFL driver in 1986, expanded the brand, launching Just For Laughs festivals in Toronto, Vancouver; Sydney, Australia; Austin, Texas, U.S.A.; and in London, U.K.
Phil Hartman (Brantford September 24, 1948 – May 28, 1998)
Phil was an actor, comic, writer and a graphic designer. He even designed albums for Poco, America and Steely Dan. In 1975 he got the comedy bug when he joined the legendary Groundlings sketch and improv comedy group. It was there he met and worked with Paul Reubens creating Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Most remember his eight-year stint at SNL or the TV sitcom he left the show to do, News Radio. And that voice? Yes, he voiced Simpsons’ characters Troy McClure and Lionel Lutz. He won an Emmy for his work on SNL and is on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Mort Sahl (Montreal May 11, 1927 - Oct 26, 2021)
Using only a newspaper as a prop, Mort Sahl revolutionized comedy and took political satire to a new level. The first Tonight Show host Steve Allen said Sahl “was the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy”. Mort’s live-onstage raw performance inspired a whole new direction in comedy and influenced a host of comedians which included: Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Lewis Black. Mort’s intelligent wit was far reaching even landing him a job writing for John F. Kennedy. Kennedy’s death created a lifelong obsession for Mort, as he strove to find the truth behind Kennedy’s assassination.
Mike MacDonald (Metz, France June 21, 1955 - March 17, 2018)
Mike grew up travelling with his family because his dad was in the Canadian Air Force. Always a music fan he loved drumming and at one point he even taught ballroom dancing. He is best known as “The King of Comedy” to any fellow comic touring in Canada from the ‘70s to the date of his untimely death.
Mike started doing comedy in Ottawa when there was no fulltime comedy venue. When the first club Hiccups opened, he was a frequent MC and performer. Touring with Yuks Yuks he built a huge following which landed several comedy specials garnering multiple Gemini nominations. This success was rewarded with his own sitcom Mosquito Lake. He was the only comedian to perform at every JFL Festival and was known for sitting with comics and helping them add a tag line or telling them ideas to make their bits better.
Mike had various health issues, both mental and physical, but managed to come back after a liver transplant to perform again. In his lifetime Mike was presented with both the Phil Hartman Award and the Dave Broadfoot Award for Comic Genius by The Canadian Comedy Awards.
Norm MacDonald (Quebec City October 17, 1959 – September 14, 2021)
Norm rose out of the Ottawa Yuk Yuks comedy club to become a true star of stage and screen. From his deadpan stage delivery to the most irreverent turns on numerous talks shows (including his own), or the SNL news guy that loved skewering OJ; Norm was always Norm. He progressed very quickly from amateur nights to JFL showcases, to getting a writing gig on Roseanne to appearing on SNL. Norm had his own television sitcom, more than one talk show, acted in over 20 feature films and we haven’t even mentioned about his voice work. Among his many voice performances Norm was the voice of the cranky lion in DR Doolittle and also Death on the Family Guy! Comics loved him, fans loved him and this clip from Conan is an insight onto his mind. He takes the whole interview spot to tell one joke.
David Steinberg (Winnipeg August 9, 1942)
David Steinberg has had several careers in one lifetime bringing humour with him to each life. He just released a book called Inside Comedy and has directed multiple episodes of the very funny show Curb Your Enthusiasm and that is in the past two years! David started his comedy at The Second City Chicago and was a fan of stand-up Lenny Bruce. He received notoriety as a stand up and appeared on The Tonight Show 130 times (second only to Bob Hope). He had his own television show, The David Steinberg Show, where he built a cast that included, Dave Thomas, John Candy, Joe Flaherty and Andrea Martin; but the show only lasted one season. He won two Emmy Awards for writing the Academy Awards, was nominated for several Directors Guild Awards for Seinfeld and Mad About You. A man of many skills, David hosted a show where he interviewed comics, Travelling with Comics and released several comedy albums. A living legend, David Steinberg.
Leslie Nielsen (Regina February 11, 1926-November 28, 2010)
“Surely you can’t be serious?” “I am serious and quit calling me Shirley.”
Leslie Nielsen portrayed over 220 characters over 60 years and most of them were funny. As Paul Gross once said of his Due South Co-star “He always brought his fart machine with him.” From the ‘50s to the ‘70s it was mostly drama and romance but that changed when the Zucker brothers cast him in Airplane! Then it was all the deadpan comedy he could handle in The Naked Gun films and the TV series Police Squad. Nielsen is on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Catherine O’Hara (Toronto March 4, 1954)
Catherine is the recipient of many awards: Emmy’s, Genies, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and more. She has won awards as part of the sketch ensemble SCTV as both a writer and performer, as the loving mother in Home Alone and Moira in Schitt’s Creek. Catherine O’Hara has been the leading lady in comedy since she stepped on the stage and began writing sketches for The Second City in 1974. She started as the understudy to Gilda Radner and got her break when Gilda went on to SNL. One of her first television roles was in a sketch on a Wayne And Shuster Special. She worked with John Candy in a sitcom called Coming up Rosie. Her characters are not just hilarious but touch us with their humanity.
Dan Aykroyd (Ottawa July 1, 1952)
Actor, comic, musician writer and excellent at all of them. He’s been nominated for an Academy award and won an Emmy. An original member of SNL Dan started doing comedy at The Second City and was recognized early on as being a little different and brilliant. Dan and SNL cast mate, John Belushi branched out from SNL to do the Blues Brothers movie and tour as the Blues Brothers. Dan loves music so much started his own chain of clubs The House of Blues. His dad researched paranormal activity and Dan was able to turn that knowledge into Ghostbusters, one of the biggest block buster movies of all time. Fellow Second City Alumnus Dave Thomas once said, “Danny he was brilliant and funny, he always made the scene work.”
Michael J. Fox (Edmonton June 9, 1961)
Michael is one of those entertainers whose characters are so strong it’s hard to not see him as:
Alex P Keaton on Family ties, or Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy or Mike Flaherty the deputy Mayor in Spin City or even as himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. If you just hear that voice, you probably recognize it from movies like Stuart Little or countless other voice performances. A comic actor with a tremendous sense of timing and delivery, Fox turned his attention to the cause of Parkinson’s when he was diagnosed with the disease at 29, in 1991. He has written several books and has won countless awards including: several Screen actors Guild Awards, several Emmys, Golden Globes, People’s Choice, Nickelodeon, American Comedy Awards and a Grammy!