Stephen Leacock, Peppiatt & Aylesworth Acclaimed into the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame
The Board and Nomination Committee of the CCHOF have voted to acclaim writer and
humourist Stephen Leacock and the legendary TV comedy producers Frank Peppiatt & John
Aylesworth into the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame.
The vote was unanimous for Canada’s greatest humourist and the writing duo that dominated and changed television comedy. Every year the board and the Nomination Committee of the CCHOF has the ability to acclaim two Legacy acts into the Hall.
Stephen Leacock has an award and a museum named after him (both based in his sometime home-town of Orillia). He 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 as the best-known humourist in the world.
The late Dave Broadfoot first introduced Stephan Leacock as a nominee in 2001
“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.
Peppiatt & Aylesworth
The career of the Canadian writing team of Peppiatt and Aylseworth is practically a history of variety TV itself. A list of shows they wrote and helped create defines 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.
Here’s Rich Little and Dave Broadfoot talking about Peppiatt and Aylesworth
2022 Nominee Bios - Creators
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, and a launching pad for the likes of Jim Carrey, Russell Peters 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.
The late Sandra Faire’s four-decade TV producing career spanned comedy, music and dance (So You Think You Can
Dance Canada). But she began in the ‘70s as associate producer for a Toronto-filmed series starring U.S. comic George Kirby. She went on to nurture many Canadian comicss with Comedy Now!, Comedy Inc. and The Holmes Show (starring eventual Air Farce member Jessica Holmes). With 199 episodes, each showcasing a single standup, Comedy Now! gave national exposure to Canadian comics. Episode stars included Brent Butt, Russell Peters, Gavin Crawford and Shaun Majumder.
KEITH JOHNSTONE/LOOSE MOOSE THEATRE
Chicago gets most of the credit for modern improv comedy. But far away, in the unlikely mecca of Calgary, a contrarian British educator and playwright named Keith Johnstone decided to apply his theories of acting spontaneously to the stage. The Loose Moose Theatre, co-founded in 1977 by Mel Tonkin, gained an international reputation, and inspired long-running improv shows like Theatresports, Maestro and Gorilla Theatre. Loose Moose alumni include Kids in the Hall’s Mark McKinney and Bruce McCulloch, Pat Kelly & Peter Oldring, SNL and King of the Hill writer Norm Hiscock and comedian Roman Danylo.
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 films like Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Kindergarten Cop and Dave. His heart never far from home, the Czech-born Canadian produced The Trailer Park Boys Movie, and 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.
ANDY NULMAN/BRUCE HILLS, THE JUST FOR LAUGHS FESTIVAL
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 Nulman, Canadians like Andre-Philippe Gagnon and Norm Macdonald launched their careers from the gala stage, and 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..
A comic’s comic, and a comic who nurtured comics, the late JoAnna Downey was funny, insulting and warm in equal
measure. Her legendary Wednesday night open mike at Toronto’s Spirits nightclub had a wide reputation, attracting the likes of Robin Williams (who received a tongue-lashing from Downey for hogging the stage). On a given night, you could see top Canadian comics trying out new material, drop-ins like Lewis Black and Patton Oswalt, or then-future stars like Ryan Belleville and Debra DiGiovanni. Canadian comedy was her extended family, and that family mourns her still.
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.
ROBERT GRAVEL/YVON LEDUC, LIGUE NATIONAL D’IMPROVISATION
In 1977, two members of the Experimental Theatre of Montreal, Robert Gravel and Yvon Leduc, came up with a novel
way to inject entertainment into the art of improv. They created a hockey themed Ligue National D’Improvisation, with
an “ice surface,” two teams of six actors, coaches, a referee, and an audience with noise-makers and a scoring card. This
twist on Theatresports – complete with a regular season and playoffs - became a viral francophone phenomenon, catching on in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Franco-African nations. At home, the Ligue was televised for years, with a generation of Quebec’s top comics and actors “playing.” Famed playwright Robert Lepage was Rookie of the Year in 1984 and credited it as a major influence in his theatrical approach.
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, igniting 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.
2022 Nominee Bios - Legacy
Olivier Guimond (born Montreal May 21 – 1914 – November 29, 1971)
There is no question that Quebec supports its artists and one of its favourites Ti-Zoune Jr. (Olivier) Guimond was a natural. His parents were pioneers in the wave of burlesque that swept Quebec in the 1920’s. He convinced his parents to let him perform as Olivier “Ti Zoune jr.” His performance and characters fueled the rise of comedy on radio and on television (Music Hall), but they were honed live in burlesque. He was physical, charming, and often compared to Charlie Chaplin. He worked with the legendary Rose Ouellette and many others. His sketch “Trois heures de matin “, perfected in the live burlesque shows is one of the most famous sketches to come from Quebec. He played the lead in the series Cre Basile and released several comedy albums. In 1966 he was crowned Monsieur Radio- Television at the gala Des artist. One of his last performances was Bye Bye the New Year’s special on Radio Canada. He plays a French soldier guarding a rich white home in Westmount on New year’s during the October Crisis – topical, poignant and legendary.
Mordechai Richler (Montreal January 27, 1931 – July 3, 2001)
Mordechai wrote novels, plays, screenplays and essays most note able “The Apprenticeship of
Duddy Kravitz”, “Barneys Version” and the Jacob Two Two series of children books. He was
versatile but always gave insight into the Canadian Identity and the sensitivities of Quebec and
the separatist movement from an Anglophones perspective. He has won many awards among
- 2 governor generals awards – Cocksure and Tigers under glass
- Giller Prize for Barneys version
- Writers Guild of America for the screen play The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
- Canadian Library Association Book of the year – Jacob Two Two meets the Hooded Fang.
- Stephen Leacock Award for Barney’s version
- He is on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
The Happy Gang (comedy troupe radio show CBC 1937-1959)
In its Hay day two million Canadians tuned in to hear the knock knock on the door – the voice Who’ there? The response “It’s the Happy gang” …” Well Come on in. And the variety show entertained, boy did it entertain. In WII the Happy Gang records were played on the trans-Atlantic crossings and back home the song “There’ll Always Be an England” was performed nearly every day to give all hope. Bert Pearl was the band leader and Master of Ceremonies, trumpeter Bob Farnon, violinist Blain Mathe and Kathleen (kay) Stokes rounded out the original four-member troupe/band. In 1975
they did a special show at the CNE with many of them in their 80’s. They were inspired as over 20,000 people showed up to show The Happy Gang they will never be forgotten.
Cast of Wayne and Shuster
The cast of Wayne and Shuster were an ensemble that flushed out the famous sketches of the first inductees into the CCHOF, including the famous ‘Julius Caesar sketch’ which was performed on Ed Sullivan multiple times. Who can forget Sylvia Lennick’s immortal words as Julius Casers’ wife “I told Him Julie Don’t go”.
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.
Beatrice Lillie (Toronto May 29, 1894 – Jan 20, 1989)
She came naturally to performing, touring Ontario in a trio with her mother and older sister while dad was running their home as a boarding house in Toronto. The actor moved to England performing in the West End revues until 1922. She developed her own style and her debut on Broadway in 1924 was met with lavish reviews. Not limited to the stage she starred with fellow Canadian Jack Pickford (brother of Mary Pickford) in “Exit Smiling” but retuned to Broadway and Vaudeville at the Palace Theatre. She was deemed the funniest woman in the world. Her friends: Noel Coward and Cole Porter, wrote for her and she performed their works “This year Grace” and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” She continued wowing audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and was known as the queen of the double entendre, perfected over time and acknowledged in her Broadway epic “An evening with Beatrice Lillie”
Mack Sennett (Danville Quebec Jan 17, 1880 – Nov 5, 1960)
He lived in the eastern townships till he was 17 then it was off to Connecticut where he tried Opera singing until he moved to NY and became an actor. With money behind him he moved to California and built the 1 st film stage studio ever- he
constructed 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 – pie throwing and car chases. He made over 1000 silent films, 25 talkies, won 2 academy awards and 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.
2022 Nominees - Performers
1) Norm MacDonald
2) Mike MacDonald
3) The Cast of SCTV
4) The Cast of CODCO
5) Steve Smith
6) Rose Oulette
7) Catherine O’Hara
8) Mort Sahl
9) Elvira Kurt
10) Michael J. Fox
11) Al Waxman
12) Phil Hartman
13) Leslie Nielsen
14) David Steinberg
15) Dan Aykroyd