Toronto Mourns Passing of Revered Comedian Joe Flaherty, SCTV Icon


A heavy air of sorrow hangs over Toronto as the city mourns the loss of Joe Flaherty, revered comedian and foundational cornerstone of the beloved “SCTV” Canadian sketch series. At the age of 82, Flaherty leaves behind a legacy that will continue to ripple through the world of comedy.

His heartbreaking departure was announced by his daughter, Gudrun, on Tuesday. The beloved comedian bid his adieu to the world after a sudden, yet brief illness claimed him on Monday.

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Born amid Pittsburgh’s blue collars, Flaherty traded the steel city for the winter winds of the Windy City, embracing a robust stage career in The Second City of Chicago for seven years. After honing his craft in the US, he answered the call of the North, helping form the theater’s Toronto branch.

Flaherty effervesced one good-natured laugh after another, rubbing shoulders with comedy legends like John Candy and Catherine O’Hara on “SCTV”. Taking viewers behind the absurd facade of the fictional Second City Television station, Flaherty wowed audiences with his portrayals of the bumbling network boss Guy Caballero and the enigmatic vampiric TV host, Count Floyd. A star-studded ensemble flanked his comedic brilliance, including Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, and Andrea Martin.

His flair for hilarity didn’t go unnoticed. He cinched Emmys in 1982 and 1983 for his clever writing on “SCTV” and remained an influential figure in television and film for decades.

Later generations discovered his comedic genius through memorable roles like the caustic heckler in the 1996 film “Happy Gilmore,” and as the old-school father in the classic TV comedy “Freaks and Geeks,” that graced screens from 1999 to 2000.

Respected comedian Adam Sandler gave heartfelt tribute, saying, “Any move he made,” could elicit laughter. “Genius of a comedian. And a true sweetheart. Perfect combo,” Sandler effused about the late Flaherty.

Despite his storied career, Flaherty remained firmly rooted in Toronto, imparting wisdom to the next generation of comedians as an artist-in-residence at Humber College.

According to his daughter Gudrun, “Dad was an extraordinary man, known for his boundless heart and an unwavering passion for movies from the ’40s and ’50s.” Undeniably, cinema was not just a hobby for him; it charted the course of his career, helping him etch unforgettable moments on screen, particularly during his time with ‘SCTV’. His admirers, his students, and most importantly, his family will forever cherish his contribution to the comical tapestry of the entertainment industry, “proud of its success and so proud to be part of an amazing cast.”