SCTV's forgotten comedy hero: remembering Joe Flaherty, RIP

In the mid-'80s, my friends and I had our own secret television show: SCTV, one of the greatest comedy shows of all time. It didn't air until 1:00 am, after SNL on NBC. How many people in their 30s, 40s or beyond would stay up that late to watch a Canadian sketch show? So it felt like a special event made just for us — college kids and people in the know. 

From that show emerged many of the all-time comedy greats: Martin Short, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy. But Joe Flaherty, who never achieved the long lasting fame some of co-stars did, was one of the key cast members and played many of my favorite characters. As reported in Deadline, Flaherty died this week at 82 years old and I didn't want to let the moment pass without an appreciation: 

In a series that spotlighted any number of vivid comic characters, Flaherty proved a central presence on the weekly show that was set in a fictional TV station in the equally fictitious Canadian town of Melonville. Flaherty portrayed the station's owner-manager Guy Caballero, who used a wheelchair only to solicit respect and sympathy.

Among Flaherty's other popular characters were the station's horror movie host Count Floyd, whose Monster Chiller Horror Theater featured movies so bad — and frequently very non-horror — that the host would be forced to unconvincingly stammer, "Oooh, that's scary, kids," and Big Jim McBob, whose "Farm Film Report" (with John Candy) was a sort of Siskel & Ebert for fans of movie explosions. The segment made a catchphrase of "that blowed up real good."

The arc of an actor's career is impossible to predict. Why he didn't achieve the same level of success as the others is a mystery to me. His characters were sharp and hilarious and unforgettable. Here's a couple of YouTube links to a few of my favorites but I encourage you to watch whole episodes. They're all classics. 

I miss those nights, up with my friends til 2:00 am, eating pizza and knowing you'd just seen something special, something you'd still be laughing about 40 years later.

Previously: The funniest movie you`ve never seen