Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live

Jew of the Week: Shelley Berman

Sheldon Leonard Berman (1925-2017) was born in Chicago. After serving in the navy during the Second World War, he went to study drama and theatre. Berman soon moved to New York in search of his big break, and in the mean time made a living as a taxi driver, dance instructor, speech therapist, and drug store worker. Failing to find success, Berman returned to Chicago and joined the Compass Players actors group. This group would transform into The Second City, an improv troupe that became one of the most influential in the world, eventually spawning Saturday Night Live, and many other hit shows and comedy clubs. In 1957, Berman started doing stand-up comedy and was soon signed to a record deal. His first three albums all went gold, and Berman won the first-ever Grammy for a comedy recording. With this, Berman launched an industry, making comedy albums popular and paving the way for countless future comedians. Berman starred on Broadway, and appeared on multiple TV shows, including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Twilight Zone, and MacGyver; as well as Friends, The King of Queens, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Grey’s Anatomy later in his career. Berman also appeared in 11 films, wrote three books, two plays, and numerous poems and TV scripts. For twenty years, he taught humour writing at the University of Southern California. Berman was famous for his clean, innocent jokes; for making the annoyances of everyday life hilarious. Great comedians like Steve Martin, Woody Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld followed in his footsteps, and credited him with both being an inspiration, and “changing modern stand-up”. Sadly, Berman passed away last month from complications related to Alzheimer’s. Berman left behind a daughter, and a wife to whom he was happily married for an incredible seventy years. This was the achievement he was most proud of, and said: “The love we have and the way it has grown, that’s what I’d like to be remembered for.”

Words of the Week

Humour uplifts the mind from a state of constricted consciousness to a state of expanded consciousness.
– Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov

Jew of the Week: Lorne Michaels

America’s King of Comedy

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michael Lipowitz (b. 1944) was born in a kibbutz in Israel. While still a child, his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada where he grew up (and graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English). He first started working as a writer for the CBC, and by 1968 moved to Los Angeles to write for a couple of comedy shows. He briefly returned to Canada in the early 70s (by now officially known as Lorne Michaels) to star in a Canadian comedy show called The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour. While working for NBC in 1975, Michaels co-created NBC’s Saturday Night, and served as its main writer and producer. The show was an instant hit, and quickly gained popularity across the country. Two years later, the program changed its name to Saturday Night Live. It has since won 36 Emmy Awards (with 156 nominations), and is consistently among the highest-rated late night TV shows. More significantly, the show launched the careers of some of the world’s best-known comedians, including Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Rob Schneider, Sarah Silverman, and Will Ferrell. Last week, the show celebrated its 40th anniversary, making it one of America’s longest-running shows (and longest-running late night show). It has also been ranked among the greatest TV shows of all time. Meanwhile, Michaels has served as executive producer of the popular shows 30 Rock and Up All Night, as well as NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and since 2013, The Tonight Show hosted by Jimmy Fallon. All in all, Michaels played a key role in over 40 films and television programs. He has won many prestigious awards for his work, and was honoured with a star on both Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. Described as America’s “primary satirical voice” and the “father of American popular comedy”, Michaels is also a member of the Order of Canada, and the TV Academy Hall of Fame.

Words of the Week

Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.
– Sir Winston Churchill