Joe Flaherty | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Joe Flaherty

Joseph O’Flaherty, actor, writer (born 21 June 1941 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; died 1 April 2024). Joe Flaherty was an American comedian who came to Canada in 1973 to help establish the Toronto branch of the Chicago Second City comedy troupe. He is the only performer, apart from Andrea Martin, to have appeared in every episode of SCTV over the eight-year run of the satirical TV comedy show. His best-known characters were Guy Caballero, the unscrupulous station owner who rode around in a wheelchair to get “respect,” and Count Floyd. Flaherty and the SCTV cast won an Emmy Award in 1982 and another in 1983, as well as the Earle Grey Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 1995 Gemini Awards.

Career Highlights

Of all the original SCTV alumni, Joe Flaherty chose to give Hollywood stardom a pass. Instead, he remained in Canada and made guest appearances in numerous film and television shows. He appeared in Back to the Future Part II (1989) and as the heckler in Happy Gilmore (1996).

Other films include The Lady in Red (1979), Stripes (1981), Heavy Metal (1981; voice), By Design (1982), Sesame Street Presents Follow that Bird (1985), Who's Harry Crumb? (1989), Stuart Saves His Family (1995), The Wrong Guy (1997), Home on the Range (2004; voice) and Phil the Alien (2005; voice).

Cult Favourite

Joe Flaherty's television credits include the highly acclaimed YTV series Maniac Mansion (1990-93), which he wrote, starred in and directed. Named by Time magazine as one of the 10 best shows of 1990, its nonconformity to normal sitcom standards assured its cult status and relatively short lifespan.

Flaherty also played a father in the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000). The short-lived show starred many future stars, including Seth Rogen, and became a cult hit.

Other Credits

Joe Flaherty also appeared as a priest in four episodes of the popular CBS show The King of Queens (2001-03). He was a regular on The David Steinberg Show (1972) and made guest appearances in Kojak, King of Kensington, Traders, That 70s Show, Frasier, Royal Canadian Air Farce and Primetime Glick. He had a recurring role in the Vancouver-filmed series Robson Arms and contributed his voice to episodes of Family Guy and American Dad.

Honours and Awards

Along with the other cast members and writers of SCTV Network 90, Joe Flaherty won an Emmy Award in 1982 and another in 1983 for outstanding writing in a variety or music program. In 1990, Flaherty won a Gemini Award for best supporting actor in Looking for Miracles, a TV movie based on the novel by A.E. Hotchner. In 1995, the original SCTV team collectively received the Earl Grey Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Gemini Awards.

One of Canada's most accomplished writers of sketch comedy, in 2002 Flaherty became a member of the faculty at the Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts in Toronto, where he taught a course on comedy writing.

Second City troupers
Joe Flaherty, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Dave Thomas and Eugene Levy in Toronto, 28 August 1988.
(photo by Gail Harvey, courtesy Toronto Star via Getty Images)