Comedy Friends Remember ‘SCTV’s Joe Flaherty

John Francis Daley: ‘My favorite days on set were the ones where we had scenes together’
Comedy Friends Remember ‘SCTV’s Joe Flaherty

“We’ve lost another of my idols,” wrote comic actor Joel Murray on Twitter late last night. “RIP Joe Flaherty 1941-2024.”

In recent weeks, the Second City community had been raising money to help care for Flaherty, who’d been suffering from failing health. “Our beloved SCTV cast member, Joe Flaherty, is very ill,” said Martin Short in a fundraising plea in late February. “Joe is aware of the gravity of his failing health and would like to spend whatever time he has left at home rather than in a facility.”

After yesterday’s passing, more members of the comedy community shared their memories of Flaherty. Christopher McDonald, Flaherty’s Happy Gilmore co-star, wrote, “No one could have played the role of Donald like Joe Flaherty did. His comedic delivery was perfect and his role alone made Happy Gilmore the classic it is today. He will be missed. Rest easy Joe.”

“Joe Flaherty made me crack up so hard it ruined takes,” said Flaherty’s Freaks and Geeks TV son, John Francis Daley. “My favorite days on set were the ones where we had scenes together. What a lovely guy.”

Flaherty was a Second City luminary in Chicago during the early 1970s before traveling to New York for appearances on The National Lampoon Radio Hour alongside contemporaries Bill Murray and John Belushi. Then it was off to Toronto to help form Second City’s first Canadian troupe. “One day (Second City co-founder) Bernie (Sahlins) came in and said, ‘We’re opening a theater in Toronto. Does anybody want to go? Any volunteers?’” Flaherty remembered in The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater. “And everybody said, ‘Toronto? What the hell’s that?’ Nobody knew anything about Toronto.”

Flaherty and Brian Doyle-Murray volunteered anyway. It was likely the best move of Flaherty’s comedy career as he found local talents like Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner to join him. Flaherty became one of the powerhouses behind the legendary sketch show SCTV where he created classic characters like Guy Caballero, Big Jim McBob and Count Floyd.

I’m the other one who owned this album, a silly tribute to all of the local TV guys who dressed up to host horror-movie marathons. I bought it for my love of Flaherty, a guy I considered to be SCTV’s Aykroyd, equally adept at playing flustered straight men, wacky characters and a dizzying array of celebrities including Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston and Don Knotts. 

“I was incredibly fortunate to have worked with Joe Flaherty a few times,” wrote Whose Line Is It Anyway's Colin Mochrie, another veteran of Toronto’s Second City. “A sweet man that produced a lot of laughs. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.”


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