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This Late Actor Upstaged Adam Sandler in His Own Movie

This Late Actor Upstaged Adam Sandler in His Own Movie


  • Joe Flaherty, from SCTV fame, left behind an impressive legacy with his memorable performances in minor roles across film and TV.
  • Flaherty’s iconic characters, like Guy Caballero and Count Floyd, showcased his improvisational skills and comedic talent on SCTV.
  • Despite his many brief cameos, Flaherty’s knack for hitting comedic beats made him a recognizable face globally in the entertainment industry.

Some actors just stand out in any role that they are given, with many of their most recognizable roles coming from brief appearances. Cut to Rob Schneider yelling, “You Can Do It!” However, the world recently lost one of the most iconic character actors who became a recognizable face for his many brief roles in popular comedies.

We will look at who Joe Flaherty was, from his rise on the hit show SCTV, which produced some of Canada’s most iconic comedy stars, to the many cameos that made him a recognizable face worldwide. Whether it be a heckler, a priest, or a late-night horror host, Joe Flaherty left behind so many memorable performances worth celebrating.

Who Is Joe Flaherty?

Joe Flaherty Freaks and Geeks

Joe O’Flaherty was an American actor, writer, and comedian born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1941. He served in the United States Air Force for four years before switching gears and becoming more heavily involved in dramatic theater. He moved to Chicago in 1969, where he dropped the “O” in his last name and became involved in comedy with the Second City Theater.

However, Flaherty’s career started to progress when he moved to Toronto in 1973 to help establish the Toronto Second City theatre troupe. It is here that he became a member of the Canadian TV skit showSCTV (Second City Television), which marked his first major role in a series. From here, Flaherty would go on to many minor roles in film and TV until his death on April 1, 2024, at the age of 82, after a brief illness.


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Joe Flaherty Found Fame in An Unexpected Place

Before touching on how much of Joe Flaherty’s legacy came from spotlight-stealing minor roles in film and TV series, the actor did find fame early in his career, even cementing himself as a comedic icon. However, this came from the Canadian cult hit TV series SCTV, which made him a celebrity in the “Great White North” while remaining largely unknown outside the country.

Running from 1976 to 1984, SCTV made Flaherty a household name in Canada thanks to his improvisational skills, which helped push a lot of the humor in the series. This included catching fellow comedians off guard, but he is best known for his impressions of celebrities and politicians like Kirk Douglas, Richard Nixon, Art Garfunkel, Gregory Peck, and Alan Alda, as well as his original characters. Some of his most iconic characters included:

  • Guy Caballero: is the fictional shady owner of the SCTV Network, known for worming his way into others’ sympathy by faking using a wheelchair.
  • Count Floyd: In a nod to late-night horror hosts on public access TV, Count Floyd would introduce “Monster Chiller Horror Theatre” with an enthusiastic “Ah-ooooo.”
  • Floyd Robertson: The highly professional and serious anchor of the Melonville Nightly News.
  • Sammy Maudlin: The flashy and upbeat talk show host who was always overly enthused and emotional.
  • Big Jim McBob: The host of the “Farm Film Report” and movie reviewer who, along with John Candy’s character Billy Sol Hurok, would offer one of the more popular quotes with the goal to make celebrities “blow up real good”.

Standing among other comedians who would go on to larger careers in Hollywood, including Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy, it can be easy to overlook the show’s effect on Flaherty’s career. However, to many, he will always be remembered as their favorite cast member in the cult TV series.

Joe Flaherty Was Known for His Scene Stealing Cameos

Joe Flahtery’s career after SCTV saw him amass over 100 IMDB credits across film and TV. His most notable role past SCTV and its spin-offs is playing Harold Weir in Freaks and Geeks, but most of his credits are in minor roles. Despite most of his credits landing in cameo roles, Flaherty still had a strong presence and natural knack for hitting those comedic beats that often led to memorable moments in comedy classics and cult hits. Joe Flaherty, for many, was remembered as one of those “hey, I know that guy,” actors thanks to those many appearances.


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Throughout the history of cinema, moviegoers have been treated to some seriously iconic and memorable cameos that provide wonderful surprises.

Among his notable roles were the “Jeering Fan” in Happy Gilmore, “Western Union Man” in Back to the Future II, and “Father McNulty” in Detroit Rock City. He also made appearances in such cult and indie movies as Stuart Saves His Family, (Based on Al Franken’s SNL character Stuart Smalley), and the ‘college comedy’ Slackers. On top of that, Flaherty would continue to be involved in Canadian TV, notably appearing in 66 episodes of the show Maniac Mansion and doing multiple voice-acting roles.

Despite his Happy Gilmore character not even being named, Flaherty’s role in the movie is one of the most memorable and hilarious components of the comedy. Upon his passing, Sandler reminisced about the comedian, sharing that he “Worshipped Joe growing up. Always had me and my brother laughing,” adding, “Couldn’t be more fun to have him heckle me on the golf course. The nicest guy you could know” (via People magazine).

Joe Flaherty left behind an impressive legacy, and his influence on the Canadian comedy scene, in particular, is undeniable of how important he was to many growing up with SCTV. His many scene-stealing roles certainly made him a recognizable face globally, and many will always remember him for the many brief yet memorable performances he gave throughout his career.

Revisit the Best of Joe Flaherty With SCTV

While SCTV is not currently available for streaming, you can still revisit many of the classic segments from the show on YouTube through the official SCTV page (@TheOfficialSCTV) and find clips from random fan pages. Otherwise, you must purchase the DVDs from Amazon to get the full series. You can check out Joe Flaherty as Harold Weir in the short-lived, fan-favorite coming-of-age drama TV series Freaks and Geeks, streaming on Prime Video, Hulu, or Paramount+.

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