Joe Flaherty, the comedian and writer known for his roles on shows like Freaks and Geeks and SCTV, has died. He was 82.

“After a brief illness, he left us yesterday, and since then, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with this immense loss,” daughter Gudrun Flaherty shared with CBC News via SCTV producer and close family friend Andrew Alexander.

“I take solace in the memories we shared and the incredible impact he had on those around him. His spirit, humour and love will be a part of me forever.”

An improvisation expert with an iconic voice and gift for the guest spot, Flaherty’s credits run the gamut from movie blockbusters such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy to TV staples such as Frasier, Freaks and Geeks and Family Guy.  

A group of smiling people pose.
Former cast members of SCTV reunited at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., on March 6, 1999. From left in the front row are Dave Thomas, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy and Martin Short. In the back row are Joe Flaherty, left, and Harold Ramis. (E Pablo Kosmicki/Associated Press)

Even with a career spanning more than four decades, he was perhaps best-known for a small role as a heckler in the Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore and as a writer and performer in the Canadian comedy series SCTV.

He was one of the show’s original members, and worked alongside comic legends such as John Candy, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short. 

After the show ended in 1984, Flaherty went on to star in a host of other comedies, but established himself as a consummate performer with the role of Harold Weir in the comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks in 1999.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1941, Flaherty served with the U.S. Air Force for four years before joining Chicago improv group The Second City. He eventually moved to Toronto, where he would later became a faculty member at Humber College.

He was married to Judith Dagley for 22 years, until the two divorced. The couple had two children, Gudrun and Gabriel Flaherty.


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