Those of us who grew up with SCTV have it deep inside our nervous systems. To this day, if Joe Flaherty and John Candy show up on Instagram, as they did for me yesterday, in a sketch as the two hopeless lads from “Goin’ Down the Road,” we watch it all again and love every maple syrup minute of it.

Well, Joe Flaherty has gone down the road for keeps, dying at 82 on, yes, April Fools Day. Would that it was a joke. We are now all forever stranded on The Sammy Maudlin Show, and not even William B. Williams is around to help us chuckle our way out of it.

Flaherty was the guy who stayed. He was there at the beginning when the dollar ninety-nine version of SCTV crept onto Global, bringing with it Flaherty’s not even close to P.C. character Alky Stereopolus. He was there six seasons later at the end, on The Movie Network, turning out the lights as wheelchair faker/station boss Guy Cabalero.

I’m pretty sure he came to the Television Critics Association press tour at least once, probably with the young cast members and executive producer Judd Apatow when Freaks & Geeks was being shopped and him there as the dad. There was something about Flaherty’s energy that woke up a room and set the table for laughter.

I  ran into him once years ago at an airport, LAX I think. We were both waiting for our bags at the carousel. He was friendly, down to earth and thrilled somebody remembered Alky, one of his lesser known characters.

Flaherty was also a key writer on SCTV and turned up as a guest star on everything from Frasier to Puppets Who Kill. He was part of the greatest Christmas special ever, Dave Foley’s True Meaning of Christmas Specials, killing it in giant Dumbo ears as mean Bing Crosby slandering Foley as David Bowie (or “Boowie” as der Bingle kept mis-pronouncing it).


He was 90 seconds of gold in several comedy features, enhancing “Stripes,” “Happy Gilmore” and “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” He was exactly what the cult comedy “The Wrong Guy” (1997) needed in those moments opposite Foley and Jennifer Tilly.

The Pittsburgh native made a lot of us laugh on both sides of the border. He also ruffled feathers three years ago when he apparently Tweeted out the bad news that Martin Scorsese’s planned documentary about the SCTV cast was never going to happen. There was a reunion, a glorious get together in May of 2018 where six other cast originals –  Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Dave Thomas – joined Flaherty on stage with Jimmy Kimmel at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre.

The 2018 SCTV reunion at The Elgin. Flaherty is seated far right

There was no joy in Mellonville when Flaherty posted the word he heard that the documentary was off. Retractions galore followed, with Flaherty dismissed as an Internet novice who mis-typed.

It has now been another three years since the denials, and it looks more and more that the reunion will ultimately take place the day the remaining cast members all intersect on the set of Only Murders in the Building.

In the meantime, we can all just close our eyes, or open our phones, to see Flaherty in perpetuity as William F. Buckley on the PBS Battle of the Network Stars, or as one of the Five Neat Guys, or as Big Jim McBob on the Farm Film Report. Blow up real good Big Jim, and thanks for all the laughs.

1 Comment

  1. Fabulous stuff. Great tribute to a marvellous man.

    Thanks Bill 🙏🏻

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