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Remembering Jan Hooks

"Phil Hartman is my hero."

Jan Hooks sits next to me on a couch, nibbling a ham sandwich. We're at Michael O'Donoghue's Christmas party, listening to a live, Celtic band.

"Phil can do anything. He made me better."

I usually refrain from asking SNL vets about their on-air work, but I couldn't resist in Jan's case. When I mention how beautifully she and Phil worked together, Jan gave him all of the credit.

"Well, you're pretty great yourself," I reply, meaning every word.

Michael drifts by, touches Jan's shoulder. She smiles and squeezes Michael's hand.

"Ain't he sweet?" Jan says in that Southern sing-song voice she's done a [...]

David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and More Pay Tribute to Joan Rivers

Here's a clip from last night's Late Show, in which Letterman takes a few moments to pay tribute to Joan Rivers following news of her passing. "The force and power of her comedy was overwhelming. I said to people, 'I didn't remember that she was that funny,' but by God, she was all her life." Click through to see some other late night tributes to Rivers last night from Late Show, The Daily Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show, and Conan.

Amy Poehler: "My Whole Life Changed Once Don Pardo Said My Name"

"My whole life changed once Don Pardo said my name. I will really miss that kind and talented man."

- In a short but sweet statement for The Wrap, Amy Poehler remembers SNL's legendary announcer Don Pardo.

Comedy Legend Robin Williams Dies at 63

Comedy legend and beloved Hollywood star Robin Williams has died at the age of 63. According to a report by police in Marin County, California, the Oscar-winning actor died this morning of an apparent suicide. "Robin Williams passed away this morning," said his spokesperson Mara Buxbaum. "He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."

Williams's wife Susan Schneider also released the following statement:

This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human [...]

Rik Mayall of 'The Young Ones' and 'Drop Dead Fred' Is Dead at 56

Beloved pioneer of British alt comedy, Rik Mayall, has died today at the age of 56. Known primarily for his role as Rick the anarchist poet on the BBC2 sitcom The Young Ones, and later as a spastic imaginary friend in the American comedy film Drop Dead Fred, Mayall's boundless energy and kinetic facial expressions influenced generations of comedians who came up watching him on TV, and earned him praise from the English humor aristocracy that came before him.

"Very sad to hear of the passing of Rik Mayall," Monty Python's Eric Idle tweeted this morning. "Far too young. A very funny and talented man."

Mayall and his Young [...]

'SNL' Alum Jan Hooks Dies at 57

Sad news: TMZ reports that Jan Hooks — a former cast member on SNL who also appeared on Designing Women, The Martin Short Show, 30 Rock, and more — died in New York City today at the age of 57. A rep confirmed that Hooks "had been battling a serious illness," though no further details have been released.

Hooks was an SNL cast member from 1986-1991; you can read more about her fantastic stint on the show here, then click through to watch "The Diner," one of her most memorable sketches with host Alec Baldwin.

Louis C.K. on Joan Rivers: "It Really Fucking Sucks That She Had to Die All of a Sudden"

"I feel very lucky that I knew Joan Rivers and I feel very sad that she's gone. She was a great comedian and a wonderful person. I never saw someone attack a stage with so much energy. She was a controlled lightning bolt. She was a prolific and unpredictable, joyful joke writer. She loved comedy. She loved the audience. She was a great actress and should have done that more. She loved living and working. She was kind. She was real. She was brave. She was funny and you just wanted to be around her. I looked up to her. I learned from her. I loved her. I liked her. [...]

Don Pardo, the Iconic Voice of 'SNL,' Dies at 96

The iconic voice of Saturday Night Live has passed away. News broke last night that Don Pardo, who worked as SNL's announcer since the show's debut in 1975, died in his home of Tucson, Arizona at the age of 96. Pardo's voice is synonymous with SNL's opening credit sequence, and Lorne Michaels told the New York Times that "every year the new cast couldn't wait to hear their name said by him." When asked what SNL will do without Pardo, Michaels said: "I don't know what I'll do. It won't be the first time I've thought of it, and I've never had an answer."

Earlier in [...]

Here's Elaine Stritch Yelling at Her Pool Boy David Letterman in a Classic Clip

In honor of the passing of Broadway great Elaine Stritch, CBS's Late Show uploaded these super funny segments from a 1996 episode in which Stritch sporadically interrupted the show to scream at her pool boy, David Letterman.

Standup John Pinette Dies at 50

Standup comedian John Pinette tragically passed away this weekend at the age of 50, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Pinette was found dead Saturday afternoon in a Pittsburgh hotel room, where he had been staying for a family function. His death was due to natural causes, as he had been suffering from liver and heart disease. Pinette, whose weight was often the subject of his self-deprecating standup, had recently lost 200 pounds due to a weight loss regimen.

John Pinette began doing standup in the 1980s and was also known for his work as an impressionist and actor. He performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and released multiple [...]

Chicago Comedy and Theater Great Sheldon Patinkin Dies at 79

The Chicago theater and comedy community lost a big name yesterday with the news that Sheldon Patinkin, who mentored countless performers and directors and was an icon of the Second City community, died at age 79. Patinkin worked as the chair of Columbia College Chicago's theater department and as an artistic consultant at both Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre. He is regarded as a beloved mentor, teacher, and pioneer of the city's improvisational community for over 50 years and also chronicled the history of Second City in the 2000 book Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater. Here's an official statement from Second City [...]

Joan Rivers Dies at 81

Legendary comedian Joan Rivers has died at 81. According to Variety, the host of E!'s Fashion Police passed away this afternoon after going into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure yesterday. Rivers was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital after a surgery on her vocal cords resulted in breathing complications last week, and she was put in a medically-induced coma two days ago. Here's the official statement from her daughter Melissa:

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of [...]

Trying to Know Robin Williams

Robin was a part of my life from the very beginning.

I was born just after my father made Dead Poets Society, and Robin became a close friend of my parents. I slept in his daughter Zelda's crib as a baby, and went with his family to Disneyland for the first time when I was not even a toddler. I remember him in short swaths — short bullet points along the timeline of my life. Time with him was often sparse, and moreso as I got older. But he was always a part of it. When I went over to my mother's apartment tonight, and she embraced me, sobbing [...]

Chicago Comedian Dan Ronan Passed Away on Friday

Chicago-based comedian Dan Ronan passed away Friday at the tragically young age of 24. Ronan, who began doing comedy at 15, was a writer/performer for The Late Live Show and a regular at The Lincoln Lodge and other spots around the Chicago comedy scene. Ronan struggled with substance addiction and relapsed after briefly moving to Los Angeles last year before returning to Chicago to be closer to family.

Here's a bit from Late Live Show co-host Joe McAdam's heartfelt post about Ronan's life:

Dan created some of my favorite comedy I’ve ever witnessed. He was truly inspired and I’m really lucky that I got to work with him. His mind [...]