Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Passing of Saint John

My Fellow Comedists,

This week was the 30th anniversary of the passing of John Belushi.  Hard to believe it was that long ago.  He was to comedy what Hunter S. Thompson was to journalism.  The 60s saw an institutionalization of radical comedy with Pryor and Carlin, something that started the generation before with Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory.  But with Belushi and gang in the 70s, it turned into something completely different, something that did not just challenge social norms, but was itself completely out of control.  Belushi wasn't a shock comic, that takes cold calculation, he was a passion comic swept up in his art letting it not only come from him but over him.

He was born in Chicago to first-generation Albanian-Americans in Chicago, growing up just outside the city. In high-school, he was a model student and star middle linebacker and captain of the football team. He had intended to become a football coach, but appearing in school variety shows, he caught the drama bug. He went to college to major in drama, but after a bout of freshmanitis, transferred to a junior college in the Chicago-area.

He found himself preferring comic roles to the serious ones he had been playing and started an improv troupe in Chicago. When it got some notice, he earned an invitation to join THE improv troupe in Chicago. His time at Second City led him to work with some of those who would help him fill out that cohort of comedic geniuses.

His Joe Cocker impression, later made famous on Saturday Night Live, got him a spot in a National Lampoon stage show, "Lemmings," that spoofed Woodstock. It got him in the door with National Lampoon and he became part of their radio troupe, ultimately taking over as director. Here, he worked with many of those who would become the "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" when they made the move to television with Saturday Night Live.

So, what is the greatest Belushi bit?  Man, tough call.  A couple of classics:

Watch John Belushi - Ludwig van Beethoven Part 2 in Comedy  |  View More Free Videos Online at

So, best Belushi bit ever?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve