During the late 70’s, a game show called “Make Me Laugh” became a syndicated television hit. To win cash, contestants had to sit stone-faced as three comedians tried, as the title indicates, to make them laugh. If a player cracked up or broke down in hysterics, the game was over.
“Make Me Laugh” gave several up-and-coming comedians a chance to strut their stuff. The comics were, unfortunately, limited to one minute with each contestant and, if a laugh interrupted their routine, they had to leave the stage. The 1970’s and 80’s may have witnessed the rise of Steve Martin and Robin Williams, but television also saw the birth of other hardworking comedians:
Bruce “Babyman” Baum: Multi-talented Bruce Baum definitely was a fan favorite on “Make Me Laugh.” A prop-oriented comedian, Baum would routinely strip down to a diaper to become “Babyman,” his outrageous superhero alter ego. Typically, when Baum appeared in his oversized diaper on “Make Me Laugh,” both the contestants and the audience lost control.
With his gift for parody, Baum also has released spoofs of popular songs, in particular “Marty Feldman Eyes.” Named in honor of the famous bug-eyed actor, this song pokes fun at Kim Carnes’ hit single “Bette Davis Eyes.” Still active in comedy, Baum released the parody video “Don’t You Wish Your Boyfriend Was Bald Like Me?”
Gary Mule Deer: A frequent guest on “Make Me Laugh,” Gary Mule Deer is a comedian who, like Baum, can blend music with the jokes. Mule Deer was equally at home opening for big name musical acts like Hall and Oates or doing his stand-up act.
Dennis Wolfberg: Though he passed away in 1994, Dennis Wolfberg left a lasting legacy in both comedy and science fiction. Wolfberg was a rising comedy star in the 1980’s when he took the recurring role of “Gooshie” on “Quantum Leap.” His character, known for his scientific knowledge and toxic bad breath, became a fan favorite in later seasons. As “Quantum Leap” ended its television run on NBC, Wolfberg was poised to break out until cancer cut his career and his life short.
Tim Reid: Best known for his work on “WKRP in Cincinnati,” actor Tim Reid actually broke into show business by teaming up with Tom Dreesen for an integrated stand-up comedy act. In the early 1970’s, a time when racial tensions were running high, Reid and Dreesen broke down several barriers in the comedy world. Fans may recognize Reid as Venus Flytrap from “WKRP” or the proprietor of the critically-acclaimed “Frank’s Place,” but many people consider Reid’s stand-up comedy to be his best work.
Jim Carrey: An actor known for such diverse films as “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Truman Show,” Jim Carrey started out as young stand-up comedian in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Although he had a rough couple of years on the way up, Carrey landed the lead role on “The Duck Factory,” a 1984 sitcom that lasted for only 13 episodes.
Carrey continued to make his mark in movies, especially the vampire comedy “Once Bitten” and the bittersweet “Peggy Sue Got Married.” The 1990’s turned Carrey into a superstar, though, starting with the comedy/variety series “In Living Color” and continuing on through “The Mask” and other blockbuster hits. Still, Carrey has a talent for drama, most notably a serious turn in the made-for-TV movie “Doing Time on Maple Drive” and the 2001 big screen drama “The Majestic.”