Preserve, Educate, Celebrate

Comedy Hall of Fame

The Comedy Hall of Fame is a conservancy and production company established to honor comedy's rich history with the goal of institutionalizing comedy as one of the performance arts. Through Archive interviews, live symposium at Museum of Moving Image, programs for public television, and improv classes and workshops in public schools, we showcase comedy's power to communicate, educate and act as a catalyst for social change.
In a time where we need comedy more than ever, we sadly say goodbye to founding voices in our archives…

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BOB NEWHART (1929-2024)

A grandmaster of 20th century comedy and one of the greatest American comedians of all time, Bob Newhart passed away on Thursday, July 18th, 2024. An unassuming, classically midwestern “everyman,” he possessed spectacular timing, brilliant subtlety, and fantastic writing prowess, forging an important stage presence in American comedy. 

Incredibly popular, his hit programs brought in the era of the “adult sitcom,” capturing the Yin and Yang of 20th century American life. The fabric of his work was the very essence of Americana.

Never working blue, his subtlety spoke volumes in an era of impassioned change. His comedy was a forebearer to modern observational comedy, and he ushered in the second era of American comedic culture just as Lucille Ball did during the first Golden Age. 

He was a great friend to the Hall and we were lucky to have him sit for our Archives and participate in our new series On the Language of Comedy, alongside Conan O’Brien and Bill Hader.

He was beloved and endearing and we will sorely miss him, as he brought joy and laughter to the world across his 65 year long career.

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RICHARD LEWIS (1947-2024)

The purest comedian we’ve met in 150 interviews, Richard Lewis was absolutely the same person both on and off stage. His understanding of comedy was vast. To him, comedians were born and could not be made. His genius was capturing the moment at the very precipice of the unbridled, self conscious id, and being able to communicate that moment to his audience. A direct descendent of David Brenner and one of the deans of the New York School; his stagecraft set the bar for comedy in his era.

Mr. Lewis was critical to the development of the Hall as an early proponent of our Archives and the concept of an oral history. He was responsible for getting a number of comedians to come into our fold, including Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, and David Brenner.

He was one of comedy’s great standard bearers; before there was Seinfeld, there was Lewis. He will be dearly missed.

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NORMAN LEAR (1922-2023)

Director, producer, writer, social satirist, and political activist, Norman Lear created some of the most important and influential comedic programming in the medium of television. In 1999, the National Medal of Arts was awarded to Mr. Lear, and President Clinton characterized his contribution by saying, “He held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.” Volumes have been written about the profound effect has had on the culture, but perhaps his most critical impact is on the history of comedy. The precise interval at which comedy in the mass medium of television moved from entertainment to social commentary was architected by Mr. Lear. His incredible body of programming created a sea change that moved the culture forward to a deeper understanding of the political and social realities of modern American life.

A longtime friend of the Hall, Norman Lear sat for the Comedy Hall of Fame Archives twice and participated in our Iconic Characters program at the Museum of the Moving Image, helping to establish the first comedy programming in the American museum system. His power will continue to live on in the present, communicating the important values that define the American experience.

Click the link below to see some of Mr. Lear's work with The Comedy Hall of Fame:

GINNIE NEWHART (1940-2023)

Ginnie Newhart, beloved wife of 60 years to Bob Newhart, passed away Sunday, April 25th, 2023. His comedic alter ego and muse, she was present for every phase of her husband’s career. Ginnie is credited with creating the iconic 1990 “Newhart” finale, which cleverly calls back to Bob’s 1972-1978 sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show.” This innovation is just one testament to her creativity and importance to the comedic field, as she both encouraged and inspired Bob. She will be dearly missed. 


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AL JAFFEE (1921-2023)

Al Jaffee was a gentle, brilliant soul, a spectacular innovator with the most organic understanding of comedy, and a founding father of Mad Magazine.  Interviewed by the Comedy Hall of Fame in 2022, his 101st year, he brilliantly laid out his most important tenant of comedy: make fun of concepts and ideas, never people. Included is the clip of his ah-ha moment, when he invented Mad Magazine's most significant innovation— the fold in. His comedy will continue to live on.

Al Jaffee's Ah-Ha Minute


NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Actor/comedian Jerry Stiller attends the Comedy Hall Of Fame "An Evening With Stiller And Meara" at Museum of the Moving Image on March 10, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by George Napolitano/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jerry Stiller

JERRY STILLER (1927 - 2020)

Jerry Stiller, one of the founding voices in the Comedy Hall of Fame Archives, has sadly passed away. After decades of laughter, the Brooklyn native has given us years of gut-busting humor ranging from his role as the male counterpart of the stellar husband-and-wife comedy team "Stiller & Meara", Frank Costanza on Seinfeld and Arthur Spooner on The King of Queens.

Jerry leaves behind his son Ben Stiller and daughter Amy Stiller who both partake in the family business of comedy, making this family one of the most successful comedic dynasties in modern history. We are proud to forever recognize him in the Comedy Hall of Fame.

Fred Willard

FRED WILLARD (1931-2020)

Fred Willard, the comedic actor known for his roles in movies including "Best in Show" and "This is Spinal Tap" and TV sitcoms "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Modern Family," has passed away at the age of 86.


The Comedy Hall of Fame preserves the rich history of comedy through the Archives, a virtual oral history of the last 100 years. The Archive serves as a platform for comedians, as artists, to define the art of comedy.


The Comedy Hall of Fame Foundation educates through Laugh it Out Improv: programs that use comedy in the classroom to engage students. Through Improv, Laugh it Out teaches students to listen, collaborate and innovate; increases self esteem and builds community, all while having fun.


The Comedy Hall of Fame and The Comedy Hall of Fame Foundation celebrate comedy through programs at Museum of the Moving Image and full length documentaries for public television.