Joe Flaherty (born June 21, 1941) is a American actor and comedian. He is best known for his work on the Canadian sketch comedy SCTV from 1976 to 1984 (on which he also served as a writer), and as Harold Weir on Freaks and Geeks.
Flaherty was born Joseph O'Flaherty in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but moved to Chicago where he started his comedy career with the Second City Theater as Joe O'Flaherty. Along with several other Second City performers, he began appearing on the National Lampoon Radio Hour from 1973 to 1974. After seven years in Chicago, he moved to Toronto to help establish the Toronto Second City theatre troupe. During those years, he was one of the original writer/performers on SCTV, where he spent eight years on the show, playing such characters as Big Jim McBob (of Farm Film Report fame), Count Floyd/Floyd Robertson, and station owner/manager Guy Caballero who goes around in a wheelchair simply for respect.
Other memorable Flaherty characterizations included emotional talk show host Sammy Maudlin, seedy saxophonist-private eye Vic Arpeggio, aggressive elocution lecturer Norman Gorman, myopic public television host Hugh Betcha and "crazy as a snake" ex-convict Rocco.
SCTV ceased production in 1984.
Throughout his film career, Flaherty has appeared in a number of cult favorites, for example, playing the part of the Western Union postal worker who delivers Doc Brown's 70-year-old letter to Marty McFly in 1989's Back to the Future Part II, as well as the crazed fan yelling "jackass!" in Happy Gilmore. In season 8 of Family Guy, Joe once again played the Western Union man in "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side". He likewise satirizes his Back to the Future Part II character in "The Big Bang Theory", this time playing a Vatican worker whose role is essentially identical to that of his Western Union character.
In 1989, Flaherty played a guest role in Married... with Children in episode 4.04, "Tooth or Consequences", as a recently divorced dentist who must repair Al Bundy's teeth.
Between 1997-1998, Flaherty starred in the TV adaptation of The Police Academy (Police Academy: The Series) as Cmdt. Stuart Hefilfinger. The series lasted for only one season.
In 1999, Flaherty joined the cast of Freaks and Geeks, an NBC hour-long dramedy set in 1980-1981 academic year, in which he played Harold Weir, the irascible father of two teens. Despite a dedicated cult following, the show only lasted one season. In the third episode, "Tricks and Treats", he dons a cheap vampire costume reminiscent of his "Count Floyd" character of the depicted era.
He made appearances on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens as Father McAndrew, priest at the Heffernans' church. He currently stars on the Bite TV original program called Uncle Joe's Cartoon Playhouse, and serves as a judge on the CBC program Second City's: Next Comedy Legend.
As of 2004, Flaherty is a member of the faculty at Humber College, where he teaches a comedy writing course. He is also on the program's Advisory Committee. He is an accomplished pianist.
Flaherty's brothers are comedy writers David and Paul Flaherty (the latter being a writer on SCTV).
He currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He has a daughter and a son: Gudrun Flaherty and Gabriel Flaherty.
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