Little-Known Comedians Who Made a Huge Impact on Today’s Comedy

Welcome to the Cracked newsletter!

This issue is about Shane Gillis and Lorne Michaels, trivia, paranormal stories, and great cliffhangers in movies.

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Like Jack Twist making a mournful confession to Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, Lorne Michaels just can’t quit comedian Shane Gillis. Despite firing Gillis from the cast of Saturday Night Live before he could make his first homophobic joke on the 30 Rock stage, Michaels has continued to buy stock in the Gillis business, announcing the once-banished comic as Season 49’s next host.

A quick recap: Gillis, along with Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman, was announced as a new SNL cast member back in 2019. Cue the flurry of social media posts sharing clips of Gillis podcast appearances making homophobic slurs (he called Chris Gethard and Judd Apatow “white f----t comics”) and spitting on Chinatown (“Let the fucking c----s live there”).

Somebody explain to me why some comedy legends — Bob Newhart, George Carlin, Joan Rivers — continue to hold our esteem while others, like the comics discussed below, fade into obscurity. Each of the comedic minds on this list contributed mightily to the humor landscape, but their names haven’t stayed on the tips of our tongues. Here are four comic acts that were as influential as they were funny…