Of “Make Me Laugh,” Bobby Van and The Unknown Comic

vanDear Incredible: When I was little my parents would let me stay up and watch “Make Me Laugh” every now and then. I heard that the show was cancelled when the host died of cancer. What happened to him, the show, and who was the Unknown Comic? – I Need to Know, Louisville

Dear INTK: Of all the inhuman punishments for parents to inflict on a poor, innocent child!

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“Make Me Laugh” was a syndicated series that ran from 1979-80, usually in a late-night slot. The object was to make a contestant laugh, and undertaking that task were such comedy heavyweights as Avery Schreiber, Bill Kirchenbauer and – ulp – Gallagher.

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The host was Bobby Van, seen above, and after the show went out of production he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He passed on in 1980 at the age of 51. The Unknown Comic, who performed with a paper bag over his head to highlight the hilarity, was Murray Langston, who was a semi-regular on this show and “The Gong Show.” He also played the U.C. in “The Gong Show Movie,” “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “Night Patrol,” a 1984 waste of film that Langston co-wrote. Chances are he’ll soon be appearing as the Unknown Comic in a bus station waiting room near you.

Oh — and here’s a scene from the show.

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