The Official Unofficial Comedy Timeline of 2016

It was a big year for comedy news in 2016 with news both good and bad– the loss of some legends of comedy in the fields of television, film and stage, some endings, and new beginnings; there were some famous firsts, and some records broken and more than a handful of scandals and controversies.  Comedy news took over mainstream news a number of times.  We put together a timeline to highlight the big news stories about those in the comedy world.  Here’s to 2016, a big year for comedy with plenty of laughs and tears! Raise a glass, and get ready for a momentous 2017. Cheers! Scroll down below the graphic to see a text only version of the timeline.


January 5, 2016 – Bill Cosby’s attorney declares that the legendary comedian is blind. This would later be brought up as a reason why he shouldn’t stand trial.

January 6, 2016 – Netflix announces that Adam Sandler’s movie “The Ridiculous 6” has broken the record for the most watched film on the streaming service. Sandler’s Western comedy broke the streaming service’s record in just 30 days time.

January 10, 2016 – “The Martian” wins the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy, baffling several critics.

January 18, 2016 – A social media controversy explodes when Wendy Liebman, Kathleen Madigan and Tammy Pescatelli accuse Amy Schumer of stealing jokes on Twitter.

January 30, 2016 – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler present Carol Burnett with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award at the SAG Awards ceremony.

January 30, 2016 – Louis CK releases the first episode of his web series, “Horace and Pete” online on his site,

February 2, 2016 – Comedy legend Bob Elliott, one half of the comedy team Bob and Ray, passes away at age 92.

February 6, 2016 – In time for the Super Bowl, Jim Gaffigan takes over portraying KFC spokesman Colonel Sanders from Norm Macdonald, who took it over from Darrell Hammond.

February 12, 2016 – Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are featured in the historic first non-nude issue of Playboy.

February 28, 2016 – Chris Rock hosts the 88th annual Academy Awards, addressing the lack of diversity in the nominations in his Oscars monologue.

February 29, 2016 – Katt Williams arrested after allegedly hitting a swimming pool supply store employee in Georgia.

February 29, 2016 – The Golden Gate to Marin County Waldo Tunnel in California is officially renamed the Robin Williams Tunnel.

March 19, 2016 – Eddie Izzard completes 27 marathons in 27 days throughout South Africa, raising nearly $2 million for charity.

March 23, 2016 – Video footage is released of Katt Williams getting beat up after punching a teenager.

March 24, 2016 – The world loses comedy legend Garry Shandling. He was 66.

March 26, 2016 – At the Stress Factory in New Jersey, reported fights and walk-outs occur after Margaret Cho went on a rant about rape.

March 28, 2016 – Sarah Silverman endorses Bernie Sanders for President in a Facebook video.

March 30, 2016 – Anthony Cumia announces on his show that he is going into rehab.

March 31, 2016 – Beloved British comedy icon Ronnie Corbett dies at age 85.

April 5, 2016 – Amy Schumer slams Glamour Magazine on Instagram for including her in a spread of inspiring, plus-size women.

April 17, 2016 – Doris Roberts, best known as Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, passes away at age 90.

April 19, 2016 – Tracy Morgan cancels his show in Mississippi over a new state law allowing discrimination against the LGBT community.

April 27, 2016 – Katt Williams is arrested in Atlanta after throwing a salt shaker at the manager of a local restaurant.

April 29, 2016 – The trailer for Paul Feig’s reboot of “Ghostbusters” becomes the most disliked trailer in YouTube history.

April 30, 2016 – Larry Wilmore causes media outrage as host of the White House Correspondents’ dinner when he referred to President Obama as “Barry…my nigga.”

May 5, 2016 – In a blast from the 90s, Arsenio Hall sues Sinead O’Connor over allegations he sold “hard drugs” to Prince.

May 6, 2016 – Ali Wong: Baby Cobra premieres on Netflix, making Ali the first comedian to shoot a special while 7 months pregnant.

May 9, 2016 – Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless steps down and is replaced by President of Original Programming Kent Alterman.

May 11, 2016 – Chelsea Handler’s jump to Netflix is complete with the debut of her new talk show “Chelsea”.

May 20, 2016 – Maria Bamford’s groundbreaking series “Lady Dynamite” premieres on Netflix.

May 21, 2016 – Ending his 6 year boycott because he was removed from a flight for being too heavy, Kevin Smith returns to flying Southwest Airlines.

May 24, 2016 – A judge rules that Bill Cosby will stand trial on criminal charges of allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.

June 3, 2016 – Johnny Depp’s estranged wife Amber Heard sues Doug Stanhope for a column he wrote for The Wrap defending his friend Depp against allegations he physically abused her.

June 14, 2016 – HBO announces that Larry David will return for a 9th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

June 15, 2016 – The Interrobang produces its first open-to-the-public comedy event with Comedy 101: Tell a Joke or Be a Joke at The Stand NYC.

June 25, 2016 – Legendary comedy club owner Mary Lindsey closes her iconic showroom, Jokes and Notes, in Chicago.

July 8, 2016 – Livenation opens the new Punch Line comedy club in Philadelphia’s Fishtown.

July 12, 2016 – Sebastian Maniscalco is named the Just For Laughs Stand-Up Comedian of the Year and Aziz Ansari is named JFL Comedy Person of the Year.

July 15, 2016 – Ghostbusters opens nationwide. Despite a negative reception on social media because of its all female casting, Ghostbusters becomes the top grossing non-animated comedy movie of 2016.

July 18, 2016 – Jon Stewart returns to late night television, joining Stephen Colbert’s live coverage of the Republican National Convention.

July 19, 2016 – Famed comedy director Garry K. Marshall dies at age 81.

August 6, 2016 – Celoron, NY finally gets a new statue of hometown comedy great Lucille Ball, replacing a hideous statue dubbed “Scary Lucy”.

August 7, 2016 – Leslie Jones’ Olympic coverage on Twitter is such a hit, NBC Olympic executive producer Jim Bell invites her to Rio as a special reporter.

August 9, 2016 – In a surprise announcement, Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah are both out at Saturday Night Live. One day later, featured player Jon Rudnitsky is fired from SNL by Lorne Michaels.

August 12, 2016 – Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider are promoted to co-head writers on Saturday Night Live.

August 15, 2016 – Comedy Central cancels The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore after 7 months on the air.

August 18, 2016 – Scott Aukerman announces on Twitter that Comedy Bang! Bang! is ending after 5 seasons.

August 19, 2016 – Jack Riley, comedic actor in dozens of movies and TV series, including The Bob Newhart Show dies at age 80.

August 22, 2016 – After only two seasons, TV Land and Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan mutually agree to end The Jim Gaffigan Show.

August 24, 2016 – Leslie Jones’ website and phone are hacked and personal information as well as nude photos of the SNL star are posted online.

August 29, 2016 – Comedy film icon Gene Wilder passes away at age 83.

September 7, 2016 – Rob Riggle becomes the 4th comedian to portray KFC’s Colonel Sanders in commercials.

September 9, 2016 – FX cancels Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll after 2 seasons.

September 12, 2016 – Saturday Night Live announces new cast members Mikey Day, Melissa Villaseñor and Alex Moffat for Season 42.

September 14, 2016 – South Park returns for its 20 season taking on issues including Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest and the Presidential election.

September 18, 2016 – Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 68th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Comedy winners include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jeffrey Tambor, Louie Anderson, Kate McKinnon, Patton Oswalt and Veep.

September 22, 2016 – The final broadcast of the Opie with Jim Norton show on SiriusXM before Opie moves to afternoons and Norton takes a morning slot with Sam Roberts.

September 28, 2016 – Kevin Hart knocks Jerry Seinfeld from his 10 year long #1 spot on Forbes Highest Paid Comedians list.

October 1, 2016 – Alec Baldwin unveils his Donald Trump impression on the Season 42 premiere of Saturday Night Live.

October 10, 2016 – Nick Kroll and John Mulaney have their Broadway opening as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland in Oh, Hello.

October 13, 2016 – Chris Gethard’s one-man off-Broadway show, Career Suicide, opens.

October 14, 2016 – Chris Rock signs a reported $40 million deal to do two comedy specials for Netflix.

October 16, 2016 – The Simpsons, the longest-running American scripted prime time TV series, celebrates its 600th episode.

October 16, 2016 – About 200 people walk out of an Amy Schumer stand up show in Tampa protesting her jokes about Republican nominee Donald Trump.

October 21,2016 – Beloved comedian Kevin Meaney dies. He was 60.

October 23, 2016 – Bill Murray receives the country’s highest comedy honor, The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

November 3, 2016 – After honing a new hour, Patton Oswalt returns to the stand up stage at the New York Comedy Festival, 6 months after his wife’s death.

November 6, 2016 – Robert De Niro wins the Hollywood Comedy Award at the Hollywood Film Awards ceremony, for his work in The Comedian, which won’t be released until next January.

November 12, 2016 – The SNL episode hosted by Dave Chappelle was not only a season high in the ratings, it was the highest rated Saturday Night Live since 2013.

November 12, 2016 – Wanda Sykes is booed at the 22nd annual Comics Come Home benefit for her anti-Trump comedy while co-performer Nick DiPaolo took online heat for his pro-Trump stance.

November 21, 2016 – Dave Chappelle makes a reported $60 million deal with Netflix to stream one new comedy special and two previously-recorded unseen ones.

November 22, 2016 – James Corden is announced as the host of the 59th annual Grammy Awards, becoming the first comedian to host since 2002.

November 22, 2016 – In its year end list, Forbes announces that Andy Samberg’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was the biggest comedy film flop of 2016.

November 24, 2016 – Adored sitcom mom, The Brady Bunch’s Florence Henderson dies at age 82.

December 1, 2016 – Comedy loses iconic Toronto favorite Jo-Anna Downey AKA Mama after her long battle with ALS.

December 6, 2016 – For the first time in history, three women have been nominated for the Grammys’ Best Comedy Album Award. The nominees include Amy Schumer, Tig Notaro and Margaret Cho.

December 31, 2016 – Seth Meyers hosts his first Late Night New Year’s Eve Special on NBC.

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