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15 Comedic Actors Who Appeared on Law & Order

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Actors and actresses known for their comedic work can often get boxed into that particular genre. Yet during its 20-year run, Law & Order never shied away from casting both established and up-and-coming comedians in dramatic parts. Here are 15 of them. 

1. Jim Gaffigan

Best known for his work as a stand-up comedian, Jim Gaffigan’s appearance during Law & Order's final season had him playing an adoptive father with a household full of children who ends up accused of killing his wife. The twist? The children all have special needs, a situation Gaffigan's character believes makes his family ripe for their own reality show. His deceased wife was apparently a bit less enthused about the idea. The episode was Gaffigan's second Law & Order appearance; he popped up in a 1998 episode, too (plus twice on SVU and once on Criminal Intent).

2. Anthony Anderson

Though his early attempts at stand-up comedy ended in failure, Anthony Anderson has gone on to build an eclectic acting resume made up of all kinds of roles in a variety of genres. Despite that work history, he is most often talked about for his comedic ventures on shows like All About the Andersons (his first starring sitcom), The Bernie Mac Show, and his Emmy-nominated role on Black-ish. Yet Anderson proved his dramatic chops with his role as Detective Kevin Bernard, the serious and sometimes-conservative partner of Detective Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto), in the series' final two seasons.

3. Samantha Bee

From 2003 to 2015, Samantha Bee has served as a correspondent for The Daily Show, where she conducted interviews at the Republican National Convention and offered a theatrical interpretation of Fox News' The Five. Somehow, Bee made time in her schedule to take her turn on the Law & Order guest star rotation. Playing a talk show host on a show eerily similar to The View, her character becomes part of a blackmailing scandal when one of her former female staffers threatens to reveal their affair ... then ends up dead. 

4. Chevy Chase

Between Saturday Night Live and comedy classics like Caddyshack, Fletch, and Vacation, Chevy Chase has been a household name since the mid-1970s. Though rumors of difficult behavior have plagued him for years, Chase was willing to play a man arrested for drunk driving who spirals into an anti-Semitic rant reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s unfortunate tirade in a 2006 episode.

5. Rob Corddry

Rob Corddry trained at Upright Citizens Brigade, worked as a correspondent for The Daily Show, and created and starred in Childrens Hospital all before taking on a dramatic role in a 2009 episode of Law & Order. He played the owner of a website that was partially responsible for the death of a fashion photographer after they published his personal information online. 

6. Michael Showalter

Wet Hot American Summer co-creator Michael Showalter appeared in two episodes of Law & Order: First, in 2000, as a forensics expert; then, in 2009, he played a sleazy reality TV producer looking to exploit the family of a fame-hungry man (played by the aforementioned Gaffigan).

7. Jerry Stiller

From his work as one half of the husband-and-wife comedy duo Stiller and Meara to his Emmy-nominated role as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, Jerry Stiller has been a major comedy force for years. But Stiller went outside the box when he guest starred on two episodes of Law & Order. First, in 1992, he played a lawyer defending a man of fratricide in the show's second season. Stiller's second appearance, which coincided with his time on Seinfeld, saw him playing another attorney—this time a real estate lawyer who is ill-equipped to defend his cousin of murder. 

8. Janeane Garofalo

After spending the bulk of the 1990s performing stand-up, starring in romantic comedies, and working on popular comedy series like Saturday Night Live and The Larry Sanders Show, it seemed like an unusual career move when Garofalo appeared in a two-episode Law & Order arc in 1997. As a movie producer in the show’s seventh season, she gets entangled in an investigation when the head of a major film studio is found decapitated.

9. J.B. Smoove

In the early days of his career, comedy was an after-hours thing for J.B. Smoove, who would perform in various clubs after work. Eventually he managed to attract the attention of some major network players and ended up writing for, and occasionally appearing on, shows like Saturday Night Live and Def Comedy Jam. Like a rite of passage for most New York actors, Smoove also guest starred on an episode of Law & Order playing the "criminal of the week" in 1998. 

10. Jason Jones

One year before his wife and fellow The Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee made her Law & Order debut, Jason Jones guest starred in two episodes of the show in 2009. Playing Len Pewls, an unsavory reporter, he first shows up in the episode "Promote This!" as the host of a talk show whose special episode on illegal immigration is seen on an iPhone by a group of jurors, which creates issues for the D.A. Jones showed up again a few months later as the same character, who is this time covering the story of a jewelry shop owner who killed a couple of would-be burglars.

11. Susie Essman

Susie Essman is probably most recognizable as the wife of Larry David’s manager Jeff on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But she’s been working as a stand-up comedian for more than 30 years. And over the past two decades, she has shown up on two episodes of Law & Order, plus additional guest spots on Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit. She first appeared in 1997, but her second appearance on the show in 2004 had her playing a member of New Jersey’s Organized Crime Task Force who gives Detectives Briscoe and Green the information they need to solve a murder that occurred at a popular mobster restaurant. 

12. Tony Hale

People started taking notice of Hale when he starred as the dim-witted Buster Bluth on Arrested Development. However, during Law & Order’s final season, Hale went the dramatic route to portray a desperate father willing to do anything to bring his daughter back into the country, after her mother moves her to Brazil.

13. Candice Bergen

The daughter of a famed ventriloquist, Candice Bergen stated that because of her good looks she never thought comedy was a possibility, even though she felt most at home in the genre. It wasn’t until she landed the title role in the series Murphy Brown—and won five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes for her work on the show—that Bergen was able to really come into her own. At the same time she was perfecting her comedic timing on shows like Sex and the City, Bergen decided to book a spot on the legendary NBC crime show in 2004, playing a judge presiding over a murder case who ends up having her life threatened. Bergen must have enjoyed her time on the Law & Order set, as she returned a year later to play the same character on a handful of episodes of Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

14. Lewis Black

Though most people recognize Black as a seasoned comedy veteran, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that he began performing stand-up. Black actually began his career as a playwright, then segued into acting, where one of his earliest roles was as a porn director with ties to a young actress who dies from an overdose. 

15. Donnell Rawlings

Often recognized for his work on Chappelle’s Show, Rawlings hadn't always wanted to go into comedy; he had served in the military and planned on becoming a police officer. But one night, while at a comedy club after work, he began heckling a comedian, and was dared to come up onstage. He never looked back. Rawlings began fine-tuning his natural ability at open mic nights, but eventually decided he wanted to focus on acting. While taking classes in New York, he booked a 1998 episode of Law & Order; it was his first on-screen credit.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Love Connection
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Between September 19, 1983 and July 1, 1994, Chuck Woolery—who had been the original host of Wheel of Fortune back in 1975—hosted the syndicated, technologically advanced dating show Love Connection. (The show was briefly revived in 1998-1999, with Pat Bullard as host.) The premise featured either a single man or single woman who would watch audition tapes of three potential mates discussing what they look for in a significant other, and then pick one for a date. The producers would foot the bill, shelling out $75 for the blind date, which wasn’t taped. The one rule was that between the end of the date and when the couple appeared on the show together, they were not allowed to communicate—so as not to spoil the next phase.

A couple of weeks after the date, the guest would sit with Woolery in front of a studio audience and tell everybody about the date. The audience would vote on the three contestants, and if the audience agreed with the guest’s choice, Love Connection would offer to pay for a second date.

The show became known for its candor: Couples would sometimes go into explicit detail about their dates or even insult one another’s looks. Sometimes the dates were successful enough to lead to marriage and babies, and the show was so popular that by 1992, the video library had accrued more than 30,000 tapes “of people spilling their guts in five-minutes snippets.”

In 2017, Fox rebooted Love Connection with Andy Cohen at the helm; the second season started airing in May. But here are a few things you might not have known about the dating series that started it all.

1. AN AD FOR A VIDEO DATING SERVICE INSPIRED THE SHOW.

According to a 1986 People Magazine article, the idea for Love Connection came about when creator Eric Lieber spied an ad for a video dating service and wanted to cash in on the “countless desperate singles out there,” as the article states. “Everyone thinks of himself as a great judge of character and likes to put in two cents,” Lieber said. “There’s a little yenta in all of us.”

2. CONTESTANTS WERE GIVEN SOMETHING CALLED A PALIO SCORE.

Staff members would interview potential contestants and rate them on a PALIO score, which stands for personality, appearance, lifestyle, intelligence, and occupation. Depending on the results, the staff would rank the potential guests as either selectors or selectees.

3. IN 1987, THE FIRST OF MANY LOVE CONNECTION BABIES WAS BORN.

John Schultz and Kathleen Van Diggelen met on a Love Connection date, which didn’t end up airing. “They said, ‘John, she’s so flat, if you can’t rip her up on the set, we can’t use you,’” he told People in 1988. “I said, ‘I can’t do that.’” However, they got married on an episode of Hollywood Squares. As the article stated, “Their son, Zachary, became the first baby born to a Love Connection-mated couple.”

4. IT LED TO OTHER DATING SHOWS, LIKE THE BACHELOR.

Mike Fleiss not only created The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but he’s also responsible for reviving Love Connection. “I always had a soft spot for that show,” Fleiss told the Los Angeles Times in 2017. He said he was friends with Lieber and that the show inspired him to “venture into the romance TV space.” “I remember it being simple and effective,” he said about the original Love Connection. “And I remember wanting to find out what happened on those dates, the he said-she said of it all. It was intriguing.”

5. A FUTURE ACTOR FROM THE SOPRANOS WAS A CONTESTANT.

Lou Martini Jr., then known as Louis Azzara, became a contestant on the show during the late 1980s. He and his date, Angela, hit it off so well that they couldn’t keep their hands off one another during the show. Martini famously talked about her “private parts,” and she referred to him as “the man of my dreams.” The relationship didn’t last long, though. “I had just moved to LA and was not ready to commit to anything long-term," Martini commented under the YouTube clip. "The show was pushing me to ask her to marry me on the show!" If Martini looks familiar it’s because he went on to play Anthony Infante, Johnny Sack’s brother-in-law, on four episodes of season six of The Sopranos.

6. BEFORE THE SHOW WENT OFF THE AIR, A LOT OF CONTESTANTS GOT MARRIED.

During the same Entertainment Weekly interview, the magazine asked Woolery what the show’s “love stats” were, and he responded with 29 marriages, eight engagements, and 15 children, which wasn’t bad considering 2120 episodes had aired during its entire run. “When you think that it’s someone in our office putting people together through questionnaires and tapes, it’s incredible that one couple got married, much less 29,” he said.

7. CHUCK WOOLERY WAS AGAINST FEATURING SAME SEX COUPLES.

In a 1993 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the interviewer asked him “Would you ever have gay couples on Love Connection?” Woolery said no. “You think it would work if a guy sat down and I said, ‘Well, so where did you meet and so and so?’ then I get to the end of the date and say, ‘Did you kiss?’ Give me a break,” he said. “Do you think America by and large is gonna identify with that? I don’t think that works at all.” What a difference a quarter-century makes. Andy Cohen, who is openly gay, asked Fox if it would be okay to feature gay singles on the new edition of Love Connection. Fox immediately agreed.

8. ERIC LIEBER LIKED THE SHOW’S “HONEST EMOTIONS.”

When asked about the show's winning formula, Lieber once said: “The show succeeds because we believe in honest emotions. And, admit it—we’re all a little voyeuristic and enjoy peeking into someone else’s life.”

9. IN LIVING COLOR DID A HILARIOUS PARODY OF THE SHOW.

In the first sketch during In Living Color's pilot—which aired April 15, 1990—Jim Carrey played Woolery in a Love Connection parody. Robin Givens (played by Kim Coles) went on a date with Mike Tyson (Keenan Ivory Wayans) and ended up marrying him during the date. (As we know from history, the real-life marriage didn’t go so well.) The audience had to vote for three men: Tyson, John Kennedy Jr., and, um, Donald Trump. Tyson won with 41 percent of the vote and Trump came in second with 34 percent.

10. A PSYCHOLOGIST THOUGHT THE SHOW HAD A “MAGICAL HOPEFULNESS” QUALITY.

In 1986, People Magazine interviewed psychologist and teacher Dr. Richard Buck about why people were attracted to Love Connection. “Combine the fantasy of finding the perfect person with the instant gratification of being on TV, and the two are a powerful lure,” he said. “There’s a magical hopefulness to the show.”

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New Doctor Who Cast and Crew Are Coming to San Diego Comic-Con
Steve Schofield, BBC Worldwide
Steve Schofield, BBC Worldwide

Though Doctor Who fans got a glimpse of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor in “Twice Upon a Time,” the iconic sci-fi series’s 2017 Christmas special, it will be a few more months until the first female Time Lord officially commandeers the TARDIS. While the new cast and crew have kept relatively mum on what to expect from the new season, which premieres in the fall, BBC America just announced that they’ll be gathering together in July to take part in their first-ever group panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

While Whittaker will be front and center on the panel, which will be hosted by Chris Hardwick, she’ll be joined by two of her three confirmed companions—Tosin Cole (who’ll play Ryan) and Mandip Gill (who’ll play Yasmin). Bradley Walsh, who is not confirmed to be in attendance, will play Whittaker’s main companion, Graham. Also joining the panel are executive producer Matt Strevens and writer-turned-showrunner Chris Chibnall, who has a long history with the series and with Whittaker (he’s the creator of Broadchurch, which saw former Doctor David Tennant star alongside new Doctor Whittaker).

“With this year’s highly-anticipated season packed full of action, adventure, humor and emotion, the panel will be the cast’s first-ever panel appearance ahead of Doctor Who premiering this fall on BBC AMERICA,” the network noted in a press release.

New faces both in front of and behind the cameras won’t be the only changes coming to the eleventh season of Doctor Who. Instead of 12 episodes, there will only be 10, though they will run slightly longer. While it’s not confirmed, it’s expected that the TARDIS will get a slight upgrade, too. But the most noticeable difference will be in the theme music: In February, the show’s longtime composer Murray Gold confirmed that he would not be returning for the new season. Which means that Whovians should prepare for a whole new look and sound.

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