David Steinberg on April 22, 2009
August 9, 1942|
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Medium||stand-up, television, film, books|
|Genres||Observational comedy, Satire|
|Subject(s)||religion, self-deprecation, everyday life|
Judy (Marcione) Steinberg (1973–97; divorced)|
Robyn (Todd) Steinberg (2005–present)
David Steinberg (born August 9, 1942) is a Canadian comedian, actor, writer, director, and author. At the height of his popularity, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was one of the best-known comics in the United States. He appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson more than 130 times (second only to Bob Hope in number of appearances) and served as guest host 12 times, the youngest person ever to guest-host. Steinberg directed several films and episodes of television situation comedies, including Seinfeld, Friends, Mad About You, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Designing Women.
Born the son of Yasha, a strict, Romanian-born rabbi, and Ruth Steinberg in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, David initially studied theology in Israel. Later, while studying English Literature at the University of Chicago, he decided to become a comedian after seeing Lenny Bruce perform. He finished school and was discovered by one of the founders of The Second City in Chicago, which he joined in 1964. There he performed with Robert Klein, Fred Willard, Peter Boyle, and Joe Flaherty. He remained with the group for six years. In 1972, Steinberg was best man at the wedding of his friend, the gangster Crazy Joe Gallo.
One of Steinberg's most notorious performances was in October 1968 on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, where he gave satirical sermons. The sketch caused CBS to receive a record number of complaints, and, as a result, the network instituted a policy of providing local stations with a closed-circuit telecast of each episode ahead of time so they could choose whether or not to air it. The Smothers Brothers were told by the network that they could have Steinberg on the show again on the condition that he would not repeat the sermons. Nevertheless, Tommy Smothers asked Steinberg to do it again, and he gave a sermon in which he said "The Old Testament scholars say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The Gentiles, the New Testament scholars say, 'Hold it, Jews, no.' They literally grabbed the Jews by the Old Testament." This incident contributed to the cancellation of the show. The Jonah sketch was never aired by CBS.
Steinberg was the most frequent host of the pop and rock music ABC television show, The Music Scene, 1969–1970. In 1972, Steinberg wrote and starred in The David Steinberg Show in the United States as a five-week summer replacement sketch comedy show. Around the same time, TV Guide labelled Steinberg "offbeat, racy, outrageous, and establishment-baiting – all of which makes him a particular favorite among the young and disenchanted."
In 1975 Steinberg hosted Noonday, a short-lived half-hour midday talk show on NBC.
In 1976, Steinberg returned to Canada to produce a second show called The David Steinberg Show. This series was a hybrid sitcom/variety show, modelled loosely on The Jack Benny Program in that the plots centred on the star (Steinberg) and his cast trying to put together another instalment of their variety show. Amongst the regular cast were future SCTV stars Joe Flaherty, John Candy, Dave Thomas, and Martin Short. SCTV's Andrea Martin also appeared on the show, but not as a regular. SCTV premiered the same week as The David Steinberg Show, and ran for 6 seasons; The David Steinberg Show lasted only one season.
Steinberg performed some notable stand-up comedy during the 1970s as well, including "The Incredible Shrinking God" (LP MCA 73013, 1968), which contains ten of his comedic sermons and mini-sermons recorded live during his stand-up routine at Second City. He was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2003.
More recently (2005–2007), Steinberg hosted Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg, an informal, interview-style show in which he talks with famous comedians and comic actors, for two seasons on TV Land in the U.S. The first season featured Mike Myers, Larry David, Jon Lovitz, Martin Short, Bob Newhart, and George Lopez. The second season featured Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr, Jon Stewart, Garry Shandling and Ray Romano. The program was filmed before an audience at UCLA.
His first book, The Book of David (ISBN 0743272323), was published in June 2007 by Simon & Schuster.
In 2010, he directed and produced the Canadian cable comedy series Living in Your Car.
The David Steinberg Show
The first iteration of The David Steinberg Show ran on CBS television in the United States for five weeks in the summer of 1972. This series was an hour-long sketch comedy show, in which Steinberg was the only regular. Other sketch roles were played by the two or three guest stars Steinberg would introduce each week.
Four years later, Steinberg starred in a comedy/variety series also called The David Steinberg Show, which was produced in Canada for the CTV Network and was seen in the US in syndication. This series was partly modelled on The Jack Benny Program, in that it was largely about the behind-the-scenes adventures of the cast of a variety show and their friends. Each episode included material from the "variety show" that was being produced, as well as backstage segments.
The series ran during 1976/77 television season, and lasted 26 episodes. The supporting cast featured a number of people who would go on to greater fame on SCTV, and many Steinberg cast members were, in fact, simultaneously working on the first season of SCTV, which debuted the same week as The David Steinberg Show. SCTV cast members doing "double duty" on Steinberg included Joe Flaherty, Dave Thomas and John Candy, with Candy actually doing "triple duty" as he was also a cast member on the CBC sitcom Coming Up Rosie during this period. Martin Short, also a Steinberg regular, would later become a cast member of SCTV, but not until 1982. (Amusingly, after he joined SCTV, Short would actually end up portraying Steinberg in an SCTV sketch.)
SCTV stalwart Andrea Martin also appeared in a few episodes of The David Steinberg Show, but not as a regular.
The cast of the 1976/77 edition of The David Steinberg Show included:
- David Steinberg as himself, the genial but beleaguered host of a variety show.
- Bill Saluga as Vinnie DeMilo and as Ray J. Johnson. Vinnie is the owner of the nearby "Hello Deli", and David's chief confidante. The cigar-chomping Ray J. Johnson, a separate character, occasionally drops by the show (but never the deli) to interrupt David's monologues with his own rambling observations.
- Trudy Young as Margie, the friendly Hello Deli waitress.
- John Candy as Spider Reichman, the wide-eyed, hippie-ish bandleader. Candy also provided the voice of Vinnie's cook, who is frequently heard in the offstage Hello Deli kitchen, but is never seen onscreen.
- Joe Flaherty as Kirk Dirkman, a deliveryman who rather improbably becomes a network executive overseeing David's show.
- Martin Short as Johnny Del Bravo, David's obnoxious, narcissistic, talent-free cousin who is the "featured singer" on the show.
- Dave Thomas as James MacGregor, the show's excitable Scottish security guard.
- Blue as Bambi Markowitz, David's ditzy, incompetent secretary/assistant.
Steinberg has been married twice. He married his first wife Judy in 1973 and they had two daughters. They divorced in 1997 after 24 years of marriage. Steinberg then married his second wife, Robyn Todd.
- The Incredible Shrinking God (UNI LP, UNI-73013, 1968)
- Disguised As A Normal Person (Elektra Records LP, EKS-74065, 1970).
- Booga, Booga' (Columbia LP, 1974)
- Goodbye to the '70s (Columbia LP, PC 33399, 1975)
Steinberg has received five Emmy Award nominations, winning two as one of the writers of Academy Awards programs in 1991 and 1992. He received a CableACE Award in 1992 for his stand up comedy Cats, Cops and Stuff. He has been nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award (for Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series) twice: first in 1991 for the Seinfeld episode, The Tape, and again in 1996 for the Mad About You episode, The Finale: Parts II and III, and has been nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award (2000) and a Gemini (2001), as well. His parody of the novel Ragtime won him a Playboy Humor Award. In 2003, he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
- "David Steinberg – Northern Stars". 2002. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- "David Steinberg Biography". Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- Book of David, Page 175
- Bianculli, David (December 1, 2009). Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour". Touchstone. ISBN 1-4391-0116-7.
- "David Steinberg Just Wants to Talk Comedy". CBSNews.com. March 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-11.
- "The Book of David: Paging Mr. Steinberg". npr.org. August 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
- "The David Steinberg Show at IMDb". Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- "Canada's Walk of Fame: David Steinberg: actor, comedian, director". 2003. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- "Sit Down with David Steinberg". Archived from the original on May 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-11.
- "Sit Down Comedy With David Steinberg (2007)". 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- "HBO Canada presents Living in Your Car, one man's karmic fall from the high life to the highway". Canada NewsWire, April 6, 2010.
- Brooks, Tim and Earle Marsh: The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-present, 8th edition, Ballantine Books, 2003
- Hicks, Wesseley: Unique David Steinberg Show, Ottawa Citizen, June 5, 1976.
- http://robyntodd.net/book_01.html Archived May 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Awards for David Steinberg. IMDb. Retrieved on 2007-07-07.
- David Steinberg at the Internet Movie Database
- The David Steinberg Show at the Internet Movie Database
- David Steinberg at the Internet Broadway Database
- David Steinberg at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- David Steinberg on National Public Radio
- Official David Steinberg site
- Interview, online from CBC Words at Large (audio)
- The David Steinberg Show at TV.com