29 years ago tonight, on Saturday, January 30, 1982 “The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour” premiered at 10:00pm on NBC.
Although crystal is the traditional gift for a 15th wedding anniversary, this Crystal didn’t even make it to 15 weeks. “The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour” was canceled after just five broadcasts.
Like “Late Night with David Letterman,” which would premiere on NBC two nights later, “The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour” was Executive Produced by Jack Rollins, who managed both comedians at the time.
Unlike “Late Night with David Letterman” Crystal’s show would not last three decades.
“The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour” was a traditional variety show with Crystal heading a group of comic performers and welcoming guest stars each week… but for just 5 weeks.
Of course, Billy Crystal has gone on to many great successes in the years since “The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour” was canceled. In addition to one breakout season on “Saturday Night Live” (1984-85), he starred in several classic films, several lousy films, and he became “Mr. Oscar” by hosting the Academy Awards eight times, more than any other host since Bob Hope.
Back in 1979, when I saw Billy Crystal perform at my college (his alma mater), my ticket cost me just $3.50. Some 25 years later, when I saw him perform some of the same material on Broadway, in “700 Sundays,” my ticket cost me an additional one- hundred dollars. As Crystal’s Buddy Young Jr. might have said, ‘I hope he gets a tumor in his eye.’
Billy Crystal, who has been a successful stand-up comedian, impressionist, writer, actor, producer, director, host, philanthropist, and Yankees fan, premiered a short-lived variety show on this date in TV history. It may not have played out as he would have liked, but in a career full of triumphs and awards, it is just a blip.