Toronto's most inspiring people of 2016: Mark Breslin on Lorne Michaels

His inspiring 2016: Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Lorne Michaels had a very good year. His Saturday Night Live crew shined during the recent American election, bringing Alec Baldwin in to parody Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon as a hilarious Hillary Clinton.

Michaels was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, alongside the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks and fellow Toronto native Frank Gehry. Not bad for a kid from North York.

I think he easily deserves recognition as Torontonian of the Year. If you had to choose the most influential person in comedy living today, that person would have to be Toronto’s Lorne Michaels.

In 1975 he created Saturday Night Live for NBC. No one expected much, but the weekly satire show became the most important vehicle for comedy in the last 50 years. To last a decade on TV is a rarity, to last over 40 years is nothing short of miraculous.

The list of stars he has created is without peer: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Norm Macdonald, David Spade, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and so many more. He gave a voice to boomers before they were boomers.

As if that weren’t enough, he executive produced 30 Rock — a behind-the-scenes TV series about a sketch comedy show — which lasted seven seasons. He discovered Conan O’Brien. And then, when NBC dithered about who could helm The Tonight Show after Jay Leno, he stepped forward to produce it and chose Jimmy Fallon as the host.

And he shows no signs of slowing down.

Mark Breslin is the founder of Yuk Yuk's and Post City's humour columnist. This is the twelfth story in our multi-part series on the most inspiring Torontonians of 2016. Number eleven featured Daniel Nestor on tennis phenom Denis Shapovalov.

The full index of our stories about Toronto's most inspiring people of 2016.

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