|Died||June 18, 1937 44) (aged|
Boasberg was born in Buffalo, New York in a Jewish family. He is credited with helping to create American stand-up comedy when he teamed with then-youthful vaudeville performer Jack Benny, helping develop Benny's familiar, reactive skinflint and thus helping make Benny a major star when he transitioned to radio in 1932. In fact, on the last day before his death, Boasberg wrote the lines that introduced the enduring Rochester character on Benny's radio show.
Similarly, Boasberg defined the enduring personalities of Bob Hope, Burns and Allen, Wheeler and Woolsey and Leon Errol. He was one of the early "script doctors", earning $1,000 a week to punch up radio scripts.
Boasberg also wrote for 47 films between 1926 and 1937—especially 1935's A Night at the Opera, which provided The Marx Brothers with a commercial comeback on the screen. Another Marxian, the comedy producer Sid Kuller, started out as a ghost-gag-writer for Boasberg.
Boasberg's other film writing credits included The General (starring Buster Keaton, who also advised on A Night at the Opera). He also directed 12 films between 1929 and 1936. A disagreement over screenwriting credit led to Boasberg's name being removed from the Marx Brothers second MGM film A Day at the Races (1937), which was his original project.
In 2009, The Al Boasberg Comedy Award was established by The Buffalo International Film Festival.
- Rickmann, Gregg (2004). The Film Comedy Reader. New York: Limelight Editions. ISBN 978-0-87910-295-1.