Al Boasberg

Al Boasberg (December 5, 1891[1] June 18, 1937) was an American comedy writer in vaudeville, radio, and film, as well as being a film director.

Al Boasberg
Born(1891-12-05)December 5, 1891
DiedJune 18, 1937(1937-06-18) (aged 44)
Film director
Years active1926-1937


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.[2]

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.

He died in Los Angeles, California, in 1937 from a heart attack. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. Al Boasberg was the uncle of James Michaels.

In 2009, The Al Boasberg Comedy Award was established by The Buffalo International Film Festival.[3]

Selected filmography


  1. Al Boasberg Birth Certificate.
  2. Vosburgh, Dick, "Obituary: Sid Kuller", The Independent (People), London, October 31, 1993.
  3. The Al Boasberg Comedy Award: The Boasberg Archived December 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  • Rickmann, Gregg (2004). The Film Comedy Reader. New York: Limelight Editions. ISBN 978-0-87910-295-1.
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