American comedian and actor Joe Piscopo is most famous for his work on the popular sketch comedy series “Saturday Night Live” (1980 to 1984). The show brought him Emmy nominations for his performance and writing. Piscopo also netted a CableACE Award thanks to his work on the HBO comedy special “The Joe Piscopo Special” (1985). After leaving “SNL,” the New Jersey native appeared in various movie and television programs. His film credits include “Johnny Dangerously” (1984), “Wise Guys” (1986), “Sidekicks” (1992), “Bartleby” (2001), “Dead Lenny” (2006) and “Spring Break '83” (2011). He has also guest starred in episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Arli$$” and “Law & Order” and lent his voice to the animated television series “100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd” and “Batman.”
Piscopo currently lives in Lebanon Township, New Jersey, and is a fan of the New Jersey Devils. He has four children and is separated from his second wife, Kimberly Driscoll.
Piscopo is good friends with actor and fellow comedian Eddie Murphy. The two became close when they starred in “Saturday Night Live.” In 1982, Murphy purchased a home in Piscopo's neighborhood. Commenting about his relationship with Murphy, he said, “Eddie could keep a secret no matter what. He was the first person I went to when I was sick.”
In the 1990s, Piscopo was treated for thyroid cancer.
Father of 4
Childhood and Family:
Joseph Charles John Piscopo, who would later be popular as Joe Piscopo, was born on June 17, 1951, in Passaic, New Jersey. He attended West Essex High School in Caldwell, New Jersey, and joined the drama club. After graduating high school in 1960, he went to Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida. Joe was encouraged by his family to follow in the footsteps of his father (a lawyer) but he instead pursued his love for comedy.
Joe Piscopo was married to producer Nancy Jones from 1973 to 1988. The marriage produced a son named Joey Piscopo (born 1979). In summer 1994, Joe became engaged to Kimberly Driscoll. The couple married in April 1997 and had three children together, son Michael Piscopo and daughters Alexandra Claudette Piscopo (born February 26, 1999) and Olivia Piscopo (born November 29, 2004). His wife filed for divorce on July 10, 2006.
Joe Piscopo began his career as a standup comedian in the late 1970s. Along with Dan Resin, Frank Nastasi and Nola Fairbanks, among other performers, he joined the cast of the short lived sketch comedy series “Madhouse Brigade,” which aired between 1978 and 1979. During this period, he also performed in regional and improvisational theater.
In 1980, Piscopo was cast on the NBC sketch comedy series “Saturday Night Live.” While on the show, Piscopo and Eddie Murphy became good friends. In 1984, the series received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program and Piscopo picked up an additional nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. During his four years on “SNL,” Piscopo impressed audiences with his impersonations of celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro and David Letterman, to name a few, and original reoccurring characters. It was also while on “Saturday Night Live” that Piscopo branched out into the world of recording with the single “The Honeymooners Rap,” where he impersonated Jackie Gleason as the character Ralph Kramden from “The Honeymooners.” The single was included on his 1985 comedy album “New Jersey.”
In 1984, Piscopo wrote, executive produced and starred on a HBO special called “The Joe Piscopo Special,” which earned him a CableACE award for his performance. He would go on to write the specials “The Joe Piscopo New Jersey Special” (1986) and “Joe Piscopo Live” (1988).
After an unbilled appearance in the John Guillermin directed “King Kong” (1976), Piscopo made his major motion picture debut as the villain Danny Vermin on “Johnny Dangerously” (1984), a successful comedy directed by Amy Heckerling that starred Michael Keaton. The same year, Piscopo also portrayed Dr. Fishberg in the film adaptation of “The House of God,” but it was never released although it has been shown on HBO a few times.
After appearing in an episode of “George Burns Comedy Week” called “Death Benefits” (1985), Piscopo enjoyed his next success on the big screen with the Brian De Palma helmed “Wise Guys” (1986), in which he was paired with Danny DeVito to star as two small time mobsters. The film gained good reviews from critics. The same year, he also appeared in the music video “Stick Around,” by John Lennon, and in print ads for Lite Beer from Miller. Two years later, Piscopo starred as Detective Doug Bigelow, opposite Treat Williams as Roger Mortis, in Mark Goldblatt's “Dead Heat,” which was nominated for an International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film at the 1990 Fantasporto. He then guest starred in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” named “The Outrageous Okona.”
In 1992, Piscopo was cast in “Sidekicks,” which starred Jonathan Brandis and Chuck Norris. Directed by Aaron Norris, the action film was met with a mixed reception from audiences and critics. Piscopo followed it up with a supporting role in the 1994 adventure film “Huck and the King of Hearts,” starring Chauncey Leopardi, Graham Greene and Dee Wallace. Between 1993 and 1994, he contributed his voice to the “The Pink Panther” episode “Pilgrim Panther/That Old Pink Magic” (1993) and two episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series” called “Read My Lips” (1993) and “Make 'Em Laugh” (1994).
1995 saw Piscopo star with Dennis Weaver and Lauren Eckstrom in Corey Michael Eubanks's “Two Bits & Pepper” and portray Mr. Wareman in Charles Gale's film “Captain Nuke and the Bomber Boys,” opposite Joe Mantegna, Martin Sheen and Joanna Pacula. He was also cast as Hamlet in Robert Wuhl's “Open Season.” In January 1996, Piscopo landed the role of disc jockey Vince Fontaine on the Broadway revival of “Grease.” He went on to reprise the role in the summer of 1996 and April 1997. Two years later, he resurfaced on the small screen when he appeared in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” episode “Lost and Found” (1999) and as Jeff Stahl in an episode of “Law & Order” called “Ambitious.”
Piscopo next portrayed Jack in the family film “Baby Bedlam” (2000) and guest starred in the HBO series “Arli$$” (also 2000), as Danny Ritcher. Still in 2000, he began doing voiceover work for the Nickelodeon comedy series “The 1000 Deeds of Eddie McDowd,” a gig he held until 2002. In 2001, he appeared in the contemporary version of Herman Melville's “Bartleby” (2001), which starred Crispin Glover, and returned to “Law & Order” to portray a different character, Art Cahill, in the episode “Formerly Famous.” He would return for another episode in 2004 called “Cry Wolf,” this time playing Jarret Whitestone.
In 2006, Piscopo played Louis Long, Steven Bauer's brother, in the comedy film “Dead Lenny,” which was directed and written by Serge Rodnunsky. The same year, he also had the supporting role of Angelo in John DeBellis' “The Last Request.” Recently, in 2011, Piscopo appeared as Martin Spanjers' father in the comedy feature “Spring Break '83,” starring John Goodman, Joe Pantoliano and Jamie Kennedy.
Piscopo founded his own production company in New Jersey called Avellino Productions. The company has signed a television development deal with HBO for a limited series titled “Bloomfield Avenue.” Other projects include a half-hour sitcom, “Jersey Girls,” and an independent feature film called “Joey Benefit.”
CableACE: ACE, Performance in a Comedy Special, “The Joe Piscopo Special,” 1985